Linden Hills businesses jump on organics recycling bandwagon

While Kristin Toomber’s staff cut up steaks to fulfill a large order for an event on a Thursday afternoon in early April, a small bucket sat nearly empty in the back of Clancey’s Meats & Fish.

That small bucket —mostly containing plastic wrapping — lasts the whole day at the Linden Hills meat shop. It’s the only waste that Toomber’s business sends to a landfill or incinerator.

Any meat scraps are either used for a different purpose or put into a separate trashcan and eventually hauled away to a composting site. They might end up in a landscaping project or a road construction project.

Clancey’s is one of 15 Linden Hills businesses that have committed to recycling their organic materials. The shop has been doing it for a few years, but recently was joined by several other businesses that see organic recycling as an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to deal with waste.

“I couldn’t stand that we were throwing everything into the same place,” said Toomers, who estimates that 60 to 70 percent of Clancey’s waste is organic.

Felicity Britton, executive director of Linden Hills Power & Light, said the business node’s increased organics recycling only adds to an already green neighborhood in Minneapolis.

Nearly 1,300 Linden Hills households recycle their food waste, diverting 5 tons a week from the Hennepin County garbage incinerator to compost sites. The city began hauling the waste in 2008.

Linden Hills Power & Light worked with the neighborhood businesses to get them switched over to new waste haulers. Britton said many wanted to switch when residents did in 2008, but they had signed 3-year contracts with waste haulers who don’t recycle organics.

“They were all enthusiastic and wanted to do it, it was just sort of a slow process because of the hauling contracts,” she said.

Randy’s Sanitation of Delano and Dick’s Sanitation of Lakeville pick up the Linden Hills organic waste.

Linden Hills waste is delivered to a Hennepin County transfer facility and then taken to two different compost sites where it is broken down into dirt, said Dave Hepfl, senior sales representative for Randy’s Sanitation.

Sally Weissman and Tom Amundson say they save around $300 a month by composting organics at their Great Harvest bread shop in Linden Hills.

Amundson, concerned about both the environment and cost of sending organics to landfills, canceled his waste hauling contract several years ago, even though he had to pay the company thousands of dollars.

“The most amazing thing was how easy the employees bought into it,” Amundson said. The company now collects from 40 to 50 businesses, Hepfl said. Usually, he said, businesses will save money on their trash bill because it costs more to landfill or incinerate trash than to compost it.

“I’ve never had anybody pay more. The smaller clients, they will break even with their trash bill, but they want to do it because it’s a way of life,” he said.

Britton said trash costs $47 a ton to landfill or burn, while compost costs only $15 a ton.

“It’s a lot cheaper to get rid of organics and recycling than it is to get rid of trash,” she said.

Linden Hills businesses that compost organic waste
Zumbro Café
Bayers Do It Best Hardware
Linden Hills Florist
Christian Science Reading Room
Café 28
Extrados Spa
Coffee and Tea Ltd
Wild Rumpus Books
Tea2 Architecture
Rehkamp-Larson Architects
Linden Hills Dentistry
Linden Hills House of Music
Lake Harriet Commercial Club