Cindy Locklin and Justin Swan are forming a partnership that will put their respective companies’ skills to use converting organic waste into fertilizer and topsoil. Photo by Mike Buck
Think your company has set in motion good environmental practices because it recycles discarded paper, plastic and glass instead of clogging a landfill?
A new partnership between Walker-based Busy Bea’s Services Inc. and Organicycle of Grand Rapids has launched a new service they assert takes recycling to a new level.
The two companies this month started working in tandem to offer a janitorial service that allows customers to divert their organic waste from landfills and instead make it into fertilizer and topsoil.
The key, said Justin Swan, Organicycle’s vice president of sales and development, is educating commercial customers and manufacturers on just how wide the spectrum of organic waste actually is.
It involves at least a collective 19 materials within the office-waste stream, and includes sensitive documents that can be securely shred, food waste, newspapers and magazines, indoor plant clippings, coffee grounds, bathroom paper, paper food wrappers, cardboard packaging, wood and waxed paper products — basically, anything that can absorb water and eventually break down. This can include compostable plastics, said Swan.
“Putting it in a landfill allows the wrong kind of bacteria to take over, and it goes septic,” said Swan. “Rather than waiting years (for waste to break down), you have a one-year turnaround and you’re getting a product that is reusable.”
Here’s how the two companies work together: Organicycle’s Swan helps customers identify compostable materials within their office-waste stream. Once identified, Swan works with Busy Bea's Cindy Locklin to pinpoint internal collection points, known as “compost zones."
Busy Bea’s then takes over and helps to ensure the compostable goods are diverted to the appropriate bins at the end of the day, which are then collected weekly or more frequently by Organicycle.
Spurt Industries of Zeeland Township does the actual composting to make top soils, soil amendments and wood mulches, said Swan.
“A typical composter does a high yield of probably 50,000 tons a year,” said Swan. “We’re setting a precedent for the future.”
Locklin, president and CEO of the commercial janitorial service, said companies that are large enough to require a commercial janitorial service are likely contributing a large amount of organic waste to a landfill. It makes sense to begin incorporating the forward-thinking service Busy Bea’s and Organicycle provides because people are increasingly buying from businesses that are conscious of their footprint on the environment.
“I’m seeing more and more businesses that are looking for janitorial companies that are more interested in being environmentally responsible,” said Locklin. “I also have more customers asking, ‘What more can we do? We’re looking to take it to the next step and move it to the break room and kitchen and sort everything out.’ It’s based on a zero waste philosophy.”
Corporate recycling programs have been around long enough that Locklin believes presenting the idea of converting organic substances into reusable material shouldn’t require a hard sell.
“While (companies) need to be profitable and successful, they also want to be responsible to the environment,” said Locklin. “They aren’t opposite ends of the spectrum. I’m seeing more and more businesses that are looking for janitorial companies that are interested in being environmentally responsible. Customers are interested in lessening the impact to the environment.”