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Restaurant Olivia partnering with The Happy Beetle to collect hard-to-recycle items in Colorado

Restaurant Olivia partners with The Happy Beetle to collect hard-to-recycle items
Restaurant Olivia partners with The Happy Beetle to collect hard-to-recycle items 02:02

Monday is Earth Day and April is Earth Month. One Denver restaurant is taking initiatives to be more sustainable not only today but year-round. The restaurant is also partnering with a local company to collect and dispose of hard-to-recycle items.

For over a year, Restaurant Olivia has worked with The Happy Beetle. It's a Denver-based recycling service that provides door-to-door pickups of hard-to-recycle items, like styrofoam, plastics, and batteries.

Today, The Happy Beetle has placed bins in and around Restaurant Olivia. Members of the community can swing by and drop off any hard-to-recycle items they'd like to get rid of. The Happy Beetle will then pick up the waste bins, take it to their facility to be hand-sorted, and then dispose of the items properly.

"We tried to make it as easy as possible with we provide to collection bags, and then our members will just put those on our front doorstep basically," said Dave Kiefer, the founder of The Happy Beetle.

The Happy Beetle CBS

Kiefer said he started the company out of a Denver garage in 2021.

"Sometimes, we don't really know where to take care of. And we don't have the time to do it. And so that's why I started this company to solve this problem that I had and my friends seem to have. We want to do the right thing."

Kiefer said most of their customers and clients are families and local residents, but moving forward, they also hope to tap into working with those in the restaurant industry.

Meanwhile, the restaurant's message is that Earth Day is every day and they've taken several initiatives to be more sustainable.

"You can't just celebrate this once a year, that's not going to work for Mother Earth. So, every day we tried to practice as much sustainability as we possibly can," said Heather Morrison, a co-owner of Restaurant Olivia.

There's a lot of waste that comes from restaurants that can't go into a recycling bin or shouldn't be thrown away. For example, all the plastics, wraps, and styrofoam that food comes in when it's delivered to the restaurant. Restaurant Olivia makes sure to recycle all of those items.

Morrison also said the inspiration to partner with The Happy Beetle and be more sustainable came from her 15-year-old daughter, Olivia, whom the restaurant is named after.

"I think when you realize that you're leaving this to the next generation, and you really care a lot about, so knowing that her eyes are always on everything we do. it's really important for us to," said Morrison.

Restaurant Olivia CBS

Every day, Ty Leon, the executive chef and co-owner at Restaurant Olivia, is also looking for ways to reuse or use the entire part of a piece of food for other items on the menu.

For example, lemons usually get juiced and thrown away. However, the restaurant steeps the lemon shells in a simple syrup and turns it into a sorbet. The restaurant also generates a lot of vegetable scraps, which they make vegetable stock with, and then turn it into the base for their popular french onion soup.

Leon said for Earth Month, they want to educate their customers and other restaurant owners about ways to be more sustainable and reduce waste as much as possible.

"We want to reduce things that go into the landfill as much as possible, and then the things that do go into the landfill or the compost, try and use those as many times as they can be used before being put into the trash cans or the compost bin," said Leon.

Leon also mentioned that guests and customers at the restaurant can learn from the staff at The Happy Beetle, about how to recycle hard-to-recycle items.

"We want to educate people about things that go in the trash, or things that go into compost because that's a lot that we had to learn. So we try to make it easy for everybody to get out there and instead of throwing away Styrofoam, maybe giving it to The Happy Beetle and then they can recycle it for us," said Leon.

Restaurant Olivia is also hosting an event today and inviting the community to pick up trash in their neighborhoods near the restaurant.

The Happy Beetle picks items up once a month or quarterly from all across the Denver Metro area. Last year, The Happy Beetle collected about 55,000 pounds of material. They'll also be visiting local schools throughout the week to get kids excited about recycling.

The 2023 State of Recycling and Composting Report found that Colorado's recycling rate is 16%, which is about half of the national average. Plus, about 84% of waste ends up in landfills across the state.

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