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Restaurants trying to balance recycling with cost

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This Week News wrote Area restaurants trying to balance recycling efforts with cost

Thursday, January 3, 2008

By Gary Seman Jr.

Recycling is one of the biggest issues facing green-conscious restaurateurs. And even the staunchest environmentalists find themselves throwing out bottles, cardboard and plastic simply because the alternative is much more expensive or labor intensive.

Still, some restaurateurs are finding a way to the recycling center. Elizabeth Lessner, founder of three Columbus stores — Betty’s, Surly Girl Saloon and Tip Top Kitchen — said employees contribute time and effort to keep the recyclables out of the landfill.

Lessner’s brother, Tim, a partner in Tip Top downtown, fills up trucks with recyclable material four to five times a week. Staff breaks down the material and stores it in the basement until Lessner takes it to the recycling center once a week.

“Right now, recycling companies make it non cost-effective for restaurants and bars to recycle,” Elizabeth Lessner said. “So if you’re a restaurant operator — green or not — interested in the bottom line, you’re not going to recycle.”

Part of her mission is to educate the rest of the businesses. Lessner is involved with the Downtown Sustainability Recycling Project and leads a recycling effort under the mayor’s young professionals commission.

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