Group pushes green solutions for business

BURBANK — The Burbank Green Alliance gathered 130 area businesses and organizations Wednesday at the Buena Vista Library to share eco-friendly solutions and start an industry-wide discussion on how to keep their food service lean and green.

“This is the latest part of the city’s 2008 Sustainability Action Plan. We’re trying to start a discussion with local businesses so we can reach near-zero waste in a few years,” said Kreigh Hempel, recycling coordinator for the city of Burbank and member of the Green Alliance.

The Sustainability Action Plan focuses on seven urban themes to accomplish 21 specific actions to make Burbank a model of eco-friendly efficiency. The city is seeking volunteers to head the Sustainability Task Force, which will be chosen at the end of February to direct the urban environmental effort.

At Wednesday’s gathering, Hempel described the economic merits of reducing waste at a business, such as saving on shipping and handling costs for garbage.

Alan Donovan, owner of the new Italian restaurant Ciao Cristina!, was in attendance to learn techniques for running his eco-friendly and practical business, which he said will open at the end of February.

“I approached it the same way. I spent a little extra money on low-wattage lighting, which will save me money in the long run,” Donovan said.

“I use reasonably priced organic food, and I have a machine that makes mineral water in the kitchen, so I don’t have to buy crates of San Pellegrino bottles from Italy.”

Waste solution groups mixed with business managers, including Raymond Pirello of Biotech America, to trade ideas.

Pirello touted an eco-friendly product of his that compresses food waste into gray water, which could then be refined in a city water treatment plant.

Corporations in attendance at the event, which ran from 2 to 5 p.m., included Warner Bros., Yahoo! and IKEA, along with Woodbury University and other schools. A representative from the Walt Disney Co., Marialyce Pedersen, gave a presentation on the company’s pilot compost program.

“Using our model at the recent Winter X Games in Colorado, all the food waste from this massive event got composted by the waste haulers that took all the rest of the trash, and the city of Aspen thought it was a great success,” Pedersen said.

This story inspired manager Bo Bigley of Reel Chefs Catering, who likewise wants to set an example for the studios he services by composting the leftover catering.

“I came here today to find a way to take a responsible stand without blowing our company’s budget,” Bigley said. “We’re going to try to focus more on reusable, washable food ware, which should reduce our overhead costs in the long run.”

For more information on how to reduce waste in your business, go to www.greenrestaurants.org or www.ecoburbank.org.


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