Avant Garden


What: Expanded recycling program by adding mixed recycling service.

Why: To increase recycling and meet demands of staff and customers.

How: Added mixed recycling service.

Results: Diverting an estimated 1,300 pounds of additional recyclables annually with the opportunity for more growth and waste diversion.


Minnesota Waste Wise contacted Avant Garden, a local espresso bar nestled along the charming Main Street of downtown Anoka, MN, to provide waste consulting services as part of the Anoka County business recycling and waste reduction outreach contract. The result: an expanded recycling program that now includes mixed plastics, glass, aluminum and other recyclable containers that the café was previously discarding into the trash to be landfilled.

The owner, Judy Cheslock, expressed interest in working with Waste Wise right away. The business was currently recycling their coffee grounds through a local farmer, but only had cardboard recycling through a shared service with the neighboring businesses.

During the initial meeting at the café, Waste Wise reviewed with Avant Garden what items were being disposed as trash and identified that a significant portion of the waste stream could be recycled, namely the plastic syrup containers, milk jugs, aseptic soy cartons and soda cans. Waste Wise then referred Avant Garden to various service providers, and the coffee shop added a 96 gallon recycling cart collected every other week for mixed recyclables with ACE Solid Waste.

Inside the coffee shop, a recycling bin was originally placed in the front of house, but Judy found that the program was easier to manage by keeping the mixed recycling in the kitchen and have customers bus recyclables up to the counter along with their dishes. With the new program, Judy explained, “Our customers are excited that they are now able to recycle at the coffee shop.” Three months after implementation, the program is proving to be so successful that the 96-gallon cart is filling up in a couple of days. Based on the current service levels, Avant Garden will divert an estimated 1,300 pounds of additional recyclables a year, with the opportunity to increase their diversion potential by increasing the current collection capacity.

Avant Garden has expressed interest in continuing their partnership with Waste Wise to incorporate the commingled recycling program with the other businesses sharing the garbage and cardboard collection.