River Country Cooperative: Success Story

Source: Minnesota Waste Wise Foundation

SuperAmerica in New Prague (River Country Cooperative) was first connected to Minnesota Waste Wise after realizing that recycling receptacles were lacking at many gas stations in the area; after successfully implementing at one of their larger stores, Olaf Johnson, Director of C-Stores, decided that it would be possible to start a similar waste reduction program at their Scott County site. The company took a big step in their sustainability goals by adding single-stream recycling to the gas pumps, office, and behind the counter inside the store. While cardboard recycling had previously been in place, after Minnesota Waste Wise conducted a site visit and provided recommendations to reduce their waste stream, Olaf did not waste any time in applying for a Scott County Business Recycling grant to receive recycling bins free of charge to kick start the new waste reduction program and increase waste diversion from the landfill. “Since now it is said that one in five meals are eaten in cars, we see it as a responsibility to provide recycling for all the plastic bottles, cans, and paper that people go through and are looking to dispose of when they stop here,” said Olaf.

Olaf and store manager, Anna, were enthusiastic about the new recycling program, and knew that their staff would be motivated to do the right thing as well. After working with their waste hauler to add single-stream collection, the results were immediate: “We’ve easily doubled our recycling output”, Anna said. “Our staff has done a great job and even sorts through the trash when they see recyclable materials mixed in. Contamination has been kept to a minimum, and it’s great not having to empty the garbage’s as often.” In addition to cardboard, they are now diverting plastic and glass bottles, cans, and paper from the landfill and couldn’t be more excited about their positive results.

An estimated 27,812 pounds of recyclables are being given a second life through recycling at SuperAmerica in New Prague and as a result of decreasing their trash, they are saving approximately $1,820 per year. “The Scott County Business Recycling grant made our waste reduction program possible,” Olaf said. “The cost of adding recycling bins was an inhibiting factor before, but now we are not only saving money, but we are doing the right thing for the environment.” Proud to set an example for the other businesses in the community, Olaf and Anna are very pleased with their efforts and have noticed that their customers are starting to pay attention and sort their recyclables as well. “People used to ask us if we recycled, or commented on the lack of recycling at our store,” added Anna. “Now, there is a certain community awareness and we are excited to lead the community in being the first gas station to participate. You see recycling almost everywhere now, so we are driven by the fact that we are doing the best we can for our community and our waste is ending up in the right place.” River Country Cooperative strives to be good stewards in the communities that they do business in, and the momentum won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Anna and the rest of the staff look forward to even greater diversion in the summer months when more people are on-the-go.