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~DEP welcomes the first restaurant and bar to qualify for the Recycling Recognition Program~


Richard Hatch and Suanne Kitchar, owners of Blue Heaven; Jon Iglehart, director of DEP's South District; Edward O. Russell, Jr., DEP environmental consultant; Green Parrot owner John Vagnoni and Green Parrot manager Jim Fossum.

KEY WEST The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recognized The Green Parrot bar and Blue Heaven restaurant today for their superior recycling efforts. In 2013, these Florida-based businesses each achieved a recycling rate of 59 percent. DEP's South District Director Jon Iglehart joined the business owners and local officials to honor the companies at a press conference today at Old City Hall in Key West. 

“Blue Heaven and The Green Parrot are great examples of how businesses can make a positive impact on Florida’s environment,” said Iglehart. “Businesses can benefit financially from investing in recycling and that investment benefits Florida environmentally by keeping recyclable materials out of landfills.”  

The Green Parrot recycles a great deal of aluminum cans and bottles. Bar management decided a few years ago to offer mostly draught beer options in glassware rather than plastic to reduce waste. The Green Parrot also chose aluminum cans over bottles where possible. Aluminum is often times easier to recycle than glass due to weight and reuse options. Additionally, the bar has recycle bins behind the bar, making it easy for bartenders to recycle, and signage near recycle bins for customer use.

The Green Parrot Co-owner John Vagnoni said, "We would like to thank the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the city of Key West for shining a light on our recycling efforts. It makes all our efforts even more worthwhile to know we were on someone's radar. Recognizing that the responsibility as a business to recycle is no different than the responsibility as a citizen, we made a business decision to do our share to keep plastic, aluminum and cardboard out of landfills and allow them to be put back into the manufacturing supply chain."

Blue Heaven provides recycle bins for waitstaff to deposit bottles and cans in once tables have been cleared. All cardboard from food deliveries is flattened and recycled appropriately. Kitchen staff also make a point to recycle any plastic containers they no longer need. It is challenging for restaurants to achieve high recycling rates, as disposal of food scraps tends to outweigh other more traditionally recyclable materials. Blue Heaven reserves all meat and fish from finished meals and provides it to their resident cats.

"We are very happy to be recognized today but believe there is always room for improvement. Recycling is good for the planet and a smart business move," said Blue Heaven Co-owner Richard Hatch. 

The department recently released the 2013 municipal solid waste annual report, which reported Florida’s statewide recycling rate is 49 percent. In 2008, the Florida Legislature established a new statewide recycling goal of 75 percent to be achieved by 2020.

The two Key West businesses are located in Monroe County, which ranks ninth in the state for total recycling in 2013, at 56 percent. With recycling rates 14 percent higher than the average commercial recycling rate for the state, the Green Parrot and Blue Heaven are excellent examples for other Florida businesses. 

“Increasing recycling is a top priority for the city of Key West, but we can’t reach our goals without both residential and commercial sector involvement,” said Will Thompson, Key West solid waste coordinator. “Businesses generate 61 percent of our overall waste stream, so it is critical that they be involved in recycling. The example set by both the Green Parrot and Blue Heaven shows that not only is commercial recycling in high-volume environments possible, but it’s also profitable by greatly reducing trash disposal costs.”  

Commercial municipal solid waste accounts for approximately 55 percent of the total municipal solid waste stream in Florida. In order for Florida to reach its 75-percent goal, the department is urging all sectors, especially the commercial sector, to actively increase its recycling efforts. According to the 2013 data, less than half of commercial waste is being recycled. It is crucial that businesses, schools and other commercial recyclers increase their recycling efforts. Recycling provides a direct cost savings to most businesses because the more that is recycled, the less waste that is generated and the lower the waste management operating costs. Reuse of materials can also represent a cost savings.

The department has an easy tool for companies to track their recycling efforts - the Florida DEP Business Recycling Tracking Tool. Through the website, which includes free registration, companies can track different types of recycling efforts and produce reports on how those efforts are helping to shrink their carbon footprint. The tracking will help the department to recognize companies that are doing more to go green. For more information about the Recycling Recognition Program click HERE.