A single concert at a nearly 3,000 seat venue like Pepsi Amphitheater in Flagstaff might generate well over a thousand pounds of trash. Tyler Linner, a master’s student at Northern Arizona University, wants to find creative ways to recycle as much of that trash as possible. KNAU spoke with him a year ago about his start-up project to reuse the broken plastic sleds that litter the forests in the winter. Now he has a business called Praxis Waste Solutions in a small warehouse near Buffalo Park, where he’s literally sorting through garbage to see how it can be salvaged. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with him there.
Tyler Linner: So we did Pickin in the Pines, we did Oktoberfest, we did all the Pepsi Amphitheater concerts… What we do is we had the different bins, so instead of one trash bin or one trash and one recycling, you have four different bins, so they’re separated properly... We have a mini recycling center on site at every event we do. That’s the only way we can get that stuff properly sorted. We take it back to our central area and sort it out and weigh everything and we can track all the waste that comes out of every event that we do.
Melissa Sevigny: Where does all this stuff go? Food for example, how do you recycle food?
Tyler Linner: We have a couple of hobby pig farmers around town, and we’ve been taking the food to them. I believe it’s Mr. Pickles and I forget the other pig’s name. They’re really cute. We can feed the pigs on food waste; the pigs will eat anything. The recyclables we can sell, bottles and cans. The water we pour out of water bottles, we use that to wash the concrete after we’re done. It’s all reused.
Melissa Sevigny: Looking at these numbers, you were able at these events to divert 70 percent of the waste from going into the landfill, it was recycled in some way instead?
Tyler Linner: Yeah, that’s correct.
Melissa Sevigny: So typically it’s only like 10 percent.
Tyler Linner: Yeah, the city residential recycling—again, there are some systematic issues, it’s not their fault—but they can only capture about 15 percent of the waste in Flagstaff. About 30 percent of that is accidently someone put something in that’s not recyclable, or something goes in the wrong bin or whatever it is, so that 15 percent goes down to about 10 percent.
Melissa Sevigny: Tell me why this issue, improving our recycling, is so important to you?
Tyler Linner: It’s a big climate issue. All the stuff you’re recycling had to be produced. A lot of that is pulled out of the ground. So the more we recycle, the more companies use recycled material, the less we have to mine, the less we have to drill oil, and the less we have to do all this stuff. It’s this whole thing. Honestly, at the end of the day, sometimes I find cool stuff, like the pants I’m wearing today I found in the trash. It’s fun.
Melissa Sevigny: And I can see, you are still accepting broken sleds from the public as well?
Tyler Linner: Yeah. We’ve actually been talking with the city and working with them, working with businesses to promote reusable sleds, sleds that don’t break… Definitely buy the reusable sleds, we don’t want to deal with them. We didn’t really want to have this business but since no one else is doing it, we figure it’s important for us to go and make a change. It’s something we’re passionate about but we don’t want to have to continue very long. We want to solve it. It’s Waste Solutions, not Waste Perpetuations.
Melissa Sevigny: Tyler Linner, thanks so much for speaking with me today.
Tyler Linner: Thanks for visiting.
Praxis Waste Solutions received a $8,000 grant from the City of Flagstaff for the 2019 Innovate Waste Challenge. It’s located in the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET) business accelerator near Buffalo Park.