Garbage in, donations out: Turning waste into charitable dollars

TRAVERSE CITY – Andy Gale wants your trash. And he wants to turn it into cash for local charities.

Bay Area Recycling for Charities (baRc) is a new grassroots recycling program that recycles just about everything, even grass.

Gale is the president/founder of baRc, offering recycling services to area businesses and residential customers to help them better maximize the impact of their recycling and reduce the amount of actual garbage going to the landfill – converting recyclables into revenues, both for itself and local charities.

Some of baRc's first clients are Oryana Natural Foods Market, The Minervini Group (The Village at Grand Traverse Commons), and Odom Reusable Building Materials in Grawn. Gale also supplied the recycling bins at the various Film Festival venues and provided paper, plastic and compost bins at the festival parties.

Gale's hope is to help small and mid-size businesses assess what they have in their waste stream, what they are currently recycling and what they aren't – and how he can help them change that.

The ability to expand their plastics recycling at Oryana, in particular the addition of #5 plastics (i.e. yogurt containers), was especially important to its customers. Most other recycling services have limited acceptance policies on plastic, whereas the baRC accepts all seven recyclable plastics as well as the standard paper, glass and metal. It also accepts electronic waste, organic materials (food and yard waste) and some miscellaneous items (motor oil, tires and textiles).

Gale says nearly 100 percent of what we throw away is recyclable.

"I want people to realize that what they have is a resource," he said, adding that the typical consumer throws away approximately $40-$50 annually in recyclable garbage.

Most obstacles to recycling come down to the convenience factor, Gale said. So it's his plan to make recycling as easy as it can be with pick-up service and drop-off sites.

"The more of the inconvenience we take away, the less that goes into the trash," said Gale.

His first facility, which has a baler for smashing recyclables into a compact pack, is in Maple City. His goal is to have a recycling and composting facility in each county. He will then sell the materials to companies that buy recyclables for reuse, such as Traverse Bay Recycling outside Grawn. One-third of the revenue from the sale of recycled materials will then be donated to a charity.

Businesses may designate a specific charity to be the recipient of the revenues resulting from their recycling partnership with baRc. Gale also plans to partner with local charities and tie in his recycling business with their fundraising efforts.

Bay Area Recycling for Charities services Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie, Kalkaska and Antrim counties. Contact baRc at or 231.884.3417. BN