Barbecue Time

When the lazy days of summer are upon us it’s time for patios, cold drinks and the requisite barbecue delicacies fresh off the grill. The social conviviality generated by an outdoor food fest has been adopted by many organizations as a way to foster goodwill and visibly communicate corporate recycling trends. Refreshments combined with entertainment always find a receptive audience and so some property management companies have made the tenant appreciation barbecue a rite of summer, where everyone can chow down and enjoy a little break from the daily lunch ritual of a soup and sandwich consumed precariously over the computer keyboard.

Our spotlight for this edition is on two amazing companies: Menkes Property Management Services and Bentall LLP. Both these organizations have taken home multiple Platinum awards for excellence at the Ontario Waste Minimization Awards and both are “hosts with the most” when it comes to their annual BBQs.

If you get panicky at the thought of more than a dozen people eating on your back deck, consider these numbers:

In July, 5000 Yonge Street (Menkes Trans America Tower) saw 1,400 people flow out on to the property that borders the Toronto Centre for the Arts for the annual barbecue festivities complete with ice cream trucks and a steel pan musician lending a Caribbean air to the sunny mid-day gathering.

The waste generated was primarily soiled plastic wrap, cans and plastic bottles, food waste, compostable plates and cutlery, napkins and cardboard. Total materials generated were 265.3 kg. Total materials diverted/recycled were 260.2 kg. Only the soiled plastic wrap (5.1 kg) was sent to landfill, so total diversion was a whopping 98 per cent!

Even greater crowds turned out at the sprawling 25 acre RBC Campus (Bentall LLP) at 6880 Financial Drive in Mississauga for the 2011 Canada Day Green Country Jamboree.

3,300 people (of a total 6,000 employee roster) turned out to enjoy a foot-stomping good time and in the process were able to divert food waste, flatware, cutlery, napkins, cardboard, salad containers, pop cans, fuel cans and plastic wrap. Total waste generated was 1,253.5 kg. Total materials recycled were 1,252 kg. The only waste sent to landfill was a small 1.5 kg bag of soiled plastic wrap and latex gloves for sanitary food handling. Total diversion: 99 per cent.

“Having the cooperation of an environmentally savvy caterer is essential,” says Cindy Woyslaw, General Manager at Menkes, 5000 Yonge. “They get everything organized according to your specifications to ensure a well-coordinated, waste free event.”

And then it’s up to the green teams under the supervision of a seasoned waste services provider to make sure everything goes in the right bin and that there’s no cross contamination of food with pop cans, water bottles and other sundry items.

With each barbeque success, pre-planning, strategic bin placement and menu selection proves important and sorting is inevitable post event. Whether caterers are involved or all the cooking/cleanup is performed by staff volunteers, it’s a total team effort to deliver a waste free event.

In the case of Menkes and Bentall they both rely heavily on Wasteco, which has been instrumental in helping them develop and execute the game plan for waste free events and other reduction/recycling strategies in their respective properties.

Wasteco’s point man for these activities is Steve House, a veteran in the waste industry who personally oversees the on-site activities and has been seen “dumpster diving” to salvage pop cans and other misplaced recyclables from organics bin. It’s a bit of mucky job but then the point is clearly get the message: recycling is a serious business even when you are at play.

Diane Blackburn is Events Manager for the Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO) in Toronto, Ontario.
Contact Diane at

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