Kristi King, President of Perfect Circle Recycling.
Kristi King, President of Perfect Circle Recycling, created a business model centered around sustainability, and aims to help customers "reimagine new ways of disposing of waste." — Perfect Circle Recycling

In 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 66 million tons of food waste was generated and 60% of it was sent to landfills. Now, more than ever, businesses are looking to create a sustainable business plan that involves balancing environmental impact and profitability, while also considering the social and economic aspects of the business.

Kristi King, President of Perfect Circle Recycling (PCR), created a business model centered around sustainability, which recycles packaged food and beverage waste, including organics, plastics, cardboard, and metal. PCR charges an upfront tipping fee to dispose of waste through sustainable outlets, such as compost, anaerobic digestion, and animal feed, and captures the commodities and sells them for recycling — prioritizing sustainability in everyday processes.

“Our services help our customers reimagine new ways of disposing of waste that was originally sent to the landfill,” King said. “We also provide our customers with diversion data that they can use towards their ESG (environmental, social, and governance) goals.”

PCR was a Green/Sustainable Business Finalist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Dream Big Awards for its sustainability efforts. The company’s sustainability process involves reviewing the customer’s operation, determining their needs, providing necessary equipment, and ongoing waste collection. The recycling company uses the T-20 Turbo Separator which applies mechanical energy to break covalent bonds in various packaging and consumer items consistently. The separator provides cleaner packaging for additional uses.

[Read more: Five Small Business Owners On Practicing Sustainability]

Like other businesses, we pivoted and changed our business plan to meet the needs of our clientele while remaining profitable. This took, and continues to take, many nights and weekends to make this dream a reality.

Kristi King, President, Perfect Circle Recycling

Incorporating sustainable practices into business models

Entrepreneurs looking to incorporate sustainability into their businesses should have a thorough understanding of their business, manage their waste, embrace circularity, and form partnerships.

“An easy way of [figuring out circularity] is by getting involved in local community city/state organizations of like-minded people to assist in improving your business model,” King shared. “These community leaders are very helpful in connecting you with other groups and officials with the same goals in mind.”

When implementing a sustainable business plan, you might run into a few challenges, and overcoming them will take patience. King expressed her challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic and having to shut down the facility just after signing a new lease and ordering the separator machine.

“Like other businesses, we pivoted and changed our business plan to meet the needs of our clientele while remaining profitable,” King continued. “This took, and continues to take, many nights and weekends to make this dream a reality.”

Developing partnerships and contributing to sustainability goals

PCR reached out to grocery stores and distributors through cold calls and expanded its marketing reach through social media and its website. The business offered tours to potential and existing customers to showcase its sustainable waste diversion process and build connections.

“[These partnerships have] provided us with many connections. … We give potential and existing customers tours so they can see firsthand how we operate and where their products would be diverted to keep them out of the landfill,” King told CO—.

Not only does PCR take into consideration every partnership it develops, but it also turns to its internal team to contribute to sustainability goals both inside and outside of work. The company focuses on hiring employees who are caring and passionate about implementing sustainability so that they can carry out the same methods at home and encourage others as well.

“We teach and train them on the different commodities that we receive daily (plastics, cardboard, metals, etc.),” King said. “We want them to know and understand the importance of separating all of the various materials so we can properly send them out to be recycled. We know knowledge is power, and we strive to empower our employees to take this knowledge beyond work and into their everyday lives.”

[Read: LUX Is Catering to a More Sustainable Future]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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