Becoming one of the first restaurants in Boulder, Colorado, to divert more than 95 percent of potential waste into compost or recyclables is a point of pride for restaurateurs Chris and Jacquelyn Meyer. After they bought The Buff in 1995, the college town restaurant and bar quickly became a Boulder institution known citywide for good food, great Bloody Mary’s and exceptional customer service.
To elevate its sustainable business practices, the Meyers are using 100 percent post-consumer recycled polyester napkins from Riegel Linen. One napkin eliminates three plastic bottles from ending up in landfills.
“Not only do we want to serve good food, but we don’t want to leave anything behind,” said Jacquelyn Meyer. “As a restaurant owner, we are required by Boulder’s Universal Zero Waste Ordinance to recycle and compost trash. I have 45 employees trained on where everything goes – in the trash, a compost bag or into recycle where something can be made from it. The RieNu napkins from Riegel are a daily reminder to our staff of the importance and beauty of recycling.”
Before switching, The Buff had been using cotton napkins. With potentially 1,600 people visiting the restaurant daily, it was a lot of work washing and folding the natural fiber product, and it was falling apart quickly from frequent laundering.
To convert plastic water bottles into table linens, bales of plastic bottles are collected, sorted and inspected to eliminate foreign materials. PET bottles are sterilized, dried, and crushed into small chips. The plastic chips are melted down and then extruded into a new fiber.
The finished fiber is spun, woven, dyed, and sewn into napkins and tablecloths in one of six colors: Seascape (blue), Bamboo (tan), Stone (gray), Moss (green), Bark (brown), and Ebony (black). A small recycling seal is embossed into every napkin.