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Case study

Tacofino & Recycling Alternative

Organizations large and small are increasingly taking a close look at where they source their materials and with whom they purchase their services (their supply chain) in order to reduce emissions and minimize the overall environmental impact of their products and services. This is the story of a unique collaboration between Climate Smart businesses Recycling Alternative and Tacofino to do just that.

Vancouver recycling experts Recycling Alternative are helping the Tacofino family of food trucks and commissary restaurant address the company’s carbon emissions from waste and truck fuel, two of their most significant sources, at the same time.

Tacofino launched the first of its Vancouver food carts in 2011 and has been collaborating with Vancouver recycling experts Recycling Alternative since 2013. The partnership began with Recycling Alternative’s core business service – managing Tacofino’s waste stream – and looking to recover the highest-value raw materials from this waste stream. This encompasses returnables, such as aluminum cans and glass bottles, as well as paper, cardboard and – key for a restaurant – organic waste.

In addition to its recycling services, Recycling Alternative is a co-founder of the Vancouver Biodiesel Cooperative and has managed the operations and administration associated with running the pump and fuel supply since its debut. The carbon emissions associated with the recycled biodiesel are 90% less than those associated with ordinary diesel. Co-op members pay a small premium over regular diesel – presently about 13% – but this still pales in comparison to the cost of conventional gasoline.

For a company like Tacofino – which runs diesel-fuelled food trucks, and produces a fair volume of waste vegetable oil (WVO) both at their commissary restaurant and their food trucks – Recycling Alternative and the Biodiesel Co-op represent a unique opportunity.

Recycling Alternative picks up Tacofino’s WVO along with the rest of their recycling, and this WVO is then converted into credits that Tacofino can ‘recycle’ into discounted biodiesel to fuel their Vancouver truck, White Lightning. It’s the business sustainability version of ‘what goes around comes around’.

Tacofino’s and Recycling Alternative’s local green supply chain arrangement extends far beyond the partnership with each other. Both work with other Climate Smart food businesses such as meat distributors Trimpac and urban grower Sole Food Farms, as well as with local green economy catalyst, Vancity Credit Union.

Tacofino works hand-in-hand with Foodee, a ‘corporate meal concierge’, to deliver ‘meals on wheels’ from a wide variety of Vancouver restaurants to businesses throughout the region. The meals are delivered in compostable containers and the ‘wheels’ come via the most sustainable method that is logistically feasible, often the Climate Smart business Shift Delivery Co-op – Vancouver’s groundbreaking cargo-tricycle delivery service.

It’s building these types of partnerships that resonates with Recycling Alternative founder Louise Schwarz as the most sustainable overall business plan. “When you’re in the context of your own local economy […] it’s strategically very important to make strong and promising partnerships with the other groups working in your local economy.”

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