Young entrepreneurs discover it pays to go green

Fledgling recycle pickup service does brisk business in Juneau

Posted: Sunday, June 17, 2007

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Lindsay Terry, 23, started out by handing out fliers downtown to shop owners.

About 15 clients were interested. In October 2006, he started using a small pickup truck to haul away their recyclables.

In many cities in the Lower 48, Terry's kind of curbside service is nothing new. In many towns, it's a municipal institution.

In Juneau, it's a novel idea.

While there are a few courier services in town, such as Wolverine Courier Service, that will pick up almost anything, Terry says LT's Recycling Service is the first to be devoted solely to recycling.

"I didn't think much of it. (My wife) came up with the idea of starting a recycle pickup service," he said. "I didn't think there was much money in recycling."

He soon learned his wife was right.

The recycling business kept him so busy he quit his job at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and took on a partner, friend Ryan Judson, 23.

With additional help, they purchased a vehicle and found a lot for lease on Shaune Drive to store recyclables. They plan to purchase a second truck and a baler later this month

"It is growing and growing," Terry said. "The interest and support from the community is phenomenal."

"We are signing on more customers every week. It is growing faster than I ever thought it would have," he said. Recently, they signed a deal with Tourism Best Management Practices, a volunteer group of roughly 60 tourism companies committed to minimizing the negative impacts of their industry.

Bob Janes, owner of Gastineau Guiding, said that recycling became a priority for the group last fall. They've been looking for a service like LT's.

"There is no avenue for commercial recycling," he said.

"We found Lindsay and decided to use him as our paid recycling contractor," he said.

He said the city had been working on making changes that will allow for businesses to pay a flat $100 rate for unlimited recycling, but the process was taking too long.

"A lot of the operators had been storing plastics and cardboard, and it was just piling up," he said. "This gets us a way to get going on it."

Terry and Judson are not the only ones who see business in commercial recycling. Waste Management also is eyeing the market.

Roughly 40 businesses regularly use the Recycling Center in Lemon Creek, said Lynn Bartlett, the senior operations manager.

She anticipates seeing more after July when the flat rate goes into effect, continuing the trend she has seen in recent years of increased number of users of the Center.

Is LT seen as a competitor?

"I think it can go either way," she said. "Our goal is to have (Juneau residents) recycling. Whether they are bringing them here themselves, our goal is to increase the commercial recycling."

Janes sees the effort as just a beginning to more recycling in Juneau.

"We think that if it works out well this year, we could place some recycling centers around town - maybe by the tram," he said.

• Brittany Retherford can be reached at brittany.retherford@juneauempire.com or 523-2276.



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