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Christi Turner founded Scraps to bridge gaps in existing Denver waste resources and make composting more accessible for multi-tenant buildings and small businesses.

This Bike-Powered Collective Is Picking Up Denver’s Food Waste

In less than a month, Scraps, a bicycle-powered food waste pick-up service, has prevented more than 2,000 pounds of compostable waste from entering local landfills.

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Christi Turner adjusts her helmet, clicks on two red safety lights, and eases her slow-moving tricycle out of a RiNo parking lot and onto Larimer Street. It’s just after 8 a.m., and Turner is hauling 394 pounds of lettuce ends, animal bones, and other bits of rotting organic waste that she picked up from Work & Class to a dark green Alpine Waste & Recycling dumpster behind the Alliance Center in LoDo.

After two frustrating years observing the limitations of composting in Denver, the long-time vegan quit her communications job in January to create Scraps, an up-and-coming food waste pick-up service that keeps compostable materials out of landfills.

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“I’m on this bike, carrying trash around…I feel like I’m actually making a difference. I feel like there’s less garbage in the world.” Turner says. “I wanted to be the kind of business that offers people a living model for how we can use bike-based mobility to do business and how small and local [business], even if it’s a little bit slower than how we tend to think things should be, can really make a difference.”

According to Scraps, up to 50 percent of what Denverites throw away is organic matter that could be composted. While the city of Denver does offer a composting program, they stop short of serving residential buildings with more than seven units. Additionally, small businesses and restaurants often have logistical problems that come with composting, including storage and transportation. Scraps fills in the gaps by picking up organic waste and hauling it, via bicycle, to existing commercial compost pick-up spots. Since the organization had its first run in mid-June, Scraps has averted more than 2,000 pounds of compostable waste from landfills.

Work & Class was Scraps’ first restaurant partner, and since they started using the service, the eatery has reduced its trash from 20 to 30 bags of garbage per week to two to three bags per week, with 80 percent going to compost and 10 percent going to recycling over the course of three weeks. “Compost has always been a conversation we’ve had, but there are space constraints when you have to sort the compost by putting produce in one bin and meat in another one,” says Tabatha Knop, general manager of Work & Class, the first local restaurant to work with Scraps. “Because we are so small, we can’t have a compost bin.”

On Thursday, Scraps is celebrating its early successes with a launch party. They’ll recognize their collaboration with Work & Class, which is also providing food for the event, and the Alliance Center, their first commercial partner, while also raising money for the organization and other nonprofits, including Denver Food Rescue, which works to increase access to healthy food in low-income communities, and BikeDenver, which advocates for an improved local bicycling experience. Great Divide Brewing Co. will be serving beer, while There… and Altos Tequila will set up a cocktail bar.

“There’s this, I would venture to say, fallacy in the business community that you have to do well first financially before you can do good,” Turner says. “I believe that you can do well and do good at the same time.”

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If you go: The Scraps Launch Party takes place Thursday, July 13, 6:30–9:30 p.m.; Black Black Coffee, 3459 Ringsby Ct. $15. Find more info here.

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