Two to three times a week, John Howell and his staff load pickup trucks with glass and cardboard and make the drive to one of Norman’s three recycling drop-off centers.
In 2018, Howell, co-owner of GL Dining group and owner of popular Norman eateries Blu, Blackbird, the Library and the Brewhouse, began a pilot program at Blu to address the restaurant’s creation of waste. The restaurant attempted to source its menu from 100-percent organic, all-natural products and replaced its plastic-based straws and to-go carriers with food-based, biodegradable products.
“We were doing anything you can think (of) to reduce our waste,” Howell said. “We decided we’re going to eat as much of this cost upfront and not pass that around to the customers.”
The program was an experiment to see if Norman’s residents responded to the all-natural products, and if the business could survive by purchasing the more expensive, natural and waste-reducing products without increasing the cost of meals to the consumer.
The answer was no.
“People thanked us, but it didn’t drive business,” Howell said.
Read more about the recycling issue with Norman businesses and apartments here.