Recycling of Cardboard & Cooking Oil
When we started recycling cardboard about 25 years ago, we got paid because not many were doing it and the demand for the used cardboard was higher. For the last decade or so, we have paid the waste company to haul the cardboard away!—but it does still get recycled. The reason we must pay is everybody now recycles cardboard so the market price for used cardboard has declined. By doing this, we are reducing the amount of landfill space needed and of course are using less trees and energy.
We have been recycling our cooking oil for over 15 years. After we cook our cheese curds(!), French fries, onion rings, chicken and so forth, the oil goes back to the manufacturer using special equipment that filters it and otherwise cleans it for many other uses – animal feed, cosmetics, and soap – and just in the past few years recycled cooking oil has been used to burn in diesel trucks, busses and cars. The same company that delivers our bulk soybean cooking oil pumps the used oil into a separate compartment in the truck and then recycles it. We recycle about 25,000 pounds of cooking oil each year.
Recycling of Wastewater to Irrigate Our Fields, Driving Range & Pumpkins
One of the coolest things we started doing over 25 years ago is recycling our wastewater. All the wastewater from both restaurants and the ice cream/cheese production room goes through a four-stage process to settle out the solids and to organically break down the ‘gray water’. We operate an advanced above ground pond called a ‘wetlands filtration system’ that aerates and stores the wastewater until we can use it to irrigate our fields – this recycling/irrigation system keeps our driving range green and our pumpkins orange! We recycle 3,000,000+ gallons of water each year at Young’s!
We use a lot of ‘natural fertilizer’ – the by-product of having cows and goats! This reduces the amount of fertilizer we purchase and apply to our crops and gives us a way to recycle our waste on the farm.
NEST® Energy Reduction
We started using smart, wireless NEST® thermostats a couple years ago and so far, it looks like we are using about 10-12% less electricity to heat and cool our restaurant buildings. These thermostats make it easier to set up and monitor the temperatures in the buildings. It also makes it easy to set up to really reduce energy needed during the hours we are closed. The NEST® thermostats ‘learn’ the building and the type of heating and cooling equipment and ‘knows’ when to turn on to get the temperature to where we want it to be when we open.
When we start with 100 pounds of milk to make cheese, we get about 13 pounds of cheese. The other 87 pounds is mostly water and whey (whey is a protein in milk that is not cheese). This watery whey is collected and spread on our crops – so the waste product of making cheese is spread back on the field to grow better hay that we bale and feed our cows to make more milk so we can make more cheese! Take a look at the video below to see the whey production.