Zero Waste - It's In The Bag

The reusable bag company ChicoBag  is on a mission to help humanity reduce waste by eliminating the unnecessary use of single-use paper and plastic bags. ChicoBag has reduced an estimated 779 million single use plastic bags from ending up in landfills.  Not only do they offer a product focused on

reducing waste, but their company employees are dedicated to waste

reduction in the workplace.  

ChicoBag's facility in Chico, California has sent less than 150 pounds of

trash to the landfill so far this year, resulting in a 93.5% diversion rate.  

Individual ChicoBag employees produce an average of 1.44 pounds

of waste each month.  This is highly impressive considering their

facility consists of offices and a large warehouse.  


In order to reach their current level of waste diversion, ChicoBag had

to address several challenges.  Within their offices, the largest portion

of the waste generated used to be food and beverages containers.  

Andy Keller, owner of ChicoBag, reduced this material by providing

reusable food and beverage containers to each of his employees.

Now, the most prevalent material in their waste stream is the backing

from postal stickers.  

All employees hired at ChicoBag are asked to follow the companies

norms, which include:


  • We strive for zero waste.

  • We refuse the big 4 (single-use plastic bags, single-use water bottles, single-use cups and polystyrene take-out)

ChicoBag's exemplary waste reduction and recycling practices can be imitated by any business.  By prioritizing the reduction of materials sent to the landfill into their business values and giving their employees the tools to reduce their waste, ChicoBag is able to meet environmental goals and save money in waste hauling fees as well. ChicoBag understands the multiple benefits associated with zero waste.  

Something's Brewing - Zero Waste at Sierra Nevada 

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has a passion for quality.  Whether it is in perfecting their product, engaging with the local community, or implementing sustainable practices to help the environment, Sierra Nevada is committed to doing things right.  


In 2012 Sierra Nevada recycled, reused, or composted 99.8% of all material generated at their facility.  While a majority of the materials diverted were spent grain and yeast, when these materials are removed from the equation,

Sierra Nevada still boasts a respectable 94.6% diversion rate. 

How do they do it?


Sierra Nevada sends nearly 50 thousand tons of spent grain and yeast

to local ranchers as cattle feed. The loop closes as Sierra Nevada’s own

small herd of cattle (fed Sierra Nevada grain and yeast of course) are 

then served at the brewery's restaurant.  The leftover food scraps from

the restaurant are mixed with other organics from the facility and sent

through the on site HotRot © in-vessel composting system.  This

state-of-the art technology can create a finished compost in as little as

10 days.  The finished compostis applied to Sierra Nevada's organic hop

and barley fields as well as their restaurants garden.


Sierra Nevada recycled 2,020 tons of material in 2012 (excluding spent brewers grain and yeast). Materials included: cardboard, glass, paper, scrap metal, wood, shrink wrap, and plastic strapping. Extensive employee training, recycling bin infrastructure, easy to understand signage, and frequent waste characterizations (audits) has helped Sierra Nevada in their recycling efforts.

Reduce and Reuse

All Sierra Nevada employees are encouraged to use the reusable shopping bags and mugs - new employees are given a Klean Kanteen and a ChicoBag upon hiring. Some other reuse initiatives include:

  • Reusing incoming packaging materials (bubble wrap, packing peanuts, etc.)

  • Rebuilding and reusing broken pallets

  • Providing clothing vendors with used boxes to ship clothing to the Gift Shop

  • Donating large grain sacks to local landscaping companies and recycling centers

  •  Donating burlap sacks to local beekeepers

  • Converting single‐sided paper and unusable beer labels into notepads 


Sierra Nevada employs three full time staff to focus on company sustainability efforts.  Is this something your company can afford?  We think so.  Check out the following waste reduction savings and recycling revenue for Sierra Nevada in 2012:

Savings from avoided disposal costs: $5.4 million

Recycling material revenue: $943,000

Zero Waste monetary incentive: $6.34 million 

Most companies can expect to see recycling and sustainability positions pay for themselves multiple times each year.  Responsible waste and recycling practices are not only good for the environment, they make economic sense.  




Each bag monster is made to represent the number of plastic bags used by an average American in one year.  Chained together, these 102 billion bags would circle around the earth 776 times.​

The HotRot© in-vessel composting system was purchased from HotRot Organic Solutions based in New Zealand.  There are 23 systems operating in 10 different countries worldwide. 

One of the 120 employees at the brewery's restaurant and pub.  Over 1,000 tons of food is composted from the restaurant annually.