|Yale Wong, founder and CEO of General Biodiesel|
This year our judges noted an important trend toward reuse, a form of recycling that is more environmentally responsible than simple composting, and decided to break it out this year as a separate category. Karmaboxx, Eco-Movers and Frogbox, for example, all rent out reusable plastic boxes for use by customers when moving, a substantial improvement over throwaway cardboard boxes. Pura Vita Sustainable Yoga makes a non-slip yoga mat by weaving together old bicycle inner tubes.
The winner in this category was General Biodiesel, a Seattle company founded in 2006 by Yale Wong that recycles cooking oil and animal fats to produce biofuel. All of General Biodiesel’s biofuel is sourced, produced and sold locally, enabling the company to operate at a low cost. According to the EPA, biodiesel based on used cooking oil produces 85 percent less life-cycle carbon dioxide per gallon than petroleum diesel, making it one of the cleanest burning, and least environmentally damaging, fuels on the market.
With 28 employees, the company’s process also creates local jobs. This year the company will recycle 600,000 gallons of used cooking oil and reduce CO2 production by an estimated 10 million pounds.
Ducky’s was selected as a runner-up for encouraging the reuse of office furniture. The retailer of used and new office furniture recently introduced a program that allows companies to trade in their existing used furniture for a credit toward other furniture, new or used. This avoids the need for companies that are moving or remodeling to hire junk removal services and keeps tons of usable furniture from ending up in city dumps. Ducky’s recycles an estimated 250,000 pounds a year worth of used office furniture.
AprèsVin got the nod as runner-up for making a business out of taking the leftover seed, skin and stems from winemaking to produce grapeseed culinary oils, flours and skin care products. The seeds are dried, pressed, then milled to produce antioxidant-rich and gluten-free varietal flours. The skins and stems that remain are returned to the wineries for use in their vineyards as fertilizer. The Prosser-based company, which was founded in 2007 by Eric Leber and Lori Ramonas, collects its waste materials from select wineries in eastern Washington.
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