AIKEN, S.C.—For restaurateurs Chris and Jacquelyn Meyer, becoming one of the first businesses in Boulder, Colo., to divert more than 95 percent of potential waste into compost or recyclables is something they are extremely proud of. After the couple bought The Buff in 1995, the college town restaurant and bar quickly became a Boulder institution known citywide for good food, great Bloody Mary’s and exceptional customer service. What patrons may not know about The Buff is just how strong the owners’ commitment is to the environment. To elevate its sustainable business practices even more, the Meyers are using 100 percent post-consumer recycled polyester napkins from Riegel Linen. One RieNu by Riegel napkin eliminates thee plastic bottles from ending up in landfills.
“Everyone on this planet is important,” said Jacquelyn Meyer. “We need a clean environment, we need to reduce waste and pollution, and we need to start right here at The Buff. Not only do we want to serve good food, but we don’t want to leave anything behind. As a restaurant owner, we are required by Boulder’s Universal Zero Waste Ordinance to recycle and compost trash. I have 45 employees trained on where everything goes—in the trash, a compost bag or into recycle where something can be made from it. The RieNu napkins from Riegel are a daily reminder to our staff of the importance and beauty of recycling. They don’t just ‘get it,’ they’re getting excited about it. We are very grateful to Riegel Linens to be able to add recyclable table linens to our green initiative.”
Before switching to RieNu by Riegel, Meyer said The Buff had been using cotton napkins. With potentially 1,600 people visiting the restaurant daily, it was a lot of work washing and folding the natural fiber product, and it was falling apart quickly from frequent laundering.
“I began searching the Internet for an alternative napkin,” Meyer said. “When I came across RieNu by Riegel, I couldn’t believe it. I ordered the napkins in black, and as soon as they came in, I couldn’t stop talking about them. No one can believe that the napkins used to be water bottles. They have a cotton-like softness, and the quality is amazing. They even hold up well in the wash.”
The RieNu Process
Here’s how plastic water bottles become RieNu table linens: Bales of plastic bottles are collected, sorted and inspected to eliminate foreign materials. PET bottles are sterilized, dried, and crushed into small chips. The plastic chips are melted down and then extruded into a new fiber. The finished fiber is spun, woven, dyed, and sewn into napkins and tablecloths in one of six colors: Seascape (blue), Bamboo (tan), Stone (gray), Moss (green), Bark (brown), and Ebony (black). A small recycling seal is embossed into every napkin.
“The Buff is more than doing its part to preserve the planet,” said Riegel Vice President Chris Gowdy. “Not only does it have some of the best food and drinks in town, but Jacquie and her team are so conscious of everything that is brought into the restaurant (including dissolvable drinking straws made of corn and compostable hand towels in the bathrooms) and, more importantly, how everything leaves. We are delighted that RieNu by Riegel is having such a positive impact on this restaurant’s commitment to operating with zero waste.”