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Turning Trash to Treasure: Eartha Limited
<p style="text-align: center;"><a href="www.earthalimited.com"><img style="width: 458px; height: 102px;" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-456" title="Eartha Limited" src="/files/public/userfiles/1000/blog/2010/09/header.jpg" alt=""></a></p>
<p><em>Crash Blog: Crash Innovative Columbus Businesses. Write about it. Post it.</em> Do you know what your trash is worth? If you didn't know that the things you throw out can be converted into energy to power your home, fuel your car, or composted and sold; <a href="http://www.earthalimited.com/?page_id=41">Mike Minnix</a> is here to tell you. With a forward-thinking attitude about environmental consulting, he started <a href="http://www.earthalimited.com">Eartha Limited</a> only two months ago.<!--more--> Eartha's mission is simple, to change the way we think about waste. "I looked in the trash and knew certain things shouldn't be in there," he said. "I knew I could sell these things that would normally waste away in a landfill." Targeted mostly at the restaurant industry, he saw their trash as a <a href="http://www.earthalimited.com/?page_id=35">profitable enterprise</a>. With the capability to turn <a href="http://www.epa.gov/region9/organics/ad/index.html">organic waste into energy</a>, their trash can be transformed into a commodity that is bought and sold. It will never go out of style, be scarce or decrease in value.</p>
<p>Though seemingly flawless, there is one big problem; the law. Currently, it is illegal to take food waste from a restaurant. As the state-run waste management organization, The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) is inadvertently standing in the way. "We have made them move faster than they originally assumed, " he said. "Their structure doesn't allow them to change as fast as technology does." SWACO may not be fully prepared, but Minnix believes that they knew this change would come eventually. Landfills are not a long term solution to waste management. He may have the motivation, but he knows that he doesn't have all of the answers. "Our company isn't following any handbook; I have a lot of backing from people who are smarter and have more experience than me," he said. As one of those people, his partner and restaurateur <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/pub/elizabeth-lessner/2/27b/346">Liz Lessner</a> is exemplifying the value of change. She has committed her restaurants (Tip Top, Betty's, Surly Girl, Dirty Frank's) to be waste free by 2011. This not only involves the reuse of organic waste, but also the purchasing of <a href="http://www.earthalimited.com/?page_id=29">fully compostable products</a>. These products include: to-go utensils, packaging, napkins, and practically any other non-reusable items in a restaurant. Unlike biodegradable products, compostable products degrade fully without leaving traces of chemicals used in their construction.</p>
<p>Oddly, Columbus has one of the worst recycling rates in America, yet the highest drop off rate of recyclables. "People want to recycle, we just don't have the system to do it yet," Minnix said. Maybe that will be his next challenge. "In the next five years, Ohio will do a 180 on what they consider trash," he said. "We may be a small company, but we have a large voice."</p>