Chef Container, a local refuse and recycling hauling company, started in April of 2002 after the founder and owner Sean Steele noticed the trends of recycling were not being met on a local level by the national providers.
Mr. Steele had spent the previous quarter of a century serving the local community with his company Steele Enterprises. Steele Enterprises which was known for both excellent customer service and reliability, was one of the finest sprinkling and landscape companies in Holland and the Lakeshore area. Mr. Steele had a vision and a belief that Holland and its surrounding areas deserved a local recycling & refuse company that would work with them to meet their needs to be more environmentally conscious. This was accomplished in a similar level of excellence as he had performed while building Steele Enterprises over the years.
By the spring of 2004, Mr. Steele and his partners moved on to phase two of their garbage and recycling endeavor, Westshore Recycling & Transfer Station LLC. This created a facility that could sort and process material as it was received from Chef’s commercial and residential customers there by diverting recyclable tons from local landfills. These materials included cardboard, paper, wood, plastics, glass, metal products, appliances and more.
The Westshore Recycling & Transfer Station LLC has grown to now reclaim more than 45,000 tons of material per year. In addition to the refuse diversion this division of the company also operates a D.E.Q. certified compost area where materials such yard waste, brush, trees and other green products are turned into a raw compost material which can be used in many growing applications.
Through Chef Container and Westshore Recycling & Transfer Station some exciting things have happened within Holland and the surrounding communities. One example is our onsite facility for home owners and businesses alike to easily dispose of and recycle a variety of materials. We have designed a much simpler experience than that offered by the large landfills in Michigan. A second and perhaps the most important is the introduction of Chef Container’s YELLOW BAG recycling program to the local community. This commingled approach to recycling allows residents and businesses to recycle a variety of materials in a single bag which can then be placed in their waste container vs. a separate recycling container. With this process Chef Container uses only one truck to pick up both refuse and recyclables, which in turn reduces our carbon footprint in CO2 emissions. This has been key in diverting much of the needless dumping of recyclable materials, thus reducing the true amount of waste from the Lakeshore area that ends up in our landfills.
In the spring of 2007, Chef Container improved its collection process with several new automated trucks. It also added new automated sorting capacities to the Westshore Recycling & Transfer Station.
By the spring of 2008, Chef Container’s efficient residential service and strong focus in providing easy recycling to it’s customers had gained the respect of municipalities such as City of Holland, Saugatuck City Proper and Laketown Township.
Fall of 2009 marked the achievement of Chef Container assisting several local industrial customer’s in their move toward being 98% landfill free. These steps, while rewarding for Mr. Steele and his company, are just the beginnings of some great thing to come in the next five years. Our company has a goal of reaching an eighty percent (80%) goal of diversion from landfills for both our residential and commercial customers.
During 2010, Chef Container was able to renew the contract with the City of Holland for an additional seven (7) year term for the collection of residential refuse & recycling. In the fall of same year, Chef Container also began testing a compost drop off site with the City of Holland as an alternative to their storage yard which resulting in a significant cost savings for the city.
Chef Container studies the recycling markets and needs of their customers in order to continue diversifying; Chef begins to offer paper shredding and industrial product destruction/shredding services. This offering creates a local resource for both manufacturing clients and residents to securely dispose of confidential information and dated/obsolete products from manufacturing.
It was an exciting year in 2011, with growth from the recycling segment doubling itself through new agreements and contracts to include – landfill recycling agreements, Allegan County Recycling Depot contract, to cover 8-locations, and a new charge to expand recycling services in areas with limited or no current programs.
During the fall of 2011, Chef Container beings planning its 10-year anniversary goals to include ground breaking on a 21,000 sq. foot recycling center/building expansion to be open in spring of 2012.
Our main focus during 2012 was the expansion and updating of our Westshore facility with new automated equipment to meet future demands of recycling growth in Michigan. Despite all the challenges that this envisioned, Chef Container was still able to begin relationships with Fruitland Twp. and Dalton Twp. within Muskegon County for drop-off recycling programs. Chef also entered into new agreements to advance the single stream recycling collection from 18-gallon bin programs with low participation to 96-gallon cart collection with above 60% participation within Gun Plain Charter Twp., Otsego Twp. and Plainwell City all of which are located within Allegan County. In addition to those recycling program, our team was able to secure a long term contract for a new municipal program with the Village of the City of Douglas servicing 600 homes for recycling and refuse collection weekly.
During 2013 Chef Container entered a new era with the appointment of our first outside CEO, Kim Buckly. Mr. Buckly was tasked with taking the investment in our new Westshore facility and our steady growth of contract hauling division, Chef Container, and blending them into one uniform organization working in harmony. This new leadership lead the beginning of 2012 to be filled with much exploration into the future development of both company’s. During the spring we invested more efforts into advancing the effectiveness of the Westshore Single Stream Recycling operation through the reconfiguration of our presorting line and the addition of a fiber-sorter which separates paper form other commodities like plastic . Chef container was able to continue the advancement of our municipal program through the long term extension of Laketown Twp. and Saugatuck City municipal contracts and the introduction of a new community for recycling and refuse collection Valley Twp. within Allegan Co.
How time files when when your having fun… After 12-years in our adventure has created a company that employs over 45 men and women from the local community and dispatches over 20 collection trucks daily through our local neighborhoods. Beyond the home collection, Chef also has a vast presence in industrial, commercial and construction market providing collection services. This C&I division has also begun a focus on providing Zero Landfill or Zero Waste program initiatives within local companies. During 2012, our now 1-yr into his tenure CEO took the organization through a process of rediscovery in our recycling and diversion roots to formulate a plan to become the best company at providing unique solutions for recycling in West Michigan.
Chef Container Embraces New Mission Statement 1/22/15; “Chef Container and Westshore Recycling are dedicated to creating partnerships within the community, maintaining a safe and enjoyable workplace for our employees and providing exceptional service to our customers. We strive to deliver creative recycling solutions to reduce the impact on the environment and continuously improve systems to stay ahead of the industry curve in order to create a clean and safe planet for future generations.”
While Chef Container is a home town company with its local employees and ownership, it’s business practices and outlook for the future far exceed that of many of its competitors three times its size. The primary goal of Chef Container is to exceed our community’s and customer’s goals for recycling while bringing all the advance practices possible by being a nimble and progressive service provider.