Breaking News Bar
updated: 1/13/2012 3:55 PM

Elgin businessman is plastic foam 'recycling guru'

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Ken Santowski, owner of Chicago Logistic Service in Elgin, goes through a pile of foam products Friday. His business serves as a drop-off facility, and Santowski also does pickups in Algonquin, Elgin and Lakewood.

       Ken Santowski, owner of Chicago Logistic Service in Elgin, goes through a pile of foam products Friday. His business serves as a drop-off facility, and Santowski also does pickups in Algonquin, Elgin and Lakewood.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Ken Santowski, owner of Chicago Logistic Service in Elgin, goes through a bag of packing foam and foam lunch trays, which he will take to a recycling facility in North Aurora.

       Ken Santowski, owner of Chicago Logistic Service in Elgin, goes through a bag of packing foam and foam lunch trays, which he will take to a recycling facility in North Aurora.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Ken Santowski opens a storage container where he keeps bags of foam peanuts that people dropped off for recycling.

       Ken Santowski opens a storage container where he keeps bags of foam peanuts that people dropped off for recycling.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Ken Santowski looks inside a storage container where he keeps bags of foam peanuts that people dropped off for recycling.

       Ken Santowski looks inside a storage container where he keeps bags of foam peanuts that people dropped off for recycling.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Ken Santowski looks over a pile of packing foam along with foam lunch trays from Abbott Middle School in Elgin.

       Ken Santowski looks over a pile of packing foam along with foam lunch trays from Abbott Middle School in Elgin.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 

Elgin business owner Ken Santowski estimates he spends more than $10,000 each year in gas and man hours to haul foam products to a recycling facility in North Aurora -- and most of it is not even his.

Santowski, who owns Chicago Logistic Service, a trucking company, collects the foam for free from three drop-off locations in Lakewood, where he lives and serves as a trustee. He just started doing the same for a drop-off location in Algonquin, and his business serves as a drop-off facility for foam recycling.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

"I'm trying to be environmentally friendly," Santowski said. "We do it, me and my employees, all on the job."

For the last two years, Santowski has been taking the foam materials he collects -- think packaging, cups, trays -- to Dart Container Corporation in North Aurora. That's a relatively short trip compared to the 120-mile round trip he did for years to haul it to a recycling company in Thornton, near the Indiana border.

Algonquin senior planner Katie Parkhurst said the village is fortunate that Santowski offered his free services.

"He cares enough that he wants to do it, and he's not even a resident of Algonquin," Parkhurst said. Waste Management, the village's garbage operator, has provided recycling bins at the village's public works facility, 110 Meyer Drive. Santowski is in charge of emptying the bins when they're full and take their contents to the recycling facility.

The program will be in place until Jan. 31, and might be extended if successful, she said. "Most places won't do anything with Styrofoam so, unfortunately, it ends up in landfills," Parkhurst said. "He's using his time and expense to do it."

Santowski jokes that his laziness is the reason he started recycling plastic foam 20 years ago, when he worked for United Van Lines.

"I would put it in the garbage, and every time the wind came by that was the first thing that blew away. I got sick and tired of picking it up ... so I found a (recycling) business to take it to," he said.

His company recycles 60 to 70 percent of its waste, including plastic, paper, aluminum and more, said Santowski, who is also a member of the nonprofit group Environmental Defenders of McHenry County and helps staff its monthly pickups. At home, his family of four throws out only one bag of garbage per week, he said.

"He's the recycling guru," said Diane Harty, a teacher at Abbot Middle School in Elgin, whose students and staff help recycle Styrofoam lunch trays. After the program started two years ago, the school has decreased its garbage output by 75 percent, from 16 to 4 bags per day. "We are really fortunate to have him in our team, and in our community."

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.