Owner and Operator: Bridget and Dan Tietema
Organicycle began back in 2011 when special education teacher, Bridget Tietema, asked her husband, Dan, this question: "When we throw away food, where does it end up?"
Although Dan had worked in the water bottling and medical waste industry for a number of years, he didn't know. And so, together, they researched the topic, with no idea that the answer would lead them to start a new business and change the way organic waste is recycled in West Michigan.
Dan and Bridget learned that most organic waste goes to landfills, where it releases copious amounts of greenhouse gases. What's more, nutrients contained in organic waste weren't being put back into the soil, which, year after year, loses more of these precious vitamins and minerals, making food less nutritious and creating the need for more chemical fertilizers. What if, Bridget and Dan wondered, they could create a way for organic waste to be diverted from landfills and instead used to enrich the soil through compost? "A Simple Step for a Sustainable Future!" was their tagline, after many years of creating awareness in the West Michigan community, Organicycle has become the leader in the collection of curbside composting.
Bridget serves as 100 percent owner of Organicycle and Dan manages the operation. Together, they have formed one of the most recognizable companies in organic waste recycling throughout our community and beyond. By educating residents and businesses about where their waste is going, they have been able to divert millions of pounds of organic waste from area landfills and instead use it to create rich, nutritious soil for local farms.
Dan and Bridget live in the Grand Rapids area with their three children, all of whom have helped build and run the business.
Master Composter: Greg Mankowski
Organicycle is excited to welcome our first master composter, Greg Mankowski, who will manage compost operations at our new dedicated facility and ensure that our end product is the best it can be.
Greg has been working in the composting industry for over three years. He graduated from Aquinas with a degree in Sustainable Business. Greg has experience working in backyard to industrial-scale compost sites. In 2020, he was selected to be a participant in the U.S. Composting Council’s Research and Education Professional Mentorship program. Greg earned his Compost Operations Manager certification in early 2021. In his free time, Greg is passionate about skateboarding and throwing a round of disc golf.
Brandon first met Dan through the Big Brother program back in1997 and have been part of each other's lives ever since. After 9/11, Brandon enlisted in the U.S. Army and served our country in Iraq for eight years. After his service, Brandon reconnected with Dan to help start up Organicycle where he took on many roles in logistics, including route driver. Dan says Brandon's persistence and help during those early years is the reason Organicycle is still around today.
Brandon took a few years off to enjoy being a new father to a beautiful daughter Layla and returned back to the company because of his belief in Organicycle's mission and the importance of solving the landfill problems that exist today.
Dan and Bridget's daughter, Anna, is our director of sustainability and communications at Organicycle. Anna is a senior at Grand Valley State University, studying communications. In her role at Organicycle, Anna is the liason between our different departments and partners, helping everyone create connections and stay up-to-date. Anna would love to move somewhere warm someday, but not without her beloved dog, Bozeman.
Bridget's brother, Mike Burns has been Dan's assistant from the very beginning. Mike is responsible for setting up new accounts, cart management and also assisting Greg at the composting facility. His attention to detail is paramount and his dedication to his sister's company has helped make Organicycle West Michigan's leader in organic waste recycling. Mike is also one of the most loyal and nicest individuals you will ever meet and he will go beyond the call of duty to make customers happy.
Dan's brother, Joe Tietema, started working with Dan previously in logistics for another of his business ventures, Omni Medical Waste, and has been helping with the logistics of Organicycle since the beginning. He now serves as the vice president of logistics for Organicycle. Whether coordinating the routes, managing cart tips, or caring for the trucks, Joe has been instrumental in providing great customer service to all. Joe is also a wonderful nature photograher and often shares his wildlife photographs with us on our social media pages.
What Is Industrial Composting?
If compost is something you only think of as a backyard activity, think again! Industrial composting is a large-scale composting process that can handle materials that can't be put into a normal compost pile - meat, fish, oils, processed food, compostable plastic and more. Watch this video to learn how it works!