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Spectators fill the brand new Kettlehouse Amphitheater for the Lyle Lovett concert, the venue's first show, on Thursday, July 13.

Rebekah Welch, Missoulian

Logjam Presents is teaming up with the City of Missoula and Missoula Compost Collection to make the entertainment company's three music venues significantly greener.

On Wednesday, Logjam announced the partnership with the city's Zero by Fifty program, which aims to reduce waste by 90 percent by 2050, and Missoula Compost Collection, a local waste management company.

Logjam will begin rolling out composting and recycling at the Wilma Theatre, Top Hat Lounge and KettleHouse Amphitheater at the beginning of December and likely will have it going full-capacity by the end of January, according to Logjam CEO Nick Checota.

"We're trying to get compostable material, not just recyclable," he said.

The first step includes a switch to 100 percent compostable alternatives to plastic cups, straws and water bottles at the three venues.

The switch involved some logistical complexities. No local distributors sell water in compostable bottles with compostable caps, so Logjam is ordering them directly from a company in Iowa. All the compostable materials need to meet the requirements of the city-owned compost operation, Garden City Compost. They need to arrange a pick-up schedule for Missoula Compost to deliver the material to Garden City Compost.

Checota said it will significantly reduce the company's footprint. He estimates that they will sell 625,000 individual beverages in 2018 at the Top Hat (550 capacity), Wilma (1,500) and amphitheater (4,000), which are among the busiest and largest venues in town. 

"That's a lot of material taken out of the landfill and put into compost," Checota said.

They plan to have "green ambassadors" at the venues to make sure customers are placing things in the correct bins. "Fortunately for us, Missoula is probably going to be more inclined to adopt this kind of program than other communities," he said.

The Top Hat, which has a dedicated restaurant and kitchen, is part of the program as well. They're working with Missoula Compost to separate and pick up compostable food waste and deliver it to Garden City, which will require correct sorting (no meat, for instance) and a pick-up schedule to ensure that food waste doesn't sit out too long. The restaurant already uses cloth napkins and glassware instead of disposable alternatives.

They'll also separate cans and carry-out containers at the venues, and arrange for Missoula Compost to deliver them to Pacific Steel Recycling and Republic Services. The company uses the containers to sell food at the amphitheater.

They're looking at adopting a reusable cup program for the Wilma and the KettleHouse Amphitheater. Customers will be able to buy a Logjam Klean Kanteen 16-ounce cup for beer, mixed drinks or wine and bring them to either venue.

Checota said the switch to compostable materials is more expensive across the board, but the company is absorbing the cost and isn't passing it onto customers.

They began brainstorming on the program last year before the amphitheater opened. He, the staff and customers had all raised the issue before. The company thought it was important to meet "what we think are the demands of our community," he said.

Chase Jones, the city's energy conservation coordinator, said the company's plan aligns with the city's Zero by Fifty initiative. Early on, the city had discussed how arts and culture could be a means to educate and encourage the public, and a company of this visibility taking "a bold step" will help in that regard.

Checota said they hope people are patient during the first-phase roll-out. In the second phase, he said they're considering rooftop solar panels and other changes to make the physical facilities more eco-friendly.

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Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Entertainment editor for the Missoulian.