What About the Waste?

by Pam Jackson
Apr 21, 2016
0

Recycling

In 2015, Envirologic completed a whole-office renovation project focusing on sustainable building and furniture products, energy and lighting upgrades, and the reuse and recycling of workstations and other office furniture. Company owners Jeff Hawkins and David Warwick felt it was important to create a physical space commensurate with their sustainable philosophy. We wrote a piece last year, Renovation for the Future, to share the top ten sustainable renovation elements in our project. With the site renovation complete, we've turned our attention to reducing waste and increasing our recycling efforts.

Envirologic is part of the Michigan Business Pollution Prevention Partnership (MBP3), a voluntary goal-setting level of the Environmental Stewards Partnership. We believe to make a change; we need to understand our waste metrics and develop goals to further reduce our impact on the planet. In Michigan, the residential recycling rate is only 14.5%, lower than every other Great Lakes state, and one of the lowest in the country. It's difficult to find accurate commercial/industrial recycling metrics, but we firmly believe each business has a responsibility to recycle as much waste (office and site) as possible. By implementing a more defined office recycling processes, we have been able to not only better educate ourselves but our staff as well. One person or one company can make a difference.

As our team is ramping up our recycling efforts, we're also participating in Project Zero: A Business Case for Zero Waste, a program presented by the Southwest Michigan Sustainable Business Forum (SWMSBF). David serves as Board Chair for the organization and as part of that role, has been instrumental in getting this program off the ground. He and Jeff have a number of organizations they support within the community; SWMSBF is one they've been involved with since its inception. Businesses in Kalamazoo had an opportunity to opt-in to Project Zero last fall. Currently, those that have signed on meet to learn new and better recycling methods and share innovative waste management strategies while upholding their commitment to sustainability for the Kalamazoo community. Although this program is currently in progress, the series will be repeated as other businesses have an interest.

Project Zero

We've found with recycling; it's all about education and easy access. One of the statements in our Company Mission reads, Do Good Work to Do Good (for the environment). We provide contaminant investigation and remediation services for our clients. When a project is complete, it's our job to ensure a building (or piece of land) is healthy to live in, work in or play in. Recycling just makes sense when our mission is to orchestrate the clean-up of contaminated sites. We've worked with our waste hauler to understand the amount of waste from our facility that is going to the landfill vs. being recycled. Our goal is to decrease our landfill waste by 50% in 2016. That sounds like a hefty goal, but we feel the organization now has the internal processes in place (through participation in the Project Zero program), and the buy-in from our team to meet that target. In addition, we're working hard to increase all of our recycling efforts; recently we added food composting to our recycling toolbox. Statistics show 40% of food in the U.S. goes to waste. Of that waste, over 97% ends up in the landfill. If you look at food waste facts for the U.S and around the world, it s alarming! Food composting is one more way we can reduce what we are sending to the landfill and meet our 2016 goal.

Food Waste

It's easy to talk about Doing Good; it's harder to find the time to make change happen. Sure, it takes staff time to implement new recycling efforts and educate the team, but why not? We invite you to join us in this endeavor. If you have questions about how we are implementing our program, please reach out to David Warwick, he's more than happy to share our recipe for success.

Resources:
Renovation for the Future - Envirologic
Measuring Recycling in the State of Michigan - Michigan Recycling Coalition
Recycling 101 - Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Project Zero - Southwest Michigan Sustainable Business Forum
End Food Waste Now


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