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Solutions by Issue
Case Study: The Town of South Brunswick NJ
Nancy Paquette, the former South Brunswick Township recycling coordinator, developed a compelling cost comparison between the township’s residential solid waste collection/disposal and residential curbside collection recycling programs (both of which are collected on a weekly basis by the same company) in which she determined that recycling is 60% more cost effective than solid waste disposal on a cost per ton basis and a cost per pound basis.
Ms. Paquette’s calculations are as follows:
- Estimated 2012 cost for solid waste and recycling service per unit
- Solid Waste: Base collection cost: $1,359,407
- Disposal: 15,773 tons (2011 waste) 15,773 tons X $62.50 = $985,813
- Total annual cost per unit = $1,359,407 + $985,813= $2,345,220/16,115 units = $145.53/unit/year or $12.13/month
- Cost per ton: $2,345,220/15773 tons=$148.69/ton
- Cost/pound: $148.69/2000=$.074
- Recycling: Base Collection Cost (Single Stream): $381,948 Revenue (2012 with 4 months averaged): $112,550 (4,595 tons)
- Total Annual Cost per unit: $381,948-$112,550=$269,398/16,115 units =$16.72/unit/year or $1.39/unit/month
- Cost per ton: $269,398/4595 = $58.63/ton Cost per pound: $58.63/2000=$.029
Relationship between sustainability and brand value: Although it’s hard to find consistency among definitions of sustainability, it is common sense that it incorporates companies’ relationships with the natural environment, social causes, and corporate governance. In boardrooms, this translates to the “triple bottom line,” i.e., a company’s initiatives must consider environmental, social, and financial impacts. Yes, financial impacts. That means companies must make investment decisions that will benefit the environment and society, and guarantee the sustainability of the project itself. We are not talking about charitable causes – but ethical products and services that will change consumers’ behavior and help them to live a more “sustainable” life.
Brands enter the debate right about here. A leading brand translates to customers what is relevant in today’s world, influencing buying behavior. It also develops a strong relationship with customers because of its distinct offerings, leading to repeated purchasing. In other words, a brand creates value in two ways: generating demand, and reducing risk and securing future earnings for the business. A sustainability program that is consistent with a brand’s positioning will create value for companies by creating more value for its brands.
Generating demand for products and services
A study from Carbon Trust, a UK-based consultancy that helps businesses to reduce their carbon emissions, shows that social and environmental concerns can result in changes in consumer behavior. Among several factors that provoke this shift are “issues of immediate personal impact” and “realistic available choices.” That’s where brands can make a difference.
Let’s take a sector for which sustainability is a big issue: automotive. Companies such as Honda recognized that mineral fuels are limited and prices of petroleum are rising. This motivated it to adapt its product range to fuel-efficient cars. Honda was one of the first movers in this direction and this is paying dividends today. It was the only car manufacturer to report better US sales in June 2008 than in June 2007, credited to fuel-efficient Civics and Fits. While reducing dependence of gas-guzzling cars and increasing the number of fuel-efficient models became a “must do” in the automotive sector, Honda was first to differentiate and is ahead of the debate. This leading behavior contributed to an increase of 28% in Honda’s brand value since 2004. –Source
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin:
A group of operating room nurses and doctors teamed up with the hospital’s environmental services department and started sorting polypropylene surgical sheeting, known as blue wrap, out of the trash.
“The nurses and doctors came to us and said, ‘We think we can do this,'” said Chris Stoll, director of environmental services for the hospital.
They were right.
In August, the operating room diverted more than 5 tons of blue wrap material from the hospital’s waste stream, Stoll said.
That represented nearly 6 percent of the hospital’s total waste for the month. And the hospital is saving more than $13,000 a year in disposal costs as a result, Stoll said.
The blue wrap is handled by Waste Management’s A1 Recycling Services in Milwaukee.
The polypropylene blue wrap is sent to Becker Plastics in Neenah, said Lynn Morgan, a spokeswoman for Waste Management’s Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula region. Becker Plastics turns the material into pellets, then sends it to end users who make it into other products – including more blue wrap.
Reusing a product does not require major manufacturing manipulation. A reused object is simply put back to work, whether for its original purpose or not.
Examples of reusing materials include
- Donating old, working computers to a school
- Allowing customers to return used packaging (e.g., boxes, packing peanuts, bubble wrap), so that the business can use it again
- Furnishing an office with reclaimed materials instead of purchasing new chairs, tables, etc.
Why It Matters, Reusing resources can help a business save money while decreasing its ecological footprint. It increases the lifespan of investments and spares a business the cost of buying new products.
Reuse can also impact the community. Businesses can donate old materials and products to schools, creative art centers, or any number of reuse organizations. This benefits the community and avoids wasting good materials. –Source
Business owners and employees may be surprised by what ‘trash’ they can repurpose to help the firm. If you can think of a way to reuse an object (or part of it), keep it!
For example, instead of tossing used paper, consider shredding it and using it for packing material. Or set aside a bin for scrap paper, so employees can reuse the sheets for one-off printing or note taking.
Before tossing office furniture and supplies, think about using them in different rooms. An old filing cabinet doesn’t have to stay in your office. You can just as easily use it to store snacks in the break room. You can turn an old crate into a new stepping stool. Try thinking outside the box, you may be surprised what you come up with. – Source
If you can’t reuse an object within your business, consider if someone else could use it. Perhaps you could donate your old computers to an underfunded school in your area. If someone else could use your items, don’t throw them away.
If you can’t think of any specific organizations that could use your materials, post them on a website like Freecycle. Freecycle connects people who are donating supplies with people who need them.
A common source of waste is single-use tableware. Instead of purchasing and providing disposable tableware, encourage employees to bring their own reusable mugs, cups, plates and flatware, or supply reusable tableware and wash on-site. To take it a step further, replace disposable takeout containers with returnable, reusable ones.
With a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, two middle schools in Minnetonka, Minn., replaced their disposable tableware with reusable bowls and utensils. They were able to prevent 6,700 pounds of trash and expect to save $23,000 over three years. What’s more, they lightened their environmental footprint: The use of stainless steel utensils reduces greenhouse gases by 77 percent and conserves tens of thousands of gallons of water over the lifecycle of the product.
If your campus cafeteria doesn’t have a dishwasher, it can be cost-effective to install one and make the switch to reusables. A Minnesota Technical Assistance Program assessment of a state agency cafeteria found that switching from disposable to reusable tableware would reduce an estimated 7,700 pounds of waste and save the agency $17,400 annually, even taking into account an initial investment in a dishwasher. – Source
Depending on your product or products, you may have several suppliers providing a number of deliveries every day. These deliveries may then be repackaged to be couriered to paying customers, and although you may not have any control on the customer end of how their waste is disposed of, you do have control over how much packaging you receive and send your product out in. Especially if your product is imperishable or resilient against breakage, minimal packaging is needed for transportation on both ends.
Ensuring your suppliers package your product(s) in as little packaging as possible and requiring the materials used are recyclable will not only reduce your company’s waste but your supplier’s too. The ethical choice to be conscious of your contribution to waste and carbon emissions will help your company to widen its demographic and encourage environment conscious potential customers to invest their time and money in your company and not a competitors – balancing out the extra cost of sourcing a waste conscious supplier. –Source
Keep files digitally instead of paper files if at all possible.
According to Eco-Officiency; The typical U.S. office worker uses more than 10,000 sheets of paper per year, which is about 2 cases of paper per employee. With an average price of $40 for a case of standard copy paper, this is an $80 annual cost per employee. The cost of the paper is only about 10–11% of the lifecycle cost of that paper, according to a government study conducted by California’s Alameda County.
The main costs of paper documentation fall into copying, delivery, handling, storage, and retrieval of that paper, with copying costs at 33% and distribution costs at 56%, according to the Alameda study.
Other studies show that for every dollar spent on printing documents, companies incur another $6 in handling and distribution of the paper. NOTE: The Alameda County study was reported in Mandy Haggith’s book Paper Trails: From Trees to Trash—The True Cost of Paper (Virgin Books, 2009).
According to Price Waterhouse Coopers in a white paper written by Edge Systems LLC, the average organization spends about $20 in labor to file each paper document, approximately $120 in labor searching for each misfiled document, and $220 in re‐creation of a document.
A study conducted by Deloitte & Touche in the early 1990s found that U.S. managers spent an average of three hours a week looking for paper that had been misfiled, mislabeled, or lost.
IDC Research estimated that the typical enterprise with 1,000 knowledge workers wasted $2.5 to $3.5 million per year searching for information and re‐creating lost documents.
Considerable time is still wasted and used inefficiently in managing paper documentation, especially when a high percentage of the data is created and generated electronically. -source
Bellingham Washington School District
From 2006, when the pilot program began, through the 2008-2009 school year, the district diverted over 800,000 pounds from the waste stream, resulting in a net savings of $53,000. Even with the extra the district spends now that it uses paper products instead of Styrofoam, it still comes out ahead.
But the benefits are more than financial. Students learn about the science of composting and about being responsible consumers. The community devotes less space to landfills. And the individual schools benefit from the compost itself, which the district buys back for landscaping. –Source
Did you know that in a commercial kitchen, it’s estimated that as much as 70% of all waste is made up of organic material like food scraps and soiled napkins?
Imagine reducing your waste removal bill by nearly 70% each month! With a minimal amount of planning and effort, you can not only easily reduce this cost immediately, but you can also put this waste to good use and increase profits. –Source
EPA CASE STUDIES
New Seasons Markets: New Seasons Markets operates 12 stores in the Pacific Northwest and strives to support the local economy and sustainable agriculture. Since 2006, New Seasons Market has increased diversion of organic materials, including food waste to compost by 109 percent. Since 2011, they have diverted more than 2,410 tons of food from landfills and saved more than $25,000 in waste expenses. Find out more in the case study about New Seasons Market’s food donation and composting initiatives.
Petco Park: Petco Park, home to the San Diego Padres, implemented a food composting program in 2005 helping the venue to save money on its trash disposal bills. In 2011, Petco Park diverted 164 tons from landfill, saving $75,000 since 2005. Learn more from the 2012 presentation on their efforts. – Source
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