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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Emerging Trend: Recycling PROFIT Centers

In the past corporations classified valuable material generated within their operations as trash and paid for it to leave their premises.  Astute business leaders recognize a significant percentage of "trash" items are valuable materials supported by commodity markets.  With a perception shift, companies are realigning their "waste" logistics, both equipment and practices, to source-separate material generated on-site into bales or other mediums for sale.

By adding green jobs for the source-separation process, companies evolve from paying to being paid for material to leave their facilities.  In general the increase in labor and any additional equipment costs is more than offset by cost reduction and added revenue.  The result:  Improved bottom lines!

Scott on right with Indy Mayor
@ Awards Luncheon
Zero Waste Zones National Zone Participant Piazza Produce improved their bottom line by over $30,000 after implementing zero waste practices.  To his amazement Scott Lutocka, Piazza Produce facilities manager, receives bids for Piazza's  baled plastic.  On March 27 Piazza won the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Award at the City of Indianapolis Sustainability Awards.

The key to transforming from a cost to profit center is maintaining material value via source-separation.  In general, selling directly to a manufacturer or mill for use in the production process results in the highest purchase price.  Each time material is touched a significant cost is added, reducing the bottom line benefit. 

For many companies, the task of revamping their entire disposal methods is daunting so they opt for the traditional pay-to-leave system.  Thus, a new industry is emerging, logistics management focused on zero waste goals.  Industry leaders do not own hauling or destination assets and maintain  flexibility to maximize savings|revenue generation.  Programs must be tailored to a company's specific operations and to their local material end-use market.

New Elemental Impact Partner and Sustainable Food Court Initiative Team member, Heritage Interactive Services is a logistics management hero with an amazing resume of zero waste manufacturing clients.  Ei is thrilled to partner with HIS on a series of programs in the creation phase.

The Ei | HIS | TS meeting group
On April 16 & 17, HIS president Bob Zetty along with business relationship director Amy Moreland and VP strategic resources group Yanet Montanez visited Atlanta for a mini meeting marathon.  The first meeting with Tishman Speyer, owner of five Atlanta properties including Colony Square and Midtown Plaza, set a fantastic tone for the remaining meetings.  Follow-up is underway to begin the assessment process of the two Midtown properties for a zero waste phased-in plan development.

Susan, Bob, Amy & Yanet in front of
Souper Jenny Soup Truck
After a delicious lunch at ZWZ-Buckhead Participant Souper Jenny's, the Ei | HIS entourage met with the Spelman College facilities and ground management team headed by Art Frazier. To aggregate the volume necessary to create a recycling profit center, HIS | Ei hope to develop a collaborative program working in unison with the Atlanta University Center colleges.  The Ei FB album, 04-16-12 Spelman College Recycling Tour, gives the pictorial recap of the campus tour following the lively, effective meeting.

Earlier in the month, Ei program director Susan Montgomery and Ei founder Holly Elmore met with four of the five AUC facilities directors about a collaborative program to great enthusiasm.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region IV Administrator's office is supportive of the collaborative program and encouraged building a zero waste template for college campuses.  

A smiling crew after a lively mtg &
ready for a campus tour
In alignment with the EPA's request, Mecklenburg County senior environmental specialist Trey Miller joined the meeting via conference call and followed up with Amy afterwards.  Trey spearheads Charlotte-area CAUSE -  Colleges and Universities Sustaining the Environment.  

Intertwined between major program introductory meetings, the HIS folks met with local Ei Partners and ZWZ Participants.  The full two-day visit ended with participation in the Greenprint Midtown Interactive Visioning Session where Bob met Robert Reed of Southface who coordinated the session.  How fun if a collaborative recycling program for Midtown businesses is developed where everyone wins:  Midtown businesses improve bottom lines, local manufacturing operations increase their recycled material content and valuable material no longer ends its life in a landfill.  Stay tuned as small seeds were planted!

The Ei FB album, 04-12 HIS Visits ATL, gives a pictorial recap of the meeting-packed two days.
Bob & Yanet @ Greenprint
Midtown event

It is invigorating to actively participate in evolving standard business practices to those that make good business and environmental sense.  An impressive Ei Partner Team is working closely with national and global leaders enthusiastic to create zero waste business environments.  As leaders, these heroes will share within their respective industries.  

The glimmer of hope is now a beacon of light:  we are returning to our ancestral roots where zero waste is merely how it is done.


  1. It's great to see people profiting from recycling, rather than businesses paying to dispose of their waste!


  2. Yes, George is so fun to witness the tides shift. Remember it is material, NOT waste! Thanks for reading and commenting on the post.