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Go Green

From Recycling to Recovery

February 28, 2014

from-recycling-to-recoveryWe’ve taken a major, new step in managing “out-flow” from our production and distribution facilities. By “out-flow”, I mean the residues that come from manufacturing our Progressive line to the warehousing and shipping of products across the country.

For several years, we have been “happy recyclers”, separating out office and mixed papers, along with co-mingle materials such as cans, glass and plastics. By visual assessment on bin pick-up days, we were probably at a 50-50 level. Definitely room for improvement.

Late last year, we took the big leap into “recovery”. Recovery is the term for more focussed gathering of materials by category. In sustainability circles, we are literally thinking at the molecular level.

You may recall our “Great Shrink Wrap Challenge” of 2012 that yielded a metric ton of shrink wrap that we lovingly called “Krinkles”. Our warehouse team were the true champions who asked to continue the gathering and weighing. We had so many bags of compressed shrink wrap by the end of the year that we used it as a backdrop for a sustainable fashion show. When all was said and done, Krinkles was taken away to be recycled. Now, all our facilities divert this pliable plastic from landfill.

Now, we have taken the next step to “recovery”. We gather shrink wrap and other mixed, pliable plastics in two separate streams and then bale them into cubes that will expedite their use as a raw material for consumer
plastics. (photos attached). We now are paid by the bale which offsets the cost of machinery to do the baling.

We now have the ability to recover “wood pulp fibres” as well. OPF (office paper fine) is separated into full sheet and secured shredding recovery. Paper napkins (that haven’t been used with cleaning products) are also gathered as a separate fibre. Then there are mixed office papers that cover the range of catalogues, brochures and promo materials.

Did you know that wood pulp molecules can be re-used up to 20 times?

Our recovery categories now include metals (cans, aluminum), glass and hard plastics.

The comparison, as we get our recovery program into full swing, is that we used to have waste pick-up 3 times a week. Now it is once, every other week. That’s six bins reduced down to one in a two week period!! Recycled co-mingle materials would be picked up once a week. Now, it more concisely separated and compressed (where allowed) for pick-up once every two weeks. This reduces expensive fuel-charges and use of fuel, period.

Here’s the best news! Once recovered materials are picked up, paper fibres and plastics are processed locally (more fuel savings!) into materials that we can purchase using 100% recycled materials, including our own! Office papers, paper towels and tissues, even shipping boxes use our recovered raw materials. That’s called “closing the loop” and we are in it!

We have our sights set on even more innovation and inclusion for our out-flow materials. Amazingly, it is costing us less to do more!! We’ll share our metrics as the numbers come in.

In the meantime, we feel good knowing that we are doing more to help our planet “recover”.


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