I’ve been a committed recycler since I was young. This dedication has resulted in some hoarding – most recently of plastic bags that I am determined to keep out of a landfill. It’s also resulted in some uncomfortable discussions with friends and co-workers when I call them out on placing a recyclable item in the trash on my watch.
The path of a committed recycler can still be a lonely one in the U.S. where Americans only recycle 22 percent of the materials they discard.
At Campbell, we set a goal in 2008 to achieve a 95 percent recycle rate. We now recycle 84 percent of the waste generated in our manufacturing facilities. So we are doing well if we compare ourselves to the overall U.S. recycle rate, but we know can do better and we want to do much more.
One of the areas where we’re driving our recycling efforts is across our plant network. It’s the people at those sites that are working hard to improve our efforts and help us to achieve our goals.
At our Bolthouse Farms facility in Bakersfield, California, those employees are making a huge impact. In just a little over a year, the onsite team led by Charles Daniels and Jon Iriart, increased the facility’s recycle rate to 90 percent and diverted roughly 70,000 tons of material from landfill last year. That’s everything from cardboard to plastics from ingredients packaging and final products.
The game changers for them were purchasing new equipment like a Horizontal Baler, Portable Dock, and a Shredder machine to separate plastic bottles and the liquids they contain, creating a central Waste Transfer Station and Recycling Center within the facility, and educating employees on how to collect and sort materials that can be recycled. The new shredder alone has the potential to save 25 tons of plastic from the landfill each year, as well as diverting 1,225 tons of liquid to the onsite wastewater treatment facility to be reused.
There are other ways this team helps us move toward our goals — like the facility’s long history of diverting food waste to animal feed whenever possible or how Bolthouse Farms uses nearly the whole carrot during their production process.
The Bolthouse team has also been able to avoid landfill tipping fees through their recycling work and in turn was able to see a financial return for the materials they recycle. Another reason why sustainability and delivering on the bottom line go hand in hand.
So on this day, and every day, be a committed recycler. It pays off and honestly, we recyclers need some more company.
By: Melissa Donnelly, Manager of Sustainability Integration and Metrics
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