Day 8: Oct. 19, 2009

February 1, 2010

Dennis and I chatted again over the next several days. Unfortunately, because we just joined the SPC, my Superior didn’t want to join another industry group because of the associated fees. Rats!

Discouraged that we had to pay to be a part of an organization that had the same idealistic goals I did, I sent Robert the following email:

Hey Robert,

Thanks for hooking me up with Dennis– he is super nice and wants Dordan to become members of NAPCOR. At this point in time, however, we don’t think it would be wise to join another association because of the membership fees. Moreover, although they have a thermoformer division of the NAPCOR who are working towards re-capturing PET clamshells through existing recycling infrastructures, they have yet to successfully implement a recycling program. It’s hard to say what the best approach to this issue is, as it doesn’t appear as though the economics support it (in other words, the cost of collecting, sorting and cleaning PET clamshells exceeds the cost of virgin PET). Regardless of the economics, however, I am still working towards achieving this goal (to the dismay of my Superior) and am developing an initiative to present to a retailer that would allow us to reclaim our packages to be reground on-site and sold back to our material supplier.

As per my last email, I am still very interested in the Starbucks recycling pilot in New York and how, as a business, they are able to keep the cost association low enough to implement the program. I know you are super busy and I don’t expect you to continue to be such a doll, but if you have any contacts at Starbucks or anyone you think would be of assistance to me in regard to implementing a cost-effective recycling program that is compatible with the existing infrastructure, I would be tickled pink!

Again, thank you for all your help. It is nice to have a contact outside the business world who is committed to sustainability, not as a marketing incentive, but as a moral imperative.

Stay dry in rainy Cali and I look forward to speaking with you soon!

Best,

Chandler

My reference to getting a retailer on board with this recycling initiative stemmed from an article I found about Marks and Spencer, a UK-based retailer that actually has their customers de-rob their products from their packages after the point of purchase. Sort of like how Best Buy has a bin to dispose of batteries in, this retailer has bins specifically for reclaiming packaging waste post-consumer. I also thought a retailer may be a good place to start because a lot of the sustainability movement in the context of packaging has originated from retailers, specifically Walmart, with their proclamation to reduce packaging weight by 13% in 2010 via the packaging modeling software created by ECRM.

Any woo I am getting off track.

After a delicious lunch of Porillios’ Italian beef with sweet peppers, I returned to the office to find the following email from Robert:

Chandler,

The person you want to talk to is the Environmental Director of Starbucks.  He’s actually an SPC member as well and was at the meeting in Atlanta.  He’s a great guy and he said he’d be happy to chat with you about what they’re doing in NY. 

You might also be interested in speaking with somebody from our department that works with local governments.  They have a lot of knowledge of how local infrastructure works and they work with businesses all the time trying to assist them with increasing recycling rates.  I’ll check around and see if I can find the best person for you to talk to over there. 

Good luck with all of this, and please don’t hesitate to contact me with more questions or for updates!!

Robert

Groooooovy. Next task: Schedule a phone interview the Environmental Director of Starbucks. Tune in tomorrow to see where we go next in the splendid land of recycling in America.

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