Discussion of Waste Audit

July 26, 2010

Hello my packaging and sustainability friends! I do apologize for my lack of blogging last week! I wish I could tell you that my excuse was that I was on vacation, but I wasn’t; instead, I was working with Dordan’s web designer on the restructuring of our sustainability information as with the introduction of our new initiatives, we had to create new space. This, consequentially, resulted in me re-writing a lot of our sustainability web content, which always takes a lot of brain power!

 In addition, several posts back I described how Dordan was brainstorming on a logo that would represent our new sustainability efforts. We wanted something that was a diversion from the traditional Dordan aesthetic (bold colors, hard lines, emphasis on technology and engineering), because our sustainability efforts are so warm and fuzzy, which thermoforming isn’t, traditionally. Ha. Anyway, a lot of other companies have their “green team” or “green squad” or whatever, which indicates to their customers and the public what the company they represent is doing in terms of “sustainability.” Because we didn’t want to join the bandwagon but wanted to convey that Dordan was actually doing something—a lot actually—in the way of sustainability initiatives, we thought that a logo that branded our actions would be super cool!

 After brainstorming internally with nothing to show for it, we turned to a local Woodstockian artist—Gabriel Karagianis—who is AMAZING. Check out his work here: http://www.gabrielshorn.org/

 Obviously ahistorical and abstract paintings don’t scream sustainability or corporate branding, so I was a little unsure of what he would produce. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long before he created an awesome concept, which I will soon unveil to you, my loyal packaging and sustainability friends. And to be a tease, it’s really, really, really cool and may in fact provoke us to alter that traditional Dordan aesthetic all together…more to come!

 So yeah, busy bee in terms of marketing.

 Shall we discuss the results of Dordan’s first waste audit, now that I have been given over a week to recover?

 Ok, our first waste audit was illuminating for several reasons, which is why I encourage every company to conduct there own. What I discovered was that the majority of materials we were sending to landfill were of the same “type.”

Check out the excel spread sheet here, which I created to help calculate the results of the audit; please note: I removed the quantities of material landfilled for proprietary considerations. Sorry Charlie!

And by the by, the whole copy and paste of spreadsheet into blog did not go very well– all the materials have been cut off and now I cant delete it! Weird bears. Sorry for the eye sore!

Location: Dordan’s central dumpster                    
Date: 7/15/2010                      
Tub weight: 5 Lbs.                       
Unit of measure: Lbs.                      
  Corrugate Heavy brown paper Wood scrap Dirty plastic scrap Green/white plastic strapping Plastic film/shrink wrap Metal strapping  Misc. paper Misc. plastic Food and food packaging  Paper towels 
Tub 1                      
Tub 2                      
Tub 3                      
Tub 4                      
Tub 5                      
Tub 6                      
Tub 7                      
Tub 8                      
Tub 9                      
Tub 10                      
Tub 11                      
Tub 12                      
Tub 13                      
Tub 14                      
Tub 15                      
Tub 16                      
Tub 17                      
Tub 18                      
Tub 19                      
Tub 20                      
Tub 21                      
Tub 22                      
Tub 23                      
Tub 24                      
Tub 25                      
Tub 26                      
Tub 27                      
Tub 28                      
Tub 29                      
Tub 30                      
Tub 31                      
Tub 32                      
Tub 33                      
Tub 34                      
Tub 35                      
Tub 36                       
Tub 37                      
Tub 38                      
                       
TOTAL:                      
                       

 While the weights have been excluded, consider the following assumptions:

  1. Post-industrial corrugate composed the largest category by weight of landfilled materials;
  2. Post-industrial “dirty” scrap composed the second largest category by weight of landfilled materials. While Dordan is proud to grind most of its scrap for recycling, there is some scrap that falls on the ground or gets mixed up with other resins that could be a contaminate if added to the regrind material. Like most post-industrial/consumer materials, our scrap regrind has to meet certain specs, depending on who is buying it for reprocessing; therefore, we have to maintain that the our scrap is clean and uncontaminated prior to selling it to a plastics remanufacturer. Get it?
  3. Wood scrap composed the third largest category by weight of landfilled materials;
  4. Heavy brown paper composed the forth largest category by weight of landfilled materials;
  5. Paper towels composed the fifth largest category by weight of landfilled materials;
  6. Flexible plastic packaging i.e. shrink wrap composed the six largest category by weight of landfilled materials;
  7. Followed by: Metal strapping, plastic strapping, food waste, misc. paper and plastic waste.

 I approached our CEO with the results of the audit, with a plan in mind. I was hoping (so, so very much), that prior to conducting the next audit, we could implement some sorting techniques via our employees, which would make my job A LOT easier. After all, the gross part only happened during the audit of the wet waste, which didn’t go very well, as I freaked out and weighed everything together, thereby compromising the integrity of the data. Because I was told that prior to purchasing a composter one had to determine how much “compostables” one generates, I thought it was very important to perform a legitimate audit of this material. And because all the food waste was commingled with the office paper and bathroom waste, I couldn’t generate reliable data. I will follow up with this thread in a bit…

 Anyway, I sat down across the desk from our CEO, results in hand. I took a deep breath, and began:

 “As you know, I performed our first waste audit last week.”

“And how did it go,” he inquired?

“Good…gross, but good…” I stuttered but quickly resumed.

“Unfortunately, I was unable to get a good reading of our food waste generation because nature’s process had begun and it was impossible to separate the food from the paper towel waste, among other things.”

“Ok…?”

“So I was hoping that we could maybe begin teaching our employees to segregate out their food waste from their food packaging waste in the cafeteria. Perhaps we could have like 4 bins: 1 for food waste, 1 for food packaging waste, one for recyclables i.e. aluminum cans, and one for misc. garbage that doesn’t fall into the above categories. This way we can really see how much we generate in order to select the most appropriate composter…

“Ok…that’s a possibility…but what about the waste generated from our factory,” he continued?

“Well, by far we throw away more corrugate than any other material; however, the tonnage isn’t that great. It may therefore be difficult to find a buyer, but again, I feel as though we need to perform more audits in order to establish a baseline upon which to assess our average material generation per week, month, etc.”

“Ok…?”

“So if we intend on conducting more audits, I think the goal would be to get really good data. In other words, in order to find a buyer, I assume we have to guarantee a certain amount of material per some time frame. Prior to engaging in said talks, we need to really know how much of this material we generate. Therefore, I suggest beginning to train our employees of the factory to segregate out the different industrial waste into different receptacles. Perhaps we could have one for corrugate ONLY; one for plastic scrap ONLY; etc. That way, performing our next audit would be much easier: we would only have to weigh the receptacle and subtract out the weight of said receptacle, which means no more dumpster diving!”

He looked as though he was pontificating…

“Would this be something you and the plant manager would consider” I continued?

“I don’t see why not,” he replied.

 After that he instructed me to do some more research, and tell him what I wanted; he would then determine if such an approach was feasible and if so, I could begin implementing it. WOHOOOOOOO!

 Oh man, I have to go!

 I am so sorry to do this to you but I have to suspend blogging until I have finished the ad content for Dordan’s August New Issue Alert! I am writing a white paper on recycling thermoforms, which is super technical, and as such, requires me to work very hard for the next several days as the content is due August 1st! I will be a crazy person until then; wish me luck.

 Tune in next week to learn more about achieving zero-waste, see our new sustainability logo, and much much more.

 YAY packaging and sustainability!

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