In today’s sustainability-focused society, companies are more committed than ever to diminishing the amount of waste they generate. They do so through initiatives such as office recycling or food waste collection programs.
In recent years, however, a growing number of companies have taken their waste reduction efforts to the next level. Through a variety of initiatives focused on diverting waste from the landfill, the following nine companies have earned “zero waste” status. This means that virtually none of the waste generated by these companies ends up in a landfill.
Read on to learn more about these creative companies and their inspiring zero waste stories.
The auto manufacturer General Motors has been focusing on landfill-free efforts for more than a quarter of a century. Its dedication paid off with the announcement that the company’s total number of zero waste facilities (including both its manufacturing and non-manufacturing sites) had reached 152 in 2016.
This is four years ahead of the company’s original goal of having 150 zero waste sites by 2020. GM credits recycling and reuse programs, waste-to-energy initiatives, the development of products from recycled materials, and strong employee participation for its zero waste success.
For a facility with 44,000 employees, 33 cafes, 32 espresso bars, and over 500 kitchenettes, diverting 99.5 percent of waste from the landfill is not an easy task. But that’s exactly what the Richmond, Washington campus of Microsoft has done, according to the US Zero Waste Business Council.
The Council awarded the Gold Level of Zero Waste Certification to the campus in late 2016. To earn this designation, Microsoft implemented employee-driven reuse, recycling, and composting programs in addition to developing sustainable partnerships with community stakeholders.
A strong commitment to recycling paper, cardboard, and plastic; melting excess metal and other materials down for reuse; organic composting; and waste-to-energy incineration helped Apple attain zero waste status for all 14 of its final assembly plants located in China.
As an additional sustainability goal, Lens Technology, the company that supplies glass to Apple’s China operations, has made a commitment to run its Apple-related activities on 100 percent renewable energy (primarily wind power) by 2018.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
HotRot composting, an innovative new in-vessel composting solution for large-scale composting efforts, is one of the tools Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. used to earn its Platinum Level Zero Waste Certification. This designation recognizes the company’s dedication to environmental sustainability and forward-thinking practices.
In addition to diverting 99.8 percent of its waste from the landfill annually, the brewery also operates one of the United States’ largest privately-owned solar arrays. The brewery recently completed an overhaul of its keg line which led to annual water savings of 750,000 gallons.
Best known for manufacturing confectionary products, Mars, Inc. hasn’t always been a household name for sustainability. A decade ago, the company used to send more than 154,000 tons of waste to the landfill every year.
Today, the company operates 126 global manufacturing sites and produces 10 million tons of products annually. However, the company has cut its landfill waste to – you guessed it – zero.
Mountain Rose Herbs
Mountain Rose Herbs is Oregon’s first Zero Waste Facility (as certified by Green Business Certification Inc.). The company diverts more than 96 percent of its waste from the landfill. Additionally, 100 percent of its power comes from renewable energy.
The company’s devotion to sustainability and environmental awareness is found in its products as well as its operations. Mountain Rose Herbs offers fair trade, organic, and sustainably-sourced botanical products.
Earth Friendly Products
If it makes sense to you that cleaning products should be produced in an environmentally friendly way, you’re not the only one. Earth Friendly Products walks the walk when it comes to sustainable operations.
All five of the company’s manufacturing facilities have received the Zero Waste Platinum Certification from the US Zero Waste Business Council. Earth Friendly Products estimates that more than 95 percent of its waste is successfully diverted from the landfill through recycling, reuse, and reduction programs.
Toyota’s North American facilities have found some exceptionally creative ways to keep 96 percent of their waste out of the landfill. First, the company implements standard initiatives like food waste composting and waste-to-energy projects.
However, the company also recycles vinyl from advertising billboards, repurposing it into reusable tote bags, trip planners, and other related products for its vehicle brands, including Lexus and Scion.
Bronco Wine Company
Bronco Wine Company is one of the largest wine producers in the US. However, it is the company’s commitment to many small initiatives that have helped it earn a Gold Level Zero Waste Certification for its facility in Ceres, California.
Steps that have brought the company’s landfill diversion rate to 99.7 percent include banning Styrofoam cups from the facility, using color-coded waste and recycling bins to ensure different waste types end up at the correct destination, and repurposing unsaleable wine by sending it to a distillery.