The Waste of Doing Business

by Todd McDonald on February 23, 2012

Dasani®’s PlantBottle®, Hellman’s® PET jar, even Kentucky Fried Chicken’s reusable sides container. These days it’s clear that sustainability is the name of the game when it comes to product manufacturing.

But, as Linda Lannon points out in her recent article Reducing Waste Is Asset Management, while “many businesses today are looking at ways to increase efficiency along with environmental and social responsibility. Often, these efforts are focused on product manufacturing, seeking out third party certifications or developing cradle-to-cradle programs to address all phases of the product life cycle.  What’s not always examined is the waste created in the business of doing business.”

And companies that ignore these issues are not only missing out on a great opportunity to make a more powerful impact on the environment, but are also missing out on ways to improve their bottom line.

To illustrate this, Lannon examines the issue of paper towel waste. Lannon states that the average person uses approximately 3,000 paper towels outside the home every year – with a significant portion of that usage occurring in the workplace. In fact, Lannon tells us that “paper towels can comprise 20% or more of a buisness’s unrecyclable waste stream,” resulting in supply costs, janitorial expenses, as well as waste removal fees – not to mention the environmental costs related to things like landfill waste and CO2 emissions.

Lannon’s solution? Keeping an open mind and exploring options like People Towels (a reusable personal hand towel and alternative to paper towels) to work towards creating a sustainable business culture while also reducing operating expenses.

This made us think about some of the steps we take at TEQ to reduce the “business of doing business” waste.

To start…we recycle all web scrap (skeletal waste not made into parts).

And, for some projects, (like the millions of ear thermometer covers we produce daily) we take this a step further – recovering, regrinding and reusing the web scrap (using a mix of 80% virigin/ 20% recycled content for each new batch of product).

We even recycle all of our aluminum chips and scrap from our tooling process.

What are some of the steps your company takes to reduce the “business of doing business” waste?

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