More companies than ever are embracing zero waste goals as a way to enhance their sustainability efforts and reduce their dependence on unpredictable raw material prices.
Zero waste products do more than help a company achieve its sustainability goals, however. They set a precedent for their industries, leading the way to a waste-free economy.
Here are five zero waste products to watch that are revolutionizing their industries
1. Unilever Packaging
Unilever is on track to make 100% of its packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. The company has also pledged, as part of its new commitments for a waste-free world, to use at least 25% recycled plastic in its packaging.
As the company behind several household products and brands like Dove, Lipton and Suave, Unilever continues to look for additional ways to reduce waste in its own facilities as well. Measures like requiring suppliers to take back their pallets and containers and working with suppliers to reduce packaging that raw materials are shipped in have helped the company to achieve its sustainability goals.
Its zero waste initiatives have propelled the company to savings of more than $225 million.
2. General Motors Parts
The automotive industry is competitive, so it comes as no surprise that manufacturers are looking for ways to gain an edge. General Motors has embraced zero waste principles in both the manufacturing of its products and overall at several of its facilities.
For example, GM uses recycled water bottles from Flint, Michigan, to manufacture the engine cover insulation in its vehicles, as well as for air filters in some of the company’s facilities. The company even converted Chevrolet Bolt battery covers into wildlife habitat nest boxes for ducks.
The savings GM has experienced through prioritizing zero waste initiatives are more than a feel-good story, however. General Motors now has more than 140 manufacturing and non-manufacturing landfill-free facilities globally. These initiatives have boosted the company’s bottom line … generating $1 billion by recycling 2 million metric tons of byproduct.
3. Sierra Nevada Brewery
When manufacturing beer, there tends to be leftover hops and barley. Sierra Nevada, which has built its business on the “reduce, reuse, recycle” model, sends any leftover hops and barley … approximately 150,000 pounds daily … to local farms. It’s there that these grains are repurposed as feed for cattle and other farm animals.
Its Chico, California, factory also features 10,751 solar panels to dramatically cut down on electricity use. Its Mills River, North Carolina, brewery maintains a 99.8% diversion rate from landfills through its reduction, recycling and composting initiatives.
4. Procter & Gamble Packaging And Products
Over the next decade, Procter & Gamble has set several sustainability goals in an effort to work toward zero waste in its brands, supply chain and manufacturing facilities.
Pampers, one of P&G’s products, has been running a diaper waste collection pilot in Amsterdam, with the goal of launching diaper recycling in 10 cities over the next nine years.
P&G is also working toward the goal of ensuring 100% of its packaging will be recyclable or reusable by 2030 and to reduce virgin petroleum plastic in packaging by 50%. The company has already begun this process with some of its products, with Old Spice and Secret becoming the first major brands to feature all-paper tube packaging that is made from 90% recycled paper.
5. Temarry Recycling Closed Loop Process
Temarry Recycling is paving the way toward a more sustainable future through its closed loop recycling program that is restorative and regenerative.
The Southern California-based company has a facility just across the border in Tecate, Mexico, that works with companies that produce industrial solvents and want to reach zero waste goals. Closed loop recycling is an example of a circular economy in action, which aims to keep materials out of landfills and at their highest utility and value.
Here’s how it works:
- A waste to energy process converts high BTU organic solids to steam that is then used as energy on-site.
- A solvent distillation process uses this steam as energy to power recovery stills. Through distillation, spent solvents are re-manufactured and sold back into industry for their original solvent properties.
- A water treatment process extracts usable water from industrial hazardous wastes, including acids, bases, coolants, oily water and latex paint. Treated water is then used for industrial needs on-site, such as during the waste to energy process and in the cooling tower.
But how does this closed loop recycling process differ from other methods that companies use when they must dispose of their solvent waste? Some companies send their spent solvents to fuel blending facilities. Here’s why closed loop recycling is a more forward-thinking approach:
- No degradation of properties: While fuel blending is an environmentally-friendly option because it delays the disposal of materials, it is considered an open loop recycling process the end product will serve a different purpose. Closed loop recycling, on the other hand, allows the recycling of a material that can be used indefinitely without the degradation of properties.
- Reduction in carbon footprint and transportation costs: Temarry Recycling also offers companies, especially those located on the West Coast, an opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint and transportation costs. When West Coast companies send their solvent waste to fuel blending facilities, they dramatically increase their carbon footprint and transportation costs due to the amount of diesel fuel needed to move that waste across the country to Kansas and Arkansas.
- An end in liability: A company’s liability for their hazardous waste also ends at the U.S.-Mexico border, where Temarry Recycling becomes the Principal Responsible Party in the U.S. and Recicladora Temarry de Mexico accepts generator liability in Mexico.
Companies like Temarry Recycling that offer zero waste products and services are revolutionizing their industries and paving the way toward a more sustainable future.
While it may be impossible to go fully zero waste in the manufacturing of your product, there are parts of your manufacturing process where zero waste can be achieved. Our article, How To Go Zero Waste And Lead Your Industry, outlines why focusing on where your hazardous waste goes is a good place to start.