Zero Waste by 2020 – A bold challenge.
While P&G has always been a company dedicated to environmental sustainability and social responsibility, its leadership made a bold declaration in 2017: every P&G manufacturing facilities must hit Zero Waste by 2020. Not only was this an admirable goal—one which benefits the company and its consumers around the globe—it’s also no small feat. P&G ’s manufacturing facility in Phoenix, where a popular biodegradable product is produced, was up for the challenge.
A history of skyrocketing waste (and costs)
Now, Recycle 1 was no stranger to P&G. By this time, we had been managing P&G’s paper shredding needs for more than 15 years. While paper shredding was under control, P&G’s landfill waste was just the opposite. The costs required to send the product to the landfill, and destroy it, were skyrocketing. In fact, at one time, P&G Arizona was spending more than $500,000 a year in landfill fees alone.
This dollar figure does not include the time it took to manage the landfill waste program. Waste Management came each week to empty two 40-yard containers—whether they needed emptying or not. And, to destroy the biodegradable consumer product made at the Arizona facility, P&G needed a full-time employee to escort landfill trucks to a location almost three hours south of their facility. Not only was a member of P&G’s management team losing out on nearly a full day’s productivity, but P&G was also spending enormous sums of money on freight. When coupled with the negative environmental impact of landfill waste, the current product destruction program made little sense.
From product destruction to monetization
Recycle 1 took a radical new approach to product destruction. Rather than wasting money on landfill fees and piling up waste, Recycle 1 destroyed P&G’s biodegradable product in an entirely new fashion.
First, Recycle 1 shredded the product containers, completely destroying them—but not before they sucked out the biodegradable product first. Next, Recycle 1 found a market for P&G’s “waste”, allowing them to not only dispose of their product in a responsible manner but to also transform it into a socially responsible revenue stream.
This phase saved P&G more than $500,000 in landfill fees. What was once a major expense for the company became a revenue stream.
Working with Recycle 1 enabled us to better manage our waste streams and go zero manufacturing waste-to-landfill. We would not have achieved this success without the guidance we received from Recycle 1. Reaching this goal has boosted pride among our employees; we know we are doing the right thing for the environment.
The path to Zero Waste
This brings us to 2017, where P&G was facing major challenges with sorting their waste streams. Recyclable items were regularly mixed with non-recyclable waste. This mixing of waste streams forced P&G to pay to dispose of items that could have been recycled. And then P&G leadership made the call: It was time to make the move to Zero Waste. Every manufacturing facility across the P&G organization was expected to achieve this by 2020.
To do this, Recycle 1 one fabricated an entirely new system for P&G to manage its waste. First, we performed a comprehensive waste audit. A Recycle 1 team sifted through an entire load of P&G waste, separating out any waste that was recyclable and anything that was the true waste, eventually destined for an incinerator. Recycle 1 weighed the waste, wrote a report on our findings and took pictures along the way. These findings were presented to P&G management.
Next, the audit allowed us to join P&G at the heart of the matter: right on the manufacturing plant’s floor. There, the Recycle 1 team coached P&G employees face-to-face, walking through each step at the plant. This ensured that waste was being sorted properly and that employees were receiving the training and communication they needed to be successful in the long run.
And finally, P&G went above and beyond to reach their goal. They re-evaluated materials used in their production lines. They brought in substitute materials. And they were open to process changes that had a high-impact, including increased employee communication and color-coded containers.
Together, Recycle 1 and P&G achieved Zero Waste – in just four months.
From paper shredding to Zero Waste
What started off as a simple engagement to manage office paper shredding turned into a waste management overhaul. From incredible money savings to new revenue streams to zero waste, P&G’s commitment to environmental responsibility demonstrates the success that can be achieved when a company makes smart decisions about their waste management.