It is getting harder and harder to squeeze efficiency and profit out of your plant. Each year companies challenge themselves to improve the bottom line. Each year as the low hanging fruit gets picked you have to look farther up the tree for opportunities. Most companies have recycling operations geared around paper and aluminum. Depending on your revenue this can be a low priority area. What is even a lower priority is trash. You pay to have your trash removed. What if you were able to greatly reduce or eliminate your trash container pulls? What if instead of paying to have the stuff removed you were getting paid for it?

To look at this in more detail I spoke with Steve Whittaker from SRW Consulting. Steve focuses on process improvement and the health, safety and sustainability areas. These areas are not always sexy but they can provide returns to your bottom line in many different ways. Steve described a project he did at Monroe Litho in Rochester, NY. Monroe Litho is certified under the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership. They have been interested in these process improvements as a Marketing tool as well as a cost saver. Chris Pape, the owner of Monroe Litho, is the main driving force of this initiative.

Once Monroe Litho decided to tackle this project they felt the best approach was to padlock the dumpster and see what was going into it. The concept was to recycle/reuse/repurpose and reprocess all materials which had been “thrown into the dumpster”.  Changing habits can be hard to do but after a period of education and training, the employees bought in and offered many innovative solutions.

They established collection points in the plant for the recyclable items. The items they recycled were paper, aluminum, corrugated, plastic wrapping and banding, scrap metal and electronics. Even if you don’t get much for the items that went into the trash you are not paying to have it taken away.

Based on the size of your shop and how much material you generate decisions need to be made about what is worth accumulating. The approach was to handle as little as possible “touch once and out the door”.

There was a second focus, how to reduce, recycle or eliminate unwanted materials that were coming in the front door. This requires some time and cooperation from your suppliers. Skids can be picked up and reused, sold or given to other suppliers. Monroe worked with Xpedx to stock certain items on the floor so they could use skid quantities instead of cartons. Drums can be used instead of smaller containers. Now blanket recycling is possible given the right set of circumstances.

Some of Monroe Litho’s customers were excited about this effort as well. Initially this was focused as a marketing effort to continue to brand Monroe Litho as a leader in environmental responsibility. Some customers, including nonprofits, large corporations and companies focused on environmental products and concerns saw Monroe’s leadership as a way to set Monroe apart from the pack. In today’s crowded marketing space you need any advantage you can get.

If you want to learn more about turning trash into cash contact Steve Whittaker at SRW Consulting at (585) 314-3312 or [email protected].  Next article I’ll focus on getting more from your paper and aluminum recycling.