Unwasted: The Future of Business on Earth (Full Length Documentary)

Unwasted: The Future of Business on Earth (Full Length Documentary)

English Subtitle: Nick ● the Freelander There is no waste in nature. When a tree falls, it’s
only halfway through its life When a bear or an animal finishes eating food and processing it in its body that becomes fertilizer for future life on the forest floor so it’s a bits..a beautiful thing the way nature has worked this all out. There is no waste in nautre The human animal is in fact the only animal on the planet to create waste that nature cannot process One of the reasons I got involved in this industry
is to highlight the issue of waste as one of the most important environmental issues of our time And I think a lot of other issues have gotten a lot of attention We’ve been really lucky..I think..
recycling is getting more and more popular But I think the idea of garbage in general of landfills of being done with something putting it in a bag or putting it in a can at the end of your road that it just goes somewhere And the truth is, that somewhere is also a place on this planet that we all share Really when it comes to landfills, it’s a “N.I.M.U.”: Not In My Universe! I not only don’t want it in my
neighborhood or my backyard I really don’t want it in my County and
frankly I don’t want it in my State Put it somewhere else. Well everybody else feels the same way What if we took a stance said “only in
your backyard! You generated it you deal with it!” I think there’s some value in that. It
would make people start to think a little harder about “Well what am I doing? Where is this going?” Whose problem really is it? Now you have to understand that in Seattle we don’t have our own landfill We instead contract with the landfill that’s actually located in Oregon, some 250 miles away And in order to get the trash there, it has to be loaded onto trains a mile-long train filled with trash The train leaves at 3 o’clock everyday from Seattle except for Saturdays It goes 250 miles to Oregon where it then goes up a hill
into this huge landfill where in the winter they actually have to
heat up the cars in order to dump all the garbage And there’s a..it’s a huge landfill and there’s a huge
30-foot tall chain-linked fence near the top landfill and then another one further away, a smaller one,
just to catch the plastic bags that are blowing It’s a really amazing place to go to We’re all paying for landfills around the country Everybody in the U.S. is working with some system Whether it’s a municipal system that manages their own waste locally or if it’s a system that ships their waste to other parts of the country You know, there are so many different models and how that works The resources involved in picking that up from your curb,
taking into wherever its destination is and then having to dispose of it, you’re still part of that And the reason you should care is because that’s going to make a difference for the environment, for the economy, for your costs for all of the things that you care about, it’s going to make a difference You know in Economics um..there’s this term of “externalities”, and there’s a lot of costs out there that we collectively bear as a society whether it’s habitat destruction or whether its costs
that are directly being imposed on us as citizens who didn’t ask for those costs to be put on us So the cities are under huge budget pressure right now
and they need to cut their costs And if they can cut their costs in terms of how they’re managing their waste and start to make more money off the recycling so these plastics they can make money off of, if they get them separated, and people are actually recycling them and the same thing with compost So it’s.. it’s.. it’s really..can become more of a fiscal issue
than an environmental issue in some cases Our latest statistics is that even with the recycling
as high as it is in King County that still more than half of what’s going into the
landfill could be recycled or reused You know.. Seattle with its premiere recycling
program..the..program of the country Probably people in Francisco might argue
with you And 60% of the residential wastes are still recyclable you know so..we’re not..70% percent of the commercial wastes oftentimes are recyclable. So there’s a huge opportunity And by “recyclable”, I mean, there’s collection program, there’s market, there’s technology. It’s not esoteric blue sky stuff It’s worth noting that garbage is more expensive than recycling..um..and for a good reason You haul your garbage off to a dump and it gets covered and buried there and that location, that site, then has no more use Whether it’s that land or the product you’re putting inside of it So 3.5 million tons of garbage in the current Cathcart Landfill took us 12 years. That was it It’s a 56-acre landfill..you know..you
can do the math on..on how high that was When it was done, you’re not really done. You just don’t get to use it for a revenue purpose anymore Now it becomes a revenue extractor and you now spend money to maintain this carefully contained trapezoid of trash You pull out the gas. That costs money You pull out the water and you treat that water and then you sink monitoring wells around the landfill and you monitor those landfills to trace the extent of the..third law of
thermodynamics..everything leaks And all of that costs money And its money against which you are not making revenue so therefore it is now a cost center Landfills in general in the 30-year post-closure period are somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 million bucks Ask yourself why..why should things go to landfill? Why should we use space, land for garbage? Is that a good idea? I mean..I think we’re all starting to see that this world we (‘re) living isn’t all that big If your only measurement is Dollars, then I think one could make the argument that “yes, people here are paying the full freight of their garbage” I mean it..in fact..it’s dramatically inflated Their..their..garbage bill is paying for salmon habitat restoration and graffiti removal and lots of other things..that..that the municipalities do that are good And th…and th..and those things are funded through utility taxes Um..but I also believe that if you..if you count the impact on the world and the environment then there’s no doubt that we are stealing from the future Tipping fees provide us a significant incentive.. a lot of what we see if we can’t you know..let’s say.. make money or extract value from the commodities we need to cover our costs through the avoidance of disposal fees and that’s a big incentive And so when you have markets like Seattle or Vancouver up in Canada, which is part of my area, where they have high disposal fees It’s for a reason, because they’re trying to promote recycling and wasting less We’ve got excess.. excess landfill capacity but the..yeah..the issue is really conservation of resources, wise use of resources If you have waste, you’re.. you’re..you’re inefficient
, you’re wasting money There’s..it’s an opportunity..opportunity to reduce costs,
increase profits And from a commercial standpoint..you know..waste represents a lot of opportunity to be more efficient and more more profitable Go visit your landfill. Go see what you’re putting in there See what it looks like when you and your neighbors and everybody else conglomerates their trash Come to the transfer station. It’s closer See what people are throwing away. You’ll be surprised Because there is value in the things that we are generating. The things that we consider to be trash are valuable There’s things that can be done
with them, resources that can be used And secondly, we live on a finite planet. There’s only so much stuff that we can generate and then turn into trash We throw away too much away in our society and whether it’s scrap metal, cardboard, paper,
food waste, plastic All that stuff has a better use and it really makes no sense to landfill it when you can recycle it You know, a pollution is a resource out
of place and it’s back to Barry Commoner and so, if something’s going into landfill
..you..know..it’s..you’re kind of giving up on it As though you’re taking trees from the forest and you are harvesting them and then depositing them in landfill You’re taking barrels of oil from the oil fields and you’re
depositing those in landfill You’re taking money from the communities, opportunities for jobs so on and depositing and throwing all that out Arguably in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max universe we’re going to be mining those landfills for the resources, so you could say “wow, that’s actually the world’s slowest materials recovery facility.” Put it in a dirt pile, send it into the future. Some
of the organics decay, not many Some of the organics decay, then we unbury it. whoo~smells bad~~ And we go back in for the metals and the glass and the plastics that we can no longe mine from the earth cuz we already got’em all So all those things that we’ve thrown away for all these decades and landfill may become very valuable And what a shame it is, in my opinion to spend the resources of both um..the human resources and the financial resources to fight over things like oil Turn around make a plastic component, then use it for 2 minutes or less and throw in landfill forever What a waste. We..w..we just gotta change the way we do things We need to look at actually the whole stream of everything, kind of in terms of its whole life assessment How much impact is there in the mining of the material? How much impact is there in the manufacturing of the product? How is..how far does that have product to be transferred in terms of transportation and energy costs? And then how does it get installed and how toxic it is and all these kinds of issues And then at the end of that products life, what happens to it? Taking a hard look at that and then asking the question “Do I want to participate in this? Do I want to add to this?” I think most people would say “no” I think if they really knew what went into manufacturing and went into disposal, that..hey would make an educated decision And I think most of what we generate, we generate because we’ve been told that it’s okay to waste And I think it’s time to tell a new story Zero waste is a perfect universe in which everything is described as either being in the technical cycle. So its
minerals, rocks, electronics, those kinds of things Or it’s in the biological cycle, food, vegetation, those kinds of things which degrade over time very quickly Zero waste is the universe in which everything that falls into one of those two categories and darn near everything does It’s always in the loop such that you don’t have things falling out into waste falling out into a landfill for somebody else to deal with later If you look back at the kind of waste that Americans had in the 1900s..in the early 1900s Everthing was reused, every..even clothing, you would get down to the threads and then that the rag person would come and actually weave those into rope and other things All food was composted if there was any food waste and all the packaging was reused and reused until it was then made into something else So, we had virtually no waste..um..you know..a hundred years ago and everything was reused and you..just..it was..people didn’t have the money to just let things be disposable Zero-waste is really reframing the idea of valuing everything that we use and assuming that value moves forward and then it
shouldn’t end up in a landfill I kind of see the sort of three main avenues of that They’re sort of the idea of, on the production side, are we creating producible materials that are more sustainable and sort of reduce their impact on the environment On the consumption side, are we reducing our consumption to basically just what we necessarily need And then, sort of lastly, the waste side of it, you know increasing our use of composting and recycling rather than just throwing it away and putting it in a landfill You know when you talk about zero waste, you’re really talking about a system from extraction to manufacturing to production, packaging, distribution, use, so forth and there’s um.. waste all along the way It’s..it’s sort of like saying “not giving up”. It’s..its like a doctor would say “zero disease” you know..doesn’t mean that we’re going to get there tomorrow or in 10 years But um..from a doctor’s point of view, no disease’s a good disease, you know, we’re not gonna admit to..to having a residual type of disease level same thing with waste, something that we want to work
towards avoiding as much as we can I can easily draw the same conclusions um..and I don’t think that zero disease is possible So, at the same time I don’t really see that zero waste is possible We are a “save-the-world” type of organization, but we’re also very pragmatic and I believe that there..you have to take a
pragmatic approach to reducing waste I personally don’t like the phrase “zero-waste” I just..I just don’t think it aptly describes what the goal is. But I understand that a lot of people like that phrase Zero ~ zero wast, there is no more waste. well~that’s not a reality There’s always gonna to be some fraction of waste coming out of somewhere or is a processing residue So the question is “is ‘zero waste’ a good or bad term?” And we find that it’s a good term to use with the public because they get it immediately you don’t have to start saying recycling, composting. It’s just a simple two word thing that people can immediately grasp and the idea behind it is to do the reduction over time, so it’s not gonna happen overnight Now, some of it can be recycled; some of it can be reused some of it, we really have to think very carefully to see whether there’s an opportunity for doing something better with it but simply throwing it away, that’s not good enough That’s again a philosophy. But i think just reducing waste in general and in many cases because that will provide a cost
incentive that businesses are starting to do it I think it’s building I’ve told a lot of people this I think they’ll be more change in this industry that we’re in in the 5 five years than there’s been in the last 40 I think people looked at Seattle as an
example of what is possible for that the.. utili..you know the partnerships for the utilities and the private businesses you know the sort of policies and incentives that are in place to make it a more economically, you know, attractive thing for businesses to do and the services that are available and we have some very innovative haulers and collection services here for people and there’s lots of opportunity to recycle a lot of different materials Humans are very creative and somebody will figure out how to make money taking even the least likely candidate for reuse and turning it into something fabulous you know, quite honestly, we should
probably be called “material management” I mean, we’re really as a company
transforming to a new way of looking at it We’re actively building out recycling facilities, investing in new technologies that will make it easier for people to recycle material and then what can’t be recycled and becomes waste, we’re also finding ways to try and extract value out of that waste by maybe turning it into things like renewable energy for one is the fact that we’re using
landfill gas and converting it to electricity and we sell about 8.6 megawatts of electricity back to the city of Seattle The newest technology is a joint-venture and a new company called S4 and that is really plasma gasification and what that does is it creates a syngas which is a basic building block for many recyclable and renewable energy products It can be used to make things like fuels, chemicals, methane, compressed natural gas There’s many things that can be generated from that syngas The by-product of plasma gasification is it produces
a glass base material which looks like a black glass that really encapsulates the materials that are not effectively turned into syngas and so you basically get this inert type material and we’re looking at potentially using that for road base or different things that can be reused or, if we have to, potentially landfill it
because it’s a small fraction of what went in initially that comes out as this residual inert type glass material Contamination is still a major challenge in this business and some of the technology we’re working on, like plasma gasification, doesn’t really care about contamination but that’s not going to be the end-all solution for everybody Clearly that’s kind of an end-use product. Once recycling’s taken place, gasification might occur but I think farther upstream, it’s still contamination and people just..I think..don’t realize how their small actions at their home or at their business can really affect it on the back end We’ve diverted over 4 million tonnes since the company started and we’ve made approximately 3 million cubic yards of products we’ve sold Well the food waste volume is..is about 70..
75 thousand times a year that we’re currently taking in There is a lot more food that’s continuing to go to the landfill and that’s why most of the municipalities are focusing on the food volume If you think of an old wagon wheel, like the cowboy days you know you have a big hub and then you have spokes. The
hub is gonna to be the compost plant because whatever anything else does, you
need it to make a product with the residuals okay Now one spoke could be anaerobic digestion which we’ve been looking at now for about 8 years, I think Jerry’s been to Germany 15 times Another spoke would be maybe a biomass
to electricity project Another spoke might be a gasification process for some
of the biomass so they’ll be..and those technologies will fill the wheel, but you still need that hub You can kind of look at it as kind of like a nutrient cycle, where the nutrients are captured back..put back into the soil and those soils and grow more crops that we then
eat ending up back into our feedstocks actually Realizing the level of investment that it takes to try to do it right and provide the environmental assurances that are needed and I think that’s probably the biggest thing and then how that relates to costing your..the cost of
the service and also the sale of the recyclables Cuz its..it’s a pretty horrendous effort..financial effort
to be able to do it especially in a large-scale Our guesstimates are that there could be anywhere from
10 to 13 million gallons of used cooking oil in the state of Washington alone a.. a year? a year..yeah..yeah and um..but we don’t know that for sure there’s..there’s so many ways to try to figure out where is this oil being used That net opens up much larger when you start to think about who is producing food products for consumers um..it’s..could be corporations, corporate, campuses, shopping centers, airports, property managers, hospitals, universities and we provide them a solution not only to physically remove it but to transform it into something much greater than just a landfill waste or an export product to a foreign nation It starts from our..our drivers. They go out to the restaurants and the alleys and back of the restaurants. They vacuum out the..the waste spent cooking grease They..they drive it back to our plant and we filter
it and we put it through some center fuses to take out water and take out
solids and food and particulates clean it up, we add methanol and a catalyst and it separates oil and glycerin what you have then is biodiesel and glycerin And biodi..and glycerin is a by-product and that methyl ester is a biodiesel ready for your engine The clients we serve, we’re taking a waste stream from their business and transforming it into jobs and taxes and low..low carbon fuel I don’t look at it as a difficulty. I look at it as a great opportunity and a huge model that students, faculty and staff are engaged in So this is an opportunity to have this living, learning environment on campus where everyone on a daily basis can be engaged as environmental stewards The three rules are: convenience, convenience and convenience and you’ll actually get people to recycle and compost more So we even worked in some places to try and create better infrastructure where we always have for all three of those opportunities, recycling, compost and..and hopefully a small amount of waste Part of what we’ve learned over the years and what we’ve tried to do is..is standardized the look and the messaging as best as we can So we have one type of container that goes in conference rooms We have another standardized set of containers
that go in lecture halls and classrooms We have a standard set that look and fill and color that goes in public area and places The MiniMax it’s a garbage can that is a large for the recycling and tiny for the waste Facility Services has become a leader in the use of MiniMax and other universities are copying it And the wall street journal actually featured it in addition, which is pretty cool And I think it was University of Texas, or one of the
major universities in Texas actually profiled that which was kind of exciting and they credited the unviversity There’s a 20-percent rule that you have to work with So you have 20% of people are going to completely ignore everything you do and despite whatever effort you may..you can grab them by the lapels and..and..you know..yell in their face “This is what you need to do” and they’re not going to do it And you have 20% of your population that believes fervently in the cause is so..so interested in the issue and so wrapped up in it that they’re going to participate in everything that you offer them And then you have your majority 60% of folks in the middle who you have to engage and you have to remind And many folks need to hear things
or see things in a variety of ways and they say “and I can’t remember the exact statistics” But people need to see something or hear something like 6 times before they really get it If you don’t make it..like simple or convenient enough for
them, they won’t do it and..that’s probably the biggest challenge of the thing I mean..it’s pure..if you don’t.. they don’t care in the first place and they don’t think it’s convenient, they wouldn’t do it so..I guess it changes smaller how we’re gonna spread the message in some kind of way that’s convenient and understandable for people
that will actually follow it We’ve gone a long way in a short amount of time Six years ago we recycled just 12 percent of our waste And while we’re striving for zero-waste, we’re happy that we’re making progress in the right direction We’ve gone from 12 percent to as high as 85 percent and right now for the year we’re averaging about 80 percent rate so our goal is to get to 90 ultimately I think that might be feasible and we’re taking one step at a time And to do that we’re gonna have to sort our garbage And when..you know..80.90% of our waste stream was going to the landfill the thought of sorting that was just too much to bear Now that we’re down to 20% of the waste stream it’s..it’s a little more conceivable to say “hey if we’re gonna push up our recycling rate let’s go get the stuff that’s in the..in the landfill-bound waste and sort it” So sorting plays an integral part and really driving up the rates To try to convey that recycling program to the front of the house, to the guests is a challenge so we’ve..we’ve gone to completely compostable service
where that we serve in our concession stands to try to
accomplish that And we’ve pretty much eliminated the garbage stream for the front of the house So as you walk around Safeco Field, you’ll find about 500
compost containers and only 17 garbage containers We try to pair up a PET plastic container with every compost container to reduce the contamination Um..but we’ve pretty much for the front of house..for the guests defaulted to recycling When the folks come to ballpark and see that we can do it here I hope they realize they can do that at home, they can do it at work, they can influence their school Um..that’s what I really hope they walk away from here seeing that “hey if you can do it in a ballpark, in this big of area, with this many people and all the complexities, Just take something from that and..and ultimately we can do some good things” Well I mentioned previously that we’re both aspirational and pragmatic So..um..that certainly..um..we brought that perspective to bear when we considered recycling And we do recycle in the bathroom for example and in the kitchen..um..but we don’t do it in the laboratory So we..we look at it as a responsibility and part of our responsibility involves recycling and reducing but part of our responsibility involves ensuring Public Health and making sure that we don’t create problems as we try to resolve them but it’s great to know that we don’t have to..like..throw away tons of styrofoam boxes every day because to stay at the temperatures we need, pretty much everything gets shipped in styrofoam Tons of packages every single day and a lot of styrofoam A lot of them will come with one small little item in a big huge box of those peanuts And it’s so nice to be able to just have that recycled, not to worry about it We have a place you know..over against a wall that we just put that I think honestly it’s made life a lot easier to have these resources here as opposed to trying to think about..okay..what are we gonna do Are we gonna fill our own personal garbage receptacles with all the styrofoam? Are we gonna take this huge..you know..printer cartridge and put it somewhere where it could leak everywhere? It’s like, no.. but just goes right there and we don’t have to think about it We both have a passion for food, a passion for health Um..we care about our community We use our food scraps to help local farmers feed their livestock Um..so..it’s amazing what trash can do If it’s meat, he doesn’t want meat to go to the livestock. So we take that home for our dogs If it’s anything that can be composted, that the pigs wouldn’t eat, like eggshells and stuff We put that..we have a composter outside..now we put that all in there We have like a waiting list for the pig buckets of pig food. We have some customers that now want it for their chicken So we have a waiting list. When one person’s done, they want to get it Um..and we have certain people that want compost from us And you know..so the people that do now are eager to jump on and help and be a part of it Almost everything we’ve done has saved us money Um..the..getting the food scraps and the composter..doing all that, we are able to cut down and get a smaller dumpster And that saves..you know..100..150 a month A lot of customers come to us saying “look at our customers are demanding that we show and demonstrate that we’re green. We want you as a sustainability partner, Waste Management, to help us achieve our sustainability goals” And luckily for us, with the contract that we have with the city of Seattle As we have an incentive program that encourages us to work with customers to reduce waste Because the city of seattle knows that over time creating more and more and more waste is actually not the best use of community resources and text dollars And so for us as a hauler, whether we’re hauling garbage or recycling we do have a preference We would rather the majority of that be recycling and be a compost and be items that are not destined for landfill You know..and I encourage small businesses and..and..facilities and corporations and the like to go to them first and partner with their local hauler Because they have a lot of expertise and..what can be
collected..types of signage..types of..of containers And there’s just all these different sectors of businesses that..that have real specific types of issues they are dealing with And we don’t want to pretend that we..we know their business and..and we can tell them what to do But if..if they have a recycling or waste question sometimes we can..we can help them and we can tell them what we think is needed as far as reducing waste So..so we do one-on-one; we work..we work with business associations. We really do a lot of that You can be definitely overwhelming, but I think that is exactly what Resource Venture’s all about is helping people wade through..you know..navigate the choices Um..and it’s a free service to them So you know..we come in and we say “let’s take a look at what you have in place now. Let’s take a look at your garbage bills um..and what can we do to turn that around” Our group goes out and does some free waste status with customers. It’s..it’s fun People think it’s gonna be a little bit weird to start with. But you know..you just say..”we’ll meet you at your dumpster and we’ll just pick out stuff and talk about what could..what you might choose to do with this next time Or..you know..you could use cloth towels instead of paper towels and real cups instead of paper cups” that kind of thing Now we..we..we’ve got a lot of help in this It’s a huge team effort since it involves so many people and to really change behavior for employees and fans It’s not something one person can do by themselves Um..the resource venture came in early and helped us establish our composting program Becca House was our food service people Um..of course Cedar Grove is a huge player, in that all of our food waste and our grass clippings go to Cedar Grove for Commercial Composting Um..the compostable service where it is..isn’t composable in your backyard compost but it is in a commercial composter So we’re lucky that we have Cedar Grove that can can play that part Um..the city of seattle has helped us Um..they..Seattle Public Utilities um..and recently a year and a half ago..two years ago now changed a law so that single-serving items from restaurants had to be recyclable or compostable That helped push the market in that direction And..and..it’s easy for me sitting in..in a government position to say..you know..we need businesses to step up But when we have these open honest dialogues what we often hear is businesses saying “well, we’ve tried to step up and you government has put some barriers in there” And so..you know..we have a responsibility as..as government to also come partway and understand the businesses’ challenges and figure out what it is we need to do Is it..is it a different delivery or pickup system? Is there a different market we need to help create..um..for recyclable materials? Um..and there’s work that we can do there for sure and we’ve..we’ve done some great work in the past And..and it’s going to be those types of partnerships moving forward that we’ll need to do also Zero waste initiatives for businesses start with the Green Team and doing a baseline analysis of all the waste that’s generated on site from that business whether it’s office building, whether it’s a restaurant, whether it is a manufacturing site and taking a look at production..um.. everything that’s
purchased for that site and then everything that’s disposed of What we advocate for is for people to just take small steps We’re not talking about people changing their life over night And I think that’s what sort of freaks some people out like “oh my gosh I’m..I’m..gotta do it..become green automatically and..and overnight” And..and..that’s not really what happens for most people. It happens over time I think a lot of companies look at something like this and think “It’s just too big. It’s just too overwhelming. There’s no difference..that my business
can make a difference” And I can understand that line of thinking Unless you..just..start small and say “okay well let’s just look at our recycle bins at the other end of every day..um..and see what we’re recycling Um..and let’s look at our garbage bins and let’s look at our food compost.” We didn’t even..we didn’t even compost food a few years ago at businesses and now we do Pick one thing where they can have an impact and then look at that the resultsof that one change that they made One..whether it’s a purchasing change, whether it’s starting you know..collection of recyclables on-site Um..any of those things can have a tremendous impact So pick one thing, look at it, gather those numbers, share those numbers and now you’ll get started down that path and you’ll see that there’s..you know..economic reasons to do that and you’ll continue down that road and find other..other ways to become more sustainable And individually sometimes there may be a cost to it..for a starter system There’s usually a start-up cost To educate people, there’s a cost to starting that up You may have false starts; you may not have the system
designed very well. So mistakes are easy to make So there’s a lot of reasons why people are cautious about moving forward But what our experience has been is that once you get people started Then it’s like “why aren’t we doing this all the time?” I think..when we talk about sustainability and doing
things that are green or being sustainable we really want to be at a place where we aren’t using that word anymore We’re just talking about the way we do things Get rid of the trash can under your desk.
Go to a centralized trash can in your office environment so that people understand, when they have to carry their trash down the hall, really why did they generate it in the first place Every single office, every single desk area in fact
there’ll be a couple desks in each office space and everyone has their own recycling receptacle So it’s not like there’s just one for a big room. There’s many many many, which is great Right, I got rid of garbage can in my
office two years ago. I don’t use it at all In fact I don’t actually have garbage
because I’ll take it out to the main area I can’t just..even though the garbage can’s right there, recycling bin’s 10 feet away instead It’s not a big deal..that..do that then After you do it for well, you’re getting a habit of it You know..having paper towel recycling in the bathroom is really nice It’s really..it’s phenomenal to get to work in an environment that is socially and environmentally conscious Even on our hand towels, there’s a “These Come From Trees” stickers And it’s interesting how much buzz
that generates in terms of people saying “oh..now I..” I mean it’s..they see it as both sides. They see it as “Ok now i’m aware” But they also joke about walking out of the bathroom with wet hands because they really hesitate before
pulling that second towel out of the dispenser Um..in Seattle, the tearing of pricing for your disposal of trash is..is higher than if you do recycling or if you do compost We do compost at home and recycle at home so it’s kind of just second nature for me to do..that kind of stuff at work Some people and those don’t really realize “oh we can compost this..like this food container” or paper towels that are dirty, you can put in a compost And..it’s just a matter of putting in the right bin that are next to each other in the garbage We make it pretty easy You know..if you’ve looked at it, and..you know..the people who..who actually do..you know..take their waste and they put it in the recycling and they put in the
trash and put it in the compost and separate it out You know..the time that they spend doing that is not significantly more than the time that other people spend doing it incorrectly So right next to our printer, we have a big recycling receptacle which gets used far more than the trash and people..I’ve seen people actually take a piece of
paper out of the trash and put it in the recycling So that happens a lot In some cases, it’s as simple as having offices start by setting their printers to default to “two-sided printing” and using “print preview” to see what you’re going to print before it “pops out” It would be great if the person who’s in charge of purchasing would really take a look at the “green purchasing” they could do So, for example, are they buying really high recycled content in the paper? Are they using printers who are using less toxic inks for the products that..their..you know..their brochures and that kind of thing? We’ve jumped on recycle which is the last thing in the hierarchy of reduce, reuse, recycle So the recycling is great. But if people..you know..kind of went back to..to square one back to the beginning which is..it’s about reduction, about using less Um..I think that would be a good kind of thing to think about We are so lucky here in the Pacific Northwest We’re full of very creative private recyclers that are fond of recycling and reuse solutions for everything from bicycle inner tubes to styrofoam, things that would normally end up in the landfill In January of last year, we..we..for the first time..styrofoam block..there was an ability in a market to divert that There was never a local processor that would take styrofoam block It’s not heavy, so it’s..it’s not a lot of weight, but it takes up an incredible amount of volume So we piloted it in the Health Sciences Complex where they get a lot of shipments, lab supplies and those such So there was a lot of styrofoam Once we got that up and running and the vendor was picking up regularly weekly from our facility As we collected it and we knew what type of bags worked well for people to put them in there We educated people on..you know..what could go in there..what..what isn’t allowable then we launched it campus-wide We’d like to let people know that that recycling for batteries and for the printers is not just for office stuff If you have a cell phone battery, you can put it in there Things like that trying to make people realize that this is a resource that they can use not just for work related items But if they come in and happen to have a ton of stuff
or receipts that they can use this recycling as well and be sure that they are taking advantage of that resource So sustainability also is about supporting a local economy And you’ll..when you’ll need to work with local vendors and you explain your vision about sustainability You’ll find out that they have their own vision about sustainability, too And by collaborating together you can really help drive sustainability for your region by working with local providers and by supporting the local economy You’ve got to get a team of people to help you because you can’t do it yourself If you’re running a business, you don’t have time to deal with it Small businesses in particular, they’re limited for resources, limited for staff You need basically a network of capacity and willingness And through our service provider, we have that capacity and then..um..through education within IDRI and through working with other organizations in this building we’ve developed a willingness on the part of the individuals to participate And the more that we can partner with various suppliers as well as our utilities as well as our kind of peer businesses We’re all going to be more effective And so I think..it’s working together..I think..it’s making commitment um..as a company setting some goals, writing them down,
making sure everybody knows what they are and then working toward them and making sure that
everybody can participate in a meaningful way toward that and be part of the success We have to be restructuring how we do things but at the same time we have to be cognizant of the business community and what is the real driver in business I’m..I’m an Economist at heart. I’m a finance guy,
numbers guy And the things that drive me to take on challenges oftentimes are..are economic Um..and so when you show me a garbage can that I’m currently using and say..um..but if you could get all your garbage into something half the size You would say.. $15 a month Um..even if $15 isn’t a significant amount of
income for me at the time It’s real and now..and now you’ve..you’ve issued the challenge In this day and age, it’s..it’s not just about..um..the environment, it’s about the economics And we spent a lot of time over the last few years making sure that our system is efficient and is viab..economically viable So when I talk to the campus community, I can go out and..and tell them that it’s..it’s not only the right thing to do for the environment and the planet and our university but it’s the right thing for your pocketbook because it is cheaper for the campus and we do have large amounts of avoidable cost because of the things that we do And I think in general everyone wants to do the right thing um..but clearly there’s a cost barrier to some degree And by being more efficient to me equals less cost And so it’s not just waste in the sense of garbage, its waste in the sense of process waste And so when you come in and look at your
business to take a step back Maybe there’s ways that you can reduce
the actual garbage you put But maybe on.. in the same process you can figure
out ways to just be more efficient and therefore save money Look at improving efficiencies and it’s
not just about alternate products or supplies It’s about eliminating excess um..and..you
know..looking at that consumption part of the equation I would say that it’s essentially been cost-neutral that we’ve taken our resources, we’ve used them more wisely and we’ve ensured that they’ve had the greatest impact possible and that involves developing new technology for the developing world, vaccines, diagnostics, and new drugs But it also ensures that we reduce our waste in a way where we don’t have an impact on the same developing world that frequently receives the developed world’s wastes Solid waste disposal costs are not a huge part of the cost for most businesses for some they are..um..but for most they’re not But they actually are able to help foster an environmental ethic in their employees which every evidence that we have demonstrates that improves people’s morale, it makes people more cooperative,more ready to work and it provides you with the marketing and ability to market to the public as a company that really cares about the environment And you know a lot of times, we talk about the Economics in this very small sense of how many dollars and cents you’re going to save but the fact is: the productivity of your employees and the ability of your company to move in the market successfully and they have a good povitive popular image is actually a much more important economic benefit You know..it’s all about environmental benefit, brand value and your customers and saving money, right? So if you can do something and it speaks to your customers adds to your brand value, has real true environmental impact why wouldn’t you do it? I’ve never had a businessperson tell me “that doesn’t make any sense to me” Everybody says “wow! that’s a real..that totally makes sense!!” Whether or not they step forward and invest is another thing but never anybody tell me that doesn’t make sense I think we live in a part of the country that places a high value on this Um..and our awareness levels are much higher up here than it is in other parts of the nation Um..so I think that it has become..it has moved from an esoteric unusual thing to a thing that brands really do want to attach themselves to Um..when we first approached Amazon over a year ago Um..they practically cut the meeting off at the midway point and said “we get it, we love it! let’s do it!” They said “we don’t need to hear more” Um..and we collect all the used cooking all from Amazon..um..which has only gone up significantly since they moved their campus down to South Lake Union And it’s a brand value to them They..they are..it’s very important to them as part of their larger Enterprise to minimize the impact..the environmental impact of their business And that reaches..that..that gets to consumers, for..from
a corporate standpoint like that or from a restaurant Um..restaurants in the Seattle area that..um..The Space Needle, Sea-Tac airport These are all places are like “hey if we can do the right thing..um..why wouldn’t we?” And it makes us very proud because we do believe that we’re doing good work in this area Um..but I also think it continues to be an incentive um..you know..It’s better to be..get an A or better to
be number one Um..being in the top 15, that’s great. But let’s try for more you know..we’re never going to be perfect and so it’s..it continues to be a catalyst Um..the other is it’s really good marketing. There’s no question that students in particular are looking for a place to go to school that is green but also for faculty and staff recruitment and retention, many many faculty staff also believe that it’s appropriate to be green We want to be the best children’s hospital in the country And the question that I had to our COO is “when do we know we’re the best children’s hospital?” Um..because it’s not..it’s not a point where you’re just completely reached a state of complacency that you’re the best children’s hospital out there in the nation You have to say to yourself “well..you know we’re always striving to be the best” And so “striving to be the best” means that we are looking at our process and say that they’re not perfect Um..but we’re developing goals and strategies to say that we’re trying to line the best processes going forward And the lesson for me is..and I think it’s pretty universal..is that if you really do reduce waste, in fact you will save
money And many times, that which is environmentally beneficial is also efficient and will result in money savings, cost-savings, stronger financial statement It’s time to retool. It’s time for everybody to retool There’s never been a better time This economic crisis should be an economic opportunity I was a plunderer of the earth My business of which I was so proud was a plunderer of the earth Part of the system that had to change and I resolved to do what I could in the time I have left to change that English Subtitle: Nick ● the Freelander

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Now that's a challenge to us all, I'm up for attempting the zero waste lifestyle.. Seriously going to take a long hard look at my habits. CHeers for posting, really interesting.

  2. The threat of higher costs never stopped people from ruining the earth. When we're forced to see exactly what the impact is on our health and the health of our world, then we might change. Open your eyes and hearts everyone, we can find better ways. Quit making more, use what we have and be grateful for your very breath that will be easier now that there won't be industrial areas belting out toxic fumes into our air. Plant trees, gardens and reconnect to our Mother! Why wait?

  3. Plastic is without a doubt the biggest scam that we as a public has ever been lead to believe in. For the good it might do the harm it causes our wildlife and planet is dumb.We can do so much if we look back in our history compared to what we are willing to do today.

  4. You've probably already heard of it, as it is very popular on places like reddit.com, but I was wondering if you know about liquid thorium energy? You might be interested because of its very high efficiency and recycling capabilities. What little waste is produced is more valuable than the electricity it produces.

  5. There's only so much we as individuals can do with recycling. With human's modern understanding of chemistry, I'm sure there's a better compound they can make things out of other than traditional plastic. But I'm also sure, like most things in this country, greed is more powerful than logic. Every other thing we use is inefficient and obsolete, but remains due to big-money interests.

  6. Cities def need to add an organic bin next to the recycling and trash and to cut back on expenses there could be station that puree(chop into a slurry) and send it thru the sewer to be processed at the treatment plant with human waste(also full of energy) and then either turning it into fuel or fertilizer or both.

    I was wonder for disposing nuclear waste(tho I read it to can be recycle) why can we sink it to the bottom of the sea to a point where the crust is moving deeper toward the mantle(not at all like throwing it into a volcano) so the nuclear waste will become part of the earth again?

  7. This is why I will be producing my own food, as well as many other household products….no packaging to throw away, no cans…my bottles will all be reused. 

  8. The root of the problem is advertising. If they didn't spend so much money on advertising and just made better more sustainable products. Could solve alot.
    Honestly do top of the line products do much advertising?   NO  people buy them because they want the best.  Advertising is equivalent to lieing and duping people into buying a throw away product.

  9. We can suggest that some "trash" can be useful for concrete as additive or filler material, with the idea of repurposing post consumer plastics, paper cores from factories and IIW such as fly ash and pond ash: http://kalmatron.com/K100ASH.html

    Thank you,

    Dilip Shah
    NRD Industries. USA
    Whats App & Viber : 0018483911248 – Free calls Worldwide
    E-mail: [email protected], [email protected]
    Skype ID: dilipshah26
    Helen A. Rusinoff
    Kalmatron Corporation
    276 Michelle Court
    South San Francisco, CA 94080
    +1 (415) 385-3290
    [email protected]
    Skype: hrusinoff
    Visit us at www.kalmatron.com! Product samples, test data and brochures are available upon request.

  10. Propaganda? Why do so many councils and districts not pass local ordinances, requiring things like biodegradable packaging, or 'packaging return to sender' (returned to manufacturers warehouse in major city whence it came, for things like white goods packaging etc.). The annual or biannual kerbside 'oversize' garbage collection could be reinstated where phased out, but leave that junk on the kerb for a week so scavenging can take place. Or set up a local 'second life' yard and warehouse, where certain types of trash can be freely dumped, then processed and recycled by the local authority. This would include old cars, furniture, white-goods, electronics, scrap metals and so on. The primary objective is; do not make the waste or by-product in the first place!

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