Businesses Ramp Up Recycling
According to The Seattle Times, Hilton added recycling bags to its guest rooms at SeaTac airport. Frito Lay installed energy-efficient light bulbs tied into a motion-sensor system to reduce electrical use by 40 percent at its Federal Way warehouse. REI diverted about 85 percent of its waste from the landfill last year.
All three are examples of what businesses are telling King County about how they are reducing their share of more than 200,000 tons of recycling material to the landfill last year.
"It's really something that has to be done," said Werner Schumacher, executive chef for Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center.
So far 75 percent of Hilton's guests use the recycling bags during their stay, Schumacher said. Nearly all of the hotel's food waste is composted, he said, and an increased focus on recycling in the conference center has reduced hauling costs for the hotel by 20 percent.
Sifting through everyday business practices for recycling possibilities forces a business to look closely at what's coming in and going out of it, often leading to innovative ways to save the Earth and some money, said Kirk Myers, corporate social-responsibility manager for REI.
"It's really kind of a North Star ... how we know we're heading in the right direction," Myers said. "But even beyond that, this is a smarter way to do business."
REI is on its way to its goal of generating "zero waste," diverting about 85 percent of waste from the landfill last year, Myers said. And, the retailer encourages employees to bring in batteries and light bulbs from home to recycle.
Frito Lay recycles 81 percent of its waste, said operations manager Ron Sorenson. And over the last four years it has reduced electrical use by 40 percent.
The Hilton, REI and Frito Lay were among the 75 companies on King County's 2010 Best Workplaces for Recycling and Waste Reduction list. The county's Solid Waste Division created the program four years ago to inspire companies to reduce waste and share recycling and sustainability tips, said project manager Karen May. "Our interest in getting [the program] going was to divert as much as possible from the landfill," May said.
Turns out it wasn't much of a stretch for some to meet the standards, as some corporations set companywide standards and goals for recycling. For example, Frito Lay has its competitive recycling rankings between distribution regions. The Pacific Northwest region, composed of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Utah, ranks second behind the Midwest North region, said Sorenson.
King County doesn't have recycling regulations for businesses, May said. But it seems that being able to save a little and be recognized for it is motivation enough.
"At the end of the day you save some money," Schumacher said. "But recycling isn't about the money part, it's about doing the right thing."
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