Since little is known about recycling even today, and since everyone’s efforts to reduce the amount of material sent to landfills should be recognized, Cascades launched the Wonderful, they recycle! (#wonderfultheyrecycle) movement on social media. This movement aims to
- recognize positive recycling efforts
- demystify recycling and offer tips to make life easier while saving our resources
- answer questions on recovery and recycling, and show how recycled products are reused, and
- promote industrial clients who have implemented measures to increase their percentage of recycled products.
With the movement now in full swing, we would like to give you some examples of businesses that, in our eyes, are champions of recycling. Beaulieu Canada is one such business. Why Beaulieu Canada? Because it meets the following criteria:
- Implemented a corporate program directly related to the percentage of recycled materials;
- Implemented strict measures to maintain a high level of recycling;
- Invested in programs for the recovery of not only paper, cardboard and plastic, but also electronic waste, batteries and fluorescent lamps, for example.
I sat down with Suzie Sirois, Environment, Procurement and Project Coordinator for Beaulieu Canada, in Acton Vale. The company has introduced a recycling program that has proven to be highly effective and is really taking off.
How long has Beaulieu Canada had a recovery monitoring program for recycled products?
For over a decade now, but the organizational situation and processes have changed a great deal in the last three years.
What percentage of recyclable products was being recovered before the program was implemented, and what is the percentage now?
Currently, we generate 1,719 tons of waste per year. Of this amount
– 1,140 tons of waste are sent for recycling (paper, cardboard, plastic), and these materials generate revenue for us
– 450 tons of carpet remnants are sent to a waste-to-energy plant—supplying electricity to 92 homes per year—a process we pay for, and
– 129 tons of waste end up in a landfill.
In all, 92% of our materials are currently recycled. Unfortunately, we don’t have any pre‑program figures.
What were the main challenges in implementing the program?
– Incorporating the compacting and handling of recoverable and recyclable materials into our processes.
– Properly sorting materials at workstations in the plant and in our offices.
– Getting employees to pay attention to what they throw out; given the company’s size, this is a bit more difficult to manage.
What measures are currently in place? Specific equipment? Repositioning of collection sites? Others?
We developed a business relationship with Cascades to optimize the selling of our waste, collaborating with a single partner for the recovery of our plastic, paper and cardboard. We are cutting back on handling, and optimizing floor space, transportation and revenues. We have two compactors, one for plastic and one for cardboard.
Our recycling bins have been altered to make it easier to handle and compact the materials.
What training measures have you taken to incite employees to get actively involved?
– We’ve posted indicators to show how much we are recycling.
– We maintain a steady dialogue with the floor managers to help them get their teams on board.
– We plan to hold awareness-building meetings involving Cascades.
Were the changes difficult to implement?
Yes, mainly because of the sheer size of the company. With such a small Environment team, it is a big challenge making sure the information reaches everyone on staff.
Also, it can be hard to find room for the bins near some workstations where space is limited. We still have work to do, though, because we have noticed that certain recyclable materials are still going the garbage route.
We need to reconsider the placement of the recycling bins. If they are too far, some employees may see it as a waste of time.
Does your company recognize employees’ commitment to recycling in any way?
Not at present, no. However, we do intend to have awareness-building meetings and to educate staff within our departments. We will start a program to acknowledge employee involvement soon.
Any other thoughts?
Industrial ecology is an interesting approach; creating synergies with other businesses could certainly help us further optimize our expenses and profits. Meeting a waste specialist from Cascades is also something to look into. Our goal is to divert as much as possible from landfills and transform our waste into resources.
Our relationship with Cascades is starting to be firmly established and communications on either side have been very constructive and positive in many respects.