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Success Stories - Non-Profits
More and more non-profit organizations are implementing cost saving, environmentally-friendly recycling, composting and waste reduction programs. Here are a few organizations in Cuyahoga County who are leading the way.
- CSA Group
- Jennings Center for Older Adults
- St. Vincent de Paul
CSA Group finds recycling success
CSA Group, whose U.S. headquarters are located on East Pleasant Valley Road in Independence, is an independent, not-for-profit membership association that provides standards development, training and testing and certification services. The facility is approximately 130,000 sq. feet on two floors and employs 170 people in the offices and laboratories.
In summer 2011, the CSA Green Team met with the Business Recycling Specialist at the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District. At first they chose not to conduct the recommended waste audit, so they were provided with information on recycling companies that would best suit their needs. After researching their options, they chose a company and launched their recycling program in October 2011 with a kick-off “lunch and learn” featuring their new recycling company and the county’s business recycling specialist as guest speakers. They decided to focus on recycling cardboard, paper, plastic bottles and containers, and aluminum cans. The recycling of scrap metals, wood pallets, Styrofoam packaging and electronics was handled separately. The program slowly took off. However, it was noticed that even though their recycling was increasing, there was no corresponding decrease in trash service. About nine months after they initially began their recycling program, they decided to ask the county for assistance with a trash audit. Trash bags were collected from each department so they could see what recyclables were being thrown away from each area of the company. They found approximately 42% of the volume was actually food waste, providing them with opportunities for composting in the future, and only 25% was actual trash. They discovered about 19% by weight was still plastic bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard, and paper in the trash, showing them that more recycling education for employees was needed.
The next focus was to target their conference rooms because they were frequently used for meetings and were often catered. The recycling containers in those rooms were for paper and cardboard and did not accommodate the plastic bottles and cans that were often generated at these meetings. With recycling container grant funds from the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District, CSA Group purchased appropriate user-friendly recycling containers for their conference rooms which were also easier for their janitorial team to empty. These containers helped increase both employee and visitor awareness of recycling.
CSA Group has a digital display system throughout the company which helps educate employees and visitors about the recycling program. With these new containers and increased visibility on their recycling efforts, in just a few short months, they collected 10 times more plastic bottles by weight and 4 times more aluminum cans by weight, a dramatic increase! Plus, to align with one of CSA Group’s corporate values of promoting sustainable solutions through contributing to social good, all aluminum cans are now donated to Aluminum Cans for Burned Children (ACBC). The old recycling containers from the conference rooms were repurposed in the newly renovated office space on the second floor. In 2013 a total of 23,726 pounds of paper, cardboard, and plastic containers at CSA Group were diverted from the landfill, a remarkable feat! They also changed waste hauling companies and decreased the amount of trash hauling service by 60%. The savings from this reduction, plus the money received from the recycling of scrap metals, is now used to fund the recycling of their construction and renovation debris, which is averaging a 95% diversion rate. It’s always a bonus to have a recycling program that is self-supporting.
With the assistance of a second grant from the county, CSA Group has recently launched a battery recycling program for alkaline, lithium ion, and rechargeable batteries. They continue to promote their expanding recycling program to employees through newsletters, communications from upper management, the digital display system, and outside speakers.
Recycling Container Grant helps Jennings Center for Older Adults quickly reduce their waste by 33%
Jennings Center for Older Adults is a not-for-profit older adult services organization located in Garfield Heights, Ohio. Over 900 individuals are served annually through both long and short term nursing care, assisted living, adult day care services, rehabilitation, intergenerational child care, and senior housing. The opportunity to apply for a recycling container grant through the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District led Jennings to expand their departmental and individual recycling program for mixed paper, cardboard, aluminum and bi-metal cans, as well as #1 and #2 plastic bottles and containers. After receiving approval for this reimbursement grant, a representative from Jennings Center for Older Adults attended our grant training session to learn how to implement a successful recycling program.
Jennings first established a recycling program steering committee which included members of all the major departments. Sometimes people call these “Green Teams”. They set goals to achieve 100% departmental participation and 80% individual participation in the program. Jennings wishes to reduce its output of waste by 50%, and this will be measured by a decrease in the number of pick-ups required for trash. They organized a program to strategically place various recycling containers throughout the center, making it easy to recycle and more efficient for their maintenance staff. Desk side recycling containers, recycling stickers, 65 gallon recycling totes and dollies, as well as can crushers were purchased with the grant. They decided to use their waste hauler to pick up both their recyclables and trash and negotiated favorable terms on their contract. The committee launched an awareness campaign which included procedural instructions and helpful recycling tips in newsletters. Information about recycling is also located on bulletin boards and near employee gathering areas. Jennings has a separate committee to monitor the volume of their recycling on a routine basis. They will continue to provide education to areas that need improvement in order to meet their goals. In just 4 to 5 months they have reduced their waste output by 33% and are well on their way to reaching their 50% goal! Not only are they saving money on their trash bill, enabling them to benefit financially, but they are also communicating that the program has a community benefit in that it contributes to the stewardship of the environment.
Cudell Improvement, Inc. Reduces Waste By Over 50%
Cudell Improvement, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing services such as real estate development, a weatherization program, industrial retention, youth services, and many others to residents and the business community Cudell and Edgewater. Located on Lorain Avenue, this small 6 person office recycles paper, plastic, glass, aluminum cans, and used ink cartridges. One staff member even takes compostable items from the office home to her compost pile. At the end of each week, a staff member takes all the recyclable items to a local City of Cleveland recycling bin. The organization wanted to increase the amount of items they were recycling. They did not have uniform recycling containers throughout the office, labeling of the containers was not clear to employees, and as a small office space was an issue. As a non-profit, funding for new recycling containers was not available so they applied for and received a Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District Recycling Container Grant. Jeanette Toms, their Special Programs Coordinator attended the grant training to learn how to improve their recycling program.
Cudell Improvement, Inc. chose colorful stackable recycling bins to save space. They carefully and clearly labeled them and strategically placed them near the copy machine. For convenience desk side recycling bins were purchased for all of the employees. In just two months they were able to reduce the amount of office waste produced by over 50%. They cut the amount of trash service in half, saving them money on their trash bill as well. Cudell Improvement, Inc. is not done there. They are looking into taking their plastic bags and plastic wrap to Giant Eagle for recycling. To prevent office waste the organization is looking into ceramic coffee mugs for the office to replace Styrofoam cups and their purchasing procedures to see if they can reduce waste there as well.
St. Vincent de Paul Southwest Food Pantry Turns Recycling Cardboard from an Operating Cost into Revenue
John Litten is the Executive Director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of the Diocese (SVDP) of Cleveland. The Society operates several food pantries in Cuyahoga and Summit County. As a non-profit organization providing food to the needy, SVDP is always concerned with keeping operating costs down.
When John and his volunteers saw their costs rising for the weekly cardboard recycling pick up, they turned to The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District for help. Working with Doreen Schreiber, Business Recycling Specialist, John discovered that as a non-profit they qualified for a free recycling “dumpster” for paper and cardboard from one of several recycling companies in Northeast Ohio. The cardboard recycling contract through SVDP’s waste hauler was coming to an end, so he decided not to renew it. Instead, he called upon another local company which dropped off the outdoor recycling container for free. His recycling stream is mostly cardboard with minor amounts of paper. The new recycling dumpster gets picked up on a regular basis (and sometimes has extra pick-ups), for free. Not only that, there is no long term contract he had to sign, and the food pantry receives revenue generating checks from the recyclable material that is picked up.
This new program was so successful at their Broadview Road location that SVDP had another free recycling dumpster delivered to their Akron, Ohio location! John is currently looking at the other food pantry locations in Cuyahoga County to see if they can also duplicate recycling revenue success there.