America Recycles Day – a program of Keep America Beautiful – is a nationally-recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States. Since its inception, communities across the country have participated in America Recycles Day on and around November 15 to promote environmental citizenship and encourage action.
Recycling in the Workplace
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as much as 45 percent of the 250 million tons of municipal waste generated in 2010 came from commercial and institutional sources. These include businesses, government offices, retail establishments, schools and hospitals. Empowering individuals in the workplace to engage in recycling saves energy, reduces emissions, conserves natural resources and generates jobs.
Rethinking Recycling the Veris Way
Veris uses large amounts of plastics, metals, circuit boards, polystyrene, cardboard, paper and more as part of its manufacturing and business processes. Prior to 2004, a basic program was in place at Veris that recycled paper, cardboard, metal, wire and circuit boards on site, but too much was still going to waste.
At that time, Veris began the process of ISO14001 certification. ISO 14001 is a family of standards designed to minimize the ways in which an organization’s operations negatively affect the environment and help them to comply with applicable laws and environmental requirements.
As part of the certification process, Veris began to look for ways to improve its recycling system and increase participation among employees. The results of these efforts have been impressive: up to 84% of recoverable waste is now recycled or reused at Veris, according to Cathy McNeil, Veris’s Environmental Health and Safety Manager.
A critical outcome of ISO certification at Veris was a change in the way employees and management think about recycling. Recycling has become a way of life at Veris, and all levels of management understand it makes good business sense.
Desk-side recycling boxes, central collection containers, and recycling stations for each team on the manufacturing floor make it easy for everyone to participate. A recycling matrix helps guide employees’ decisions about what to do with various recyclable materials. As a result, Veris now recycles all of the following:
- Scrap wire
- Plastic bottles
- Hard/semi-hard plastics
- Film plastics
- Scrap circuit board material
- Lead clippings
- Solder pieces
- Toner cartridges
- Insta-Pak Drums
- Fluorescent and other light bulbs
- Chemicals including epoxy and potting materials
- Hard drives
Partnerships with community organizations and vendors also help extend Veris’s recycling reach.
The company has set up reuse programs for packing materials with vendors. It also works with the local Metro Master Recyclers “Resourceful Use” program where businesses can swap materials such as reusable office furniture, packing materials and boxes. Employees recycle their bottles and cans to benefit Caring Closet, an organization that works with companies in the community to raise money for students in need at a local high school.
In a related program, Veris now composts vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds and eggshells in its cafeteria.
The money earned by these recycling efforts is used to reward employees for their participation with perks like organic produce boxes, turkeys and pies at Thanksgiving, and more. Employees are also encouraged to take items home that are safe for reuse (workbenches, chairs, carts, etc.).
By implementing a comprehensive recycling philosophy, Veris has been able to increase the recycling rate of almost every recyclable material and make recycling fun for employees at the same time.
We are a company that lives by the moto “Work hard, Play hard”, and that is never more obvious than our commitment to the environment. Hope you enjoyed the little glimpse into the culture that makes Veris who it is. Stay tuned for more Veris, Behind the Scenes.