2019 Stakeholder Panel

In 2019, we continued the tradition of reaching out to our stakeholders by convening a panel group comprised of select subject matter experts closely connected to Covanta from among the following stakeholder groups: academia, clients, customers, community members, investors and business partners.

In cooperation with an independent third party, we conducted a set of interviews and a group panel discussion over the course of two months. We gathered feedback on Covanta’s ongoing sustainability management strategy and corporate disclosures. The expertise and insights shared on Covanta’s material ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) topics through this process confirmed the basis for the disclosures in this report and further supported Covanta’s strategic planning and goal setting looking forward. Panelists also reviewed drafts of this report to further enhance and strengthen Covanta’s approach to disclosure.

2019 Panelists* 

We invited a group of customers, partners, investors, academics, clients, community members, and environmental activists to participate on our stakeholder panel. We are grateful for the insights provided by this diverse and representative panel.

J.K. Evicks

Manager, The Bama Companies, Inc.

Don Pugh

Senior Environmental Engineer, American Airlines

Adrian Barnes

Manager, Green Investment Group

Edward Northam

Head of Europe, Green Investment Group

Michael Jay Walsh, PhD.

Assistant Research Professor, Boston University

Dereth Glance

Executive Director, Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA)


Adrienne Esposito

Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment

*Not a complete list of stakeholder panel participants.

Making Sustainable Changes One Facility at a Time

Sometimes all that’s needed is one really good example in order to generate change throughout an organization. In this case, it is a 75-person team in Davenport, Iowa that caught the attention of company leaders with their efforts to improve their location’s sustainability achievements and reduce waste sent to the landfill. While there are sustainability goals at the corporate level at the 100-year-old Parker Hannifin, a leader in motion and control technologies, it can be challenging to spread the word to 55,000 employees at 336 manufacturing locations around the world. Parker Hannifin found the best solution was to allow each of its locations to have a hand in charting its own course.

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That being said, a hose manufacturing plant for Parker Hannifin’s Hose Products Division wanted to consider additional eco-friendly and feasible options for recycling rubber hose. Hose Products Division’s Davenport facility makes hydraulic assemblies for the industrial and hydraulic markets. The process to create these materials generates a variety of waste materials, which include scrap hose and couplings as well as other rubber and plastic materials associated with the assembly process. These items all need to go somewhere if they can’t be reused or recycled. The majority of these materials were ending up in the scrap yard or a landfill.

We looked at fuel blending and other alternatives and then we found Covanta. With its Energy-from-Waste solutions, Covanta offered us flexibility.

Dennis Lynn, Conservation Team Leader, Parker Hannifin Davenport

“We knew we needed to do more,” said Dennis Lynn, Conservation Team Leader at Parker Hannifin Davenport. “Beyond the desire to not add to the landfill, the scrap yard was having trouble removing the metal wire that reinforces our hose. They basically wouldn’t accept it any longer.” Lynn and the Conservation Team worked diligently to find new options.

Mastering a New Approach

In operation since July 2016, Hose Products Division’s new approach to recycling hydraulic hose has resulted in an ample amount of non-hazardous waste being shipped to Covanta. Over 200,000 pounds of non-hazardous waste has shipped to Covanta’s Energy-from-Waste facility in Indianapolis, Indiana instead of local landfills. Once the waste arrives at the Indiana facility, it is entered into Covanta’s high-temperature combustion process that destroys it at temperatures of 2,000°F, producing clean energy as a byproduct that is then used to feed the steam loop in downtown Indianapolis. The steam is used to heat nearly all downtown businesses, as well as Indiana University, Purdue University’s Indianapolis campus and Eli Lilly, the area’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Once the waste arrives at the Indiana facility, it is entered into Covanta’s high-temperature combustion process that destroys it at temperatures of 2,000°F, producing clean energy as a byproduct that is then used to feed the steam loop in downtown Indianapolis. The steam is used to heat nearly all downtown businesses, as well as Indiana University, Purdue University’s Indianapolis campus and Eli Lilly, the area’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer.

By identifying additional waste streams to include in the material sent to Covanta, including food and other non-manufacturing wastes, the Conservation Team anticipates they will be able to further reduce the amount of waste ordinarily sent to landfills over the next several years.

Besides making an impact on their sustainability goal, another benefit that the Davenport Con-servation Team expects from reducing waste sent to the landfill is facilitating the attainment of ISO 14001 certification for any customers requiring it. ISO’s (International Standards Organization) 14001 certification serves as accreditation of an organization or company’s environmental management program against a pre-established set of qualifiers.

In 2016, we sent 31 tons of waste to the landfill compared to a three-year average of 80 tons – that’s more than a 60 percent reduction.

Dennis Lynn, Conservation Team Leader, Parker Hannifin Davenport

Building Blocks for Success

The achievements at Davenport have been noticed throughout the Parker Hannifin organization. “Earning the 2016 Green Teamwork Award validated this team’s hard work,” acknowledges Lynn. “Out of 55,000 employees, Parker Hannifin’s global leaders recognized the Davenport team as leading the way in green initiatives and our global leadership continues to be a motivator to move the needle even further.”

As a result of the great partnership and experiences at the Davenport facility, additional Parker Hannifin sites are evaluating potential partnerships with Covanta as well.
According to Lynn: “The road to zero waste-to-landfill is no easy task. By working with Covanta, we know that this goal is achievable.” For more information on Parker Hose Products Division products or services, please visit parker.com/HPD

It’s Not Just Dirty Water

Unless you work in the airline industry you probably never thought about what happens to tires on the plane when they have reached their end of life, or even more specifically, cleaning those tires. At American Airlines Wheel & Brake Center (AA W&BC) that’s one of the many things they focus on. The AA W&BC in Tulsa, OK, processes over one million tons of tire rubber or about 25,000-26,000 tires a year. When the tires arrive at the facility, they have been used for a number of cycles and have grease, hydraulic fluid and break dust on them.

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To clean the tires to recover to usable rubber, the tires are run through a machine that resembles a car wash. That process generates waste water –“dirty water” by all accounts.

But what happens to the dirty water? “Before we started working with Covanta, we would have treated the dirty water to remove most of the contaminants, stored it, and then solidified and disposed of the water in the landfill,” said Thelma Latimer-Davis, Manager, Environmental Engineering, American Airlines.

“Our work with Covanta is very important to this city. We’re helping to establish a ‘green’ community.”

Thelma Latimer-Davis, American Airlines Manager, Environmental Engineering

Dirty Water’s Second Life

Today, the waste water from the AA W&BC gets a second life positively impacting a refinery just a short way across town. How did this happen? It started with a company that prides itself on grassroots-style, employee-driven and supported recycling programs. Through employee efforts the facility was recycling more than half of its waste in 2014. “We knew that there was more opportunity,” said Latimer-Davis. “We saw other companies in other industries going to zero waste to landfill and knew that we had to find a way to get there too.”

“It really is about partnership,” added Teresa Sellers, Senior Environmental Engineer, American Airlines. “Recycling is such an important activity but without a good partner or partners and support from employees even the best efforts won’t be successful.”

It’s no secret that the airline industry has had its share of economic troubles over the years. This cost-containment environment factored greatly into the team’s journey to zero landfill. It was important to find a partner that could cost-effectively help achieve their goals.

“The fact that Covanta was located in Tulsa made this happen,” said Latimer-Davis. “By partnering with them for our waste water recycling, we do not incur costs to ship water across state lines – they are less than 10 miles away.”

In March 2014, AA W&BC started to transport its waste water to the Covanta Tulsa facility. The company now sends Covanta 800 tons per year. Once the waste water arrives at the Covanta facility, it is processed through the Liquid Direct Injection process which pumps the waste water through atomizing nozzles directly into the combustion chambers where the contaminants are destroyed and the water is vaporized, thus avoiding landfills and eliminating potential landfill leachate impacts. The steam produced by the Covanta Energy-from -Waste facility is transported through a high-pressure pipeline across the street to a refinery and offsets the refinery’s use of fossil fuel to make industrial steam for its many processes.

“Our Liquid Direct Injection process handles a high volume of liquid waste,” said Jennifer Minney, Southwest Region Sales Manager, Covanta. “The non-hazardous liquid from places such as American Airlines Wheel and Brake Center is injected directly into the 2000°F boiler, destroying any contaminants, and, in this case, providing a much needed solution to another business in
the city.”

“People are talking about what we’ve accomplished but most importantly the conversation about sustainability is continuing. Who knows what other great ideas are out there waiting for someone to bring to life?”

Thelma Latimer-Davis, American Airlines Manager, Environmental Engineering

Recognizing Importance Of Repurposing Water

In 2015, the AA W&BC earned the Henry Bellmon Award for “setting the standards for sustainability in Oklahoma” as a direct recognition for their waste water work. Sustainable Tulsa, the organization that sponsors the Henry Bellmon Awards, focuses on building a culture of sustainability in Tulsa.

“Winning the Henry Bellmon Award, gives us the opportunity to show others in Tulsa what we’ve been able to do,” said Latimer-Davis. “It also demonstrates to the aerospace industry – which there is a lot of here – that zero waste-to-landfill can be achieved even in places where the main activity is maintenance and not manufacturing.” “Our work with Covanta is very important to this city,” Latimer-Davis continued. “We’re helping to establish a ‘green’ community. People are talking about what we’ve accomplished but most importantly the conversation about sustainability is continuing. Who knows what other great ideas are out there waiting for someone to bring to life?”

Here several team members stand around a line casualty bin that Covanta will later pick up, separate and process.


A Change for the Butter

Land O’Lakes, Inc. has been in operation for more than 95 years making everything from butter to milk to food for animals, doing business in all 50 states and in more than 60 countries. What began as a group of farmers coming together in Minnesota and Wisconsin to market and distribute members’ dairy products, grew into an organization with almost 4,000 members including dairy producers, agriculture producers and co-op members, plus more than 10,000 employees. With a mission to preserve and use land more effectively, Land O’Lakes has a distinguished reputation for being a good corporate citizen. But simply being good wasn’t good enough for Land O’Lakes. They wanted to do more.

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This desire to do more was a key motivator for Josh Becking, EH&S Manager at the Land O’ Lakes Dairy Foods plant in Kent, Ohio, who recalls: “When I first joined Land O’Lakes in 2012, with the exception of cardboard, most all other waste from this facility was sent to the landfill.”

The Dairy Foods division is one of the most recognizable divisions of Land O’Lakes, producing cheese and butter in all forms from the pats used in restaurants, the stick or tubs sold in grocery stores and the large blocks used by the food industry.

Becking and his colleagues in Kent made some initial progress by recycling paper and plastics discarded in the facility’s breakrooms. However, to make the meaningful inroads necessary to further reduce waste, they knew they needed a sound and reliable collaborator.

“We first began working with Covanta because they had a solution to our line casualty challenges.”

Josh Becking, EH&S Manager, Land O’ Lakes Dairy Foods

New Processes and Waste Removal Practices

For the past three years, the Kent, Ohio team has worked with Covanta to find ways to address the waste previously sent to landfill. “We first began working with Covanta because they had a solution to our line casualty challenges,” said Becking. “Like with every production line, there are some items that aren’t going to make it to store shelves. But we couldn’t find a place outside of the landfill to take these items because no one could separate the product from the package.” The line casualties are comprised of the plastic for the cup to hold the butter, the foil to cover the butter, and the butter itself which becomes grease as the product melts, making one butter pat potentially three different waste streams.

Undeterred by the multiple hard-to-recycle waste streams associated with one tiny product, Covanta’s solution was for the line casualties to be fed into a shredder for de-packaging. As a result, all of the components are now separated, including the butter and grease. Then the plastic and foil are recycled, and the butter and grease are sent to the anaerobic digester which produces energy (biogas). The biogas provides electricity for the processing facility and heat which is reused as part of the digestion process.

To ensure a simple process for Kent employees, Covanta provides several containers to the team on a weekly basis. The containers are placed strategically throughout the production floor where employees deposit the line casualties for later disposal. To avoid spillage or melting of cold products, the containers are stowed in cold storage until pick up. Each container holds approximately 1,000 pounds.

The Kent facility also generates solids (fats and fat by-products) from its wastewater pre-treatment facility which are picked up twice a week via tanker trucks supplied by Covanta and taken for processing.

“We even have Covanta on speed dial for emergencies,” added Becking. “For example, we send buttermilk to our facility in Pennsylvania. There was an issue at the plant and they were not able to accept our delivery. We called Covanta and those dairy contents were sent to the anaerobic digester, not the landfill.” The Kent team originally sought to divert five-to-seven percent of the facility’s waste from the landfill. “In the past few months we have reduced our waste to landfill by 20 percent,” said Becking.

“There is always more that can be done, but, we’re making progress. Covanta’s been right there with us.”

Hallie Davidson, Talent Acceleration Program Associate, Land O’ Lakes Dairy Foods

Empowering Employees

Change is never easy. Not all of the 167 people in the Kent facility were on board at first with the new waste management initiatives. “We’re asking employees to do extra work to sort and place waste differently,” said Hallie Davidson, Talent Acceleration Program associate.

“Hallie’s full-time job is to ensure that we meet our landfill reductions goals,” said Becking. “She is out on the floor every day asking employees what can be done so that we can get better–better at reaching our goals and also better at how we engage the employees in the waste reduction process. Hallie is the face and voice of the program. She helped create enthusiasm and support for the program.”

In 2017, the Kent facility was recognized by the Land O’Lakes, Inc. corporate team as the overall winner among its U.S. facilities in the pursuit of improved sustainability.

“It was amazing to have corporate recognize us and promote our work to facilities around the globe,” said Becking. “The recognition prompted many calls from other facilities to learn more about how we’ve been able to be successful.”

“There is always more that can be done,” added Davidson. “But, we’re making progress. Covanta’s been right there with us – helping, guiding and delivering on their promises to us.”

Operating at The Center of The Circle

Today, much of the world economy operates in a linear fashion: we extract resources from the earth, manufacture and produce materials, distribute them to customers who use them, and then discard the materials. Different economies have, to varying degrees, been able to return some materials back to the economy through recycling. For example, countries like Germany, Austria and the Netherlands are successfully recycling 60 percent of municipal solid waste (MSW). However, countries like the United States and Canada do far worse. Even when companies in the United States and Canada are successful at recycling, the result is products made out of the recycled materials that are of lower quality, a result called “downcycling.”

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In contrast, a circular economy aims to always keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value, returning them back into the market at the end of their first lifecycle at the highest level possible. Nearly every step of a circular economy requires an energy input and leftover waste can help meet this need.

A significant example of a circular economy in practice today can be found in Niagara Falls, New York and is the direct result of companies colocating with an Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facility. Here, six different companies from a variety of industries are connected to Covanta Niagara, a pioneer in the modern Energy-from-Waste industry that began converting refuse into clean, renewable energy in the 1980s. Through these colocation partnerships, Covanta supplies steam generated through processing up to 2,250 tons of waste per day to the neighboring businesses and takes in nonrecyclable waste in return to add to its feedstock. In many ways, it can be said that several of these businesses benefit from other’s inputs and outputs.

“The reason colocation works for us is that we’re able to secure a predictable price [for exporting steam] that is potentially higher than what we would get for a wholesale energy price on the electrical grid. That is attractive to our investors.”

Dave Burke, manager of export steam sales at Covanta

“From the customer’s perspective, they’re likely going to get a reduced price on their energy and there are the ancillary benefits of being able to send their waste to us and avoid landfills. Also, by providing turnkey steam for our clients, it eliminates the need for them to own and operate a fossil-fueled boiler house, creating a competitive advantage by allowing these organizations to focus on their core business.”

Following the Inputs and Outputs

An example of the colocation and circular process begins in Niagara when bales of waste paper collected from homes and businesses are delivered to Greenpac Mill. Considered the most advanced and largest facility of its kind in North America, Greenpac Mill manufactures a lightweight linerboard made with 100 percent recycled fibers and has an annual production capacity of 540,000 tons. The linerboard is produced with significantly less water and less fiber than similar strength paper, making Greenpac’s product the strongest fully-recycled linerboard in North America. But not every bit of paper sent to Greenpac Mill can be used.

So, what happens to the paper that can’t be used to create the linerboard? It is sent to Covanta Niagara where the output of unusable paper becomes the input for energy recovery.

When the unrecyclable waste from Greenpac Mill arrives at Covanta, it is mixed with other waste and metered onto the state-of-the-art grate system where the combustion process occurs. During the combustion process, water in steel boiler tubes is heated up and converted into high temperature steam (energy recovery) and is sent back into the community as electricity to supply over 15,000 homes a year. Steam generated in the process is sent to the mill via a dedicated line built just for Greenpac Mill, where it is used for drying paper in the manufacturing process. Additionally, the steam is distributed to other companies along the steam loop including Praxair, Goodyear, Niacet and Norampac, for use in their production processes. In this way, unusable paper and other non-paper contamination become the input for energy recovery in the form of steam, which is then used as an input for other processes at the companies in this circular system. And don’t forget the linerboard that Greenpac Mill makes. Local companies such as Diamond Packaging of Rochester, New York use boxes made from the Greenpac linerboard. Diamond Packaging is the only American-owned folding carton manufacturer to achieve zero manufacturing waste-to-landfill status. Some waste materials from Diamond Packaging becomes part of the bales of waste paper sent to Greenpac Mill to begin the process again, and any non-recyclable wastes are sent to Covanta for energy recovery. By moving products via pipe-bridge and short transportation, there is a great improvement in the carbon footprint for these colocated businesses. In fact, by opting for EfW conversion rather than the landfill for its residuals, Greenpac Mill avoids the emission of close to 12,000 tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) just by itself. That’s comparable to removing 2,500 cars from the roads for a year. “You could call us the ‘green anchor’ for this community,” said Kevin O’Neil, Covanta Niagara’s business manager. “Essentially, we are a utility for these businesses and our steam keeps them going so they can employ more than 600 people in good paying manufacturing jobs.”

The Perfect Recipe for a Sustainable Future

You might not know the name The Bama Companies, Inc. (Bama) but you’ve probably eaten one of its biscuits, hand-held pies or pizza dough at leading restaurants across the country. Supplying oven-ready products to customers in over 20 countries utilizing facilities based in the U.S., China and Poland, Bama has grown to become a leading innovator of wholesome bakery products, catering to some of the largest and most well-known restaurant chains in the world.

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From its beginnings in the 1920s, Bama, headquartered in Tulsa, OK, has built a manufacturing organization dedicated to innovation and quality. A key component of this dedication is the vision, drive and commitment from Bama’s Owner/CEO, Paula Marshall – to be engaged as a company in continual improvement and minimizing waste – even before the practices of recycling and reusing materials became established elements of successful sustainability programs. Over time, Bama has been able to repurpose its food waste for animal feed and has evaluated and improved the packaging of its own products and that of its vendors and suppliers.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” said J.K. Evicks, Bama’s Environmental Manager. “But even as we worked with employees and our partners, we still found we had almost five percent of our waste that could not be recycled or reused, making it challenging to reach our goal of zero waste-to-landfill by 2017.”

The Partnership Begins

“We were really pleased to be asked to work with Bama on their journey to zero waste,” said Jennifer Minney, Solutions Sales Manager for Covanta Environmental Solutions. “From visiting their sites we knew that they had a good plan and we made recommendations to help get them over the hump and out of landfills. Our business is waste and it’s our job to find options and deliver long-term sustainable solutions for our customers.” And find options they did. Within eight months of an initial waste audit, Bama started sending its compacted waste to Covanta’s Tulsa Energy-from-Waste facility. Once at Covanta Tulsa, the waste is used as fuel to create electricity and steam used by neighboring Tulsa businesses. “What’s great about working with Covanta is that they value partnerships as much as we do,” said Evicks. “For example, we wanted recycling options for bulk vegetable oil. Although not part of our scope of work with Covanta, they partnered with us to find a sustainable option, furthering our zero waste-to-landfill mission. Covanta listens and provides consultation and ideas.” Thanks to Paula Marshall’s vision, Bama officially achieved zero waste-to-landfill in 2014.

“Having a champion – a leader that is driving the recycling/sustainability initiative – is one of the first things I would tell other businesses to do if they are looking to get to zero landfill. But you also need to know what waste you have. You need to get in there and ‘dumpster dive’ to get a full picture of the opportunities as you engage employees and get them excited about making significant changes.”

J.K. Evicks, Bama Companies, Environmental Manager

Generating Excitement and Support Among Employees

Reflecting on their zero waste journey, Terral Eichelberger, Bama’s Shipping and Receiving Manager, explained, “Identifying the waste and what to do it with it was painful at times. However, the experience made us aware of the impact waste had on our community and the environment. It took some time but eventually we understood it was the right thing to do.” Eichelberger credits Evicks for explaining the value of recycling and keeping it top-of-mind with employees throughout the journey. “He often spoke to us about reuse and that became a very important aspect of the program for employees. Many on the team began to look not just at what we did, but what our vendors and suppliers were sending and made suggestions to those businesses about how they could improve.” Evicks agrees that one of the secrets to Bama’s success is continual reinforcement of the purpose and benefits of such a sustainability program.

The hard work to generate support internally did not go unnoticed by customers or the community. In fact, Bama received several awards and recognition for their efforts including the Environmental Federation of Oklahoma’s Frank Condon Award in 2013. “We’ve been recognized for what we’ve been able to accomplish and that’s important for the teams and the community but the real value is in being able to share our best practices and help others on the sustainability journey,” said Evicks.

Manufacturer Creates Tiny Parts, but Drives Big Environmental Impact

Nestled in the city of Rolla, Missouri – population of just over 20,000– is a global technology leader in developing and manufacturing innovative materials and processes used for the reliable fabrication of cutting-edge microdevices used in tablet computers, smartphones, digital cameras, and televisions. From cell phones to tablets to televisions, Brewer Science’s anti-reflective coatings revolutionized microelectronics manufacturing and ushered in today’s high-speed, lightweight electronic devices that are now so often taken for granted. Beyond driving innovation in the microprocessor industry, the company is leading the way in sustainability for the industry and for its local neighborhood.

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The Mission: Run an Environmentally Responsible Organization

As early adopters of sustainability and environmental responsibility, Brewer Science leaders made finding ways to better the environment a priority for the business. The company recently published an e-book about its efforts titled: “Moving Forward: A Story of Sustainable Manufacturing” which highlighted some early achievements including: converting 520,000 pounds of hazardous waste into fuel that could replace natural gas and coal; gathering more than 597 tons of waste for recycling through its mini-bin program; and collecting 811,000 pounds of appliances, electronics and tires through a community program – all of which would have gone to the landfill!

“Since we began our efforts almost 20 years ago, we’ve done a lot of work with each part of the facility (manufacturing, shipping and the workshops) to identify waste streams and educate our employees about why this (recycling/reuse) is the right thing to do,” said Rory McCarthy, Environmental Manager, Brewer Science. “We even had employees involved in ‘dumpster diving’ to assess what materials could be used outside of a landfill.” Camron Stover, Environmental Engineer, Brewer Science, added: “As part of our culture, new employees are engaged on sustainability and our way of working right from the new hire orientation. It’s not a matter of a few executives pushing through a pet project, but rather, the desire to be an ecofriendly company has been a truly grassroots effort. It is the committed employees who have made sustainability and environmental stewardship part of the Brewer Science brand.”

The team wanted to take the next step and reach a key sustainability goal of getting to zero waste-to-landfill and to be certified by a third-party for achieving this milestone. However, the challenge was effectively handling and managing the waste that couldn’t be recycled, reused or repurposed. Approximately, 7% of the waste (such as cafeteria and bathroom waste, as well as floor sweepings) was keeping the company from achieving its goal of zero waste-to-landfill.

Persistence Leads to the Right Partner & Solution

In 2013, Brewer Science and Covanta began discussions about how a service partnership would enhance Brewer Science’s sustainability initiatives and help reach its zero waste-to-landfill goal. “It took almost two years to get the relationship going,” said McCarthy. “We did several visits to Covanta sites to see their functionality, check compliance and to ensure that we had the right partner who shared our overall goals and vision for the environment.”
But persistence paid off and in 2015 the discussions resulted in the transition and implementation of a sustainable waste solution. The new partnership included the installation and operation of new equipment for the bulk accumulation and transport of compacted materials to Covanta’s Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

One piece of new equipment was a large compactor. The compactor was selected to facilitate the in-plant collection and accumulation of non-recyclable materials as well as to optimize load weights of outbound shipments to Covanta. Its large size enabled Brewer Science to reduce the number of hauling requirements. And no one can miss the large signs/banners that remind employees of the power of zero waste-to-landfill.

“The compactor was an important step because it gave us a place to put the waste we couldn’t recycle or reuse,” said McCarthy. “It served as a visual reminder of what we were doing to get to zero waste-to-landfill and it got our employees even more involved since ‘feeding’ the compactor properly became a slogan to educate employees about what should and shouldn’t be placed in the compactor.”

Since its installation, the compactor is picked up every four months by a third-party hauler contracted by Covanta. When the compactor, filled with non-recyclable waste items, arrives at the Tulsa plant, it is mixed with municipal solid waste and metered onto the state-of-the-art grate system where the combustion process occurs. During the combustion process, water in steel boiler tubes is heated up and converted into high temperature steam. The steam is then used to power a turbine generator that produces clean, renewable energy that is sold to Public Service Company of Oklahoma for use in the surrounding communities. “Before the compactor, all of this waste was going to the landfill,” said Stover.

With a viable landfill diversion strategy that has sent approximately 77 tons of non-hazardous waste to Covanta Tulsa over the past two years, Brewer Science achieved a companywide goal. This milestone was independently verified by GreenCircle Certified, LLC, a third-party certifier of environmental and sustainability claims. After its completion of extensive audits to verify Brewer Science’s sustainability achievements in contributing zero waste-to-landfill, GreenCircle certified the company for both 2016 and 2017. Brewer Science is the only business in the microelectronics and semiconductor industry to earn this recognition.

As noted in Brewer Science’s e-book: “This certification is more than a major milestone or a point of pride. In many ways, it represents years of effort and dedication from people at all levels of the company, united and forming a collective mindset to reduce waste and remain stewards of the environment.”

Sustainability That Plays

While achieving zero waste-to-landfill certification wasn’t easy, it’s also not a one-shot deal. “While we celebrated our success and thanked all of our employees for getting us to certification – twice – we can’t sit still,” said McCarthy.

“Continually driving sustainability is part of the Brewer Science DNA and as our customers are getting increasingly more savvy they expect more from us,” he adds. “We take it seriously – not only by finding new ways to improve our efforts within the facility, but we also participate in Adopt-a-Highway programs and collaborate with other companies and the city to bring environmental programs to the forefront in the Rolla community.”

Reflecting on the journey that brought them to being the only zero waste-to-landfill certified company in the semiconductor / microprocessor industry, McCarthy credits founder Dr. Terry Brewer who saw the immediate return on investment for the environment, despite the incremental costs incurred by sustainability programs.

“We believe that protecting our environment and conserving resources are essential to running a successful, mindful business,” said McCarthy. “The key to success is having leaders who understand that there are other forms of measurement outside of the accounting numbers. We’re doing this today for the people of tomorrow.”

When you open Born Green, an environmental overview from Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. (SIA), the first thing you read is: “Being an environmental steward means you are always thinking about the future. This forward‐thinking has helped SIA achieve many firsts in our industry.”

One significant first for SIA was to earn the title of the first automotive assembly plant in the U.S. to achieve zero landfill status, with some assistance from Covanta, a world‐leading provider of renewable waste and energy solutions.

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That was in 2004, two years ahead of its parent‐company‐driven schedule.

And the company continues to maintain this mindset today, according to Born Green, “ensuring that vehicles are green from the moment they are ‘born.’ Every Subaru built at SIA is built with environmental stewardship as a guiding principle.” The manufacturer of Subaru Outback and Legacy vehicles is often referred to as a pioneer in adopting the holistic reduce, reuse, recycle, recover (the four “Rs”) mantra of the waste management strategy. Commenting on this well‐deserved reputation, Michelle Long, Assistant Manager of Subaru’s Environmental Compliance & Energy Section, said: “We were given the tools to pursue zero landfill before others and we invested in it. Today, we’ve had thousands of companies visit the site to see what we do, so yes, you can say we’re living up to the ‘pioneer’ title.”

But how did this 3.5 million square foot car manufacturing plant working with huge coils of steel, and literally thousands of tons of metal, glass, electronic components, and all the associated packaging, achieve zero landfill?

“There are five-to-10 large industrial businesses in the area but we stand out to people looking for work because we’re committed to preserving the environment. Associates like working here – they’re proud of it.”

Michelle Long, Subaru Assistant Manager Environmental Compliance & Energy Section

Getting Dirty and Creative

The journey began back in 2002 with a group of dedicated, enthusiastic associates who seized the corporate directive to reduce waste and get to zero landfill. The first order of business was a series of carefully orchestrated “dumpster dives” to examine in minute detail what was being thrown away. Accomplishing this entailed spreading the plant’s trash out within a controlled area to analyze the content and understand its origin and contribution to the car manufacturing process. This very visual display of its waste stream enabled SIA to evaluate opportunities to reduce consumption, eliminate unnecessary packaging, utilize reusable containers, and develop new markets for recycling of by‐products through innovative and efficiency‐oriented techniques.

This same spirit of passion and enthusiasm in meeting challenges head on continues today. SIA’s nearly 4,500 associates continue to play a vital role in sustainability. “All associates – whether they work in HR, Legal or the plant ‐‐ are given environmental goals or challenges,” said Long. “The spirit of Kaizen – or continuous improvement – is alive and well within our walls. Associates are encouraged to think about ways to do things differently. And they are rewarded for their creativity and dedication to sustainability. Prizes help keep the ideas coming!”

Partnering for the Long Haul

Getting to zero landfill also meant enlisting Covanta as a strategic partner.

“We began working with SIA in 2004,” said Dave Schroeder, Director of National Accounts for Covanta Environmental Solutions. “Together we developed best practices in sustainable waste management and provided the plant with a local Energy‐from‐Waste (EfW) disposal solution.” There are 215 pounds of waste generated per vehicle at SIA’s plant. Approximately 185 pounds are recyclable steel. For the non‐hazardous waste left over after efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle are exhausted, SIA ships approximately four percent of the total waste, or 3,000 tons, to Covanta for disposal and energy and metal recovery each year. From 2000 to 2015, SIA reduced the amount of waste per vehicle produced by 53 percent and cut costs to the tune of millions of dollars each year through adoption of the four “Rs.”

“At our Indianapolis Resource Recovery Facility, SIA’s non‐hazardous waste is diverted from the landfill and used as fuel to create steam power for Indianapolis’ downtown heating loop,” said Schroeder.

Long added: “Leveraging Covanta’s EfW facilities benefits the local community and advances our sustainability and zero landfill initiatives. We’ve also seen value within our business from our partnership with Covanta – increased product quality, efficiency of the line and cost reductions are just a few examples.”

The benefits also extend to reputation and factor into recruitment. “Our zero landfill status provides a positive image for SIA in the Lafayette area,” said Long.

Lasting Legacy

As champions of sustainability and zero landfill, SIA encourages companies from other industries to visit and study their processes. The company also started the Zero Landfill Pledge to encourage others to join the effort.

When asked to provide guidance to companies interested in launching their own successful zero landfill programs, Long said, “There are three major steps to consider: One, create an inventory of waste, understanding where it is generated and what happens to it. Two, make the program your own, customizing it to what works within your culture. And three, get associate/employee input – some of the best ideas come from the workforce. It’s also important to celebrate your successes, both large and small. It will help motivate you for each new step along the way.”

Designing A Solution For Zero Waste-To-Landfill

Imagine that you are a competitive long-distance runner. You know that the finish line is just over this last hill. As you tighten your muscles drawing the last power you have to make it up the hill, the exhaustion hits you and you are suddenly unsure if you will actually make it to the end. But you do! That’s where J+J Flooring Group, a leading manufacturer of commercial specified flooring, was just two short years ago. Not on the last leg of an actual marathon, but facing the last major hurdle in its efforts to reduce the company’s reliance on sending waste to landfills.

“We needed to complete the cycle and we knew that something could be done with this last bit of material. We believed that it was better to get energy from it than bury it in a landfill.”

Russ Delozier, J+J Flooring Group Director of Sustainability

Making Something From Nothing

J+J Flooring Group was founded almost six decades ago by Tom Jones and Rollins Jolly who realized there were advantages by going into business together. The company focused on putting its people first, producing products with pride, providing value to customers and making a difference in the community – a set of values and a mission it continues to uphold today.

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A milestone for the company came in the early 1990s when it created the “Green Team” comprised of employees focused on sustainable processes. Over the next 24 years, through effective reuse, recycling and repurposing methods, the company systematically addressed areas within its plants and office space to reduce their impact on the environment and significantly decreased the amount of waste the company directly sent to local landfills.

Despite all of these efforts, the team found that there was still some waste that was going to the landfill.

“That’s when we made a conscious decision to find a way to get to zero waste-to-landfill,” said Russ Delozier, Director of Sustainability, J+J Flooring Group.

New Partner With A Solution

Delozier and his team researched possible solutions and partners to get J+J to landfill-free.

“When I visited their plant in Dalton, Ga. I was impressed,” said Hugh Moore, Southeast Regional Sales Manager for Covanta. “We get a lot of calls from companies that say they are close to landfill-free but they have a lot of work still to do. That was not the case with J+J. In fact, they are the model story – they walked the walk of getting to zero waste.”

Delozier and this team were equally impressed with the Covanta Huntsville, Ala. plant during their tour and the two teams agreed to work together. But J+J had one more challenge back in Dalton before the partnership could begin. The city of Dalton has a flow controlled process for its landfills so businesses are prohibited from sending waste out of the county. The new relationship with Covanta would require J+J to transport waste not only out of the county, but across state lines.

“We had several good discussions with the local government officials,” said Delozier. “It was really about explaining how the material we were planning to move to Covanta was not ‘waste’ per se but actually ‘energy’. Eventually it worked out.” Moore added, “Not too many businesses would take on such discussions with local governments about waste management but Russ and his team were ready for that challenge! And even though there are transportation costs associated with going to Huntsville, they are willing to do it because it takes the waste out of the landfills and allows it to be converted to energy to benefit others.”

Now any waste at J+J’s Dalton, Ga., campus that cannot be recycled, reused or repurposed – approximately two percent of its total waste – will be sent to Covanta. Since J+J started shipping materials to Covanta, they are transporting about 11 tons of waste material to Huntsville every 6-8 weeks.

Once at Huntsville, the material is sorted and then processed to make steam. The steam travels through a six-mile pipe to the Red Stone Arsenal in Huntsville providing heat and cooling to the buildings. The Redstone Arsenal, a U.S. Army garrison, services a number of tenants including the Army Materiel Command, the Missile Defense Agency of the Department of Defense and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

J+J’s zero waste achievement is not just for manufacturing waste. It also includes all waste collected from the company’s Dalton administrative headquarters and manufacturing campus (more than 950,000 square feet). Waste is collected from all bathrooms, break areas, offices, conference rooms, design studios and other areas.

Going A Step Further – Certification

For J+J, a company that prides itself on sustainability and green processes, just being able to state that they were zero waste-to-landfill was not enough.

“There’s value in a third party verification or certification of this achievement,” said Delozier. As the team soon found out, certification is not a simple task.

Third party verification is an independent audit that assesses the validity of zero waste-to-landfill claims. The process looks both at where the waste has gone in the past and the management processes in place. This second point is important: the verifier wants to make sure that a business will sustain past performance in diverting waste from landfills.

“The certification process was thorough, tough and well worth it,” said Delozier. “GreenCircle, the vendor we selected to provide the certification, looked at our material flow analysis and even spent time with our vendors and our vendors’ vendors.”

In May 2015, J+J received its official certification from GreenCircle, becoming the first commercial flooring manufacturer in the U.S. to earn this distinction. This achievement is five years ahead of the company’s initial goal of being 100 percent landfill-free by 2020.

“My advice for other companies on this journey – buckle up!” said Delozier. “Truly, you need to be committed to it because it’s not easy. It takes time, patience and funding. Identify a waste champion with authority to make decisions throughout the process and have a good flow diagram of your organization showing where the waste is…and ultimately it will get easier every year.”

Not Slowing Down

Not unlike the marathon runner who draws on his last bit of energy to cross the finish line breathing deeply, sore and exhausted but vowing to run the next race, J+J is not done yet.

“We still have elements of our 20/20 sustainability vision – a set of environmental performance goals we aim to achieve by 2020 – to complete,” said Delozier. “It’s a never‐ending journey, but it’s an important one.”