The Recycle Cycle: National Distribution Center Turns Throwaways into Treasure
By Tara Laskowski
It’s a warehouse. It’s supposed to have a lot of boxes and cardboard—shipping items that might get tossed away after the products have been unpacked and sorted. But Good360 employees at the National Distribution Center in Omaha have found unique ways to make sure that materials that are costly to buy or that might get thrown away are recycled into greater purposes.
The NDC employees are up to their ears in cardboard, but by partnering with Firstar Fiber, they make sure not to create more waste. All cartons and gaylords used in the warehouse are re-used or taken to the recycler. In 2013, Good360 recycled more than 10 tons of cardboard.
And packing our own shipments for distribution to our members is also green. To cut down on the cost of buying those items and to reduce waste, Good360 works with Physicians Mutual Printing and The Nebraska Medical Center to receive their packing paper and foam.
“The print shop is right across the street from our warehouse, so it’s convenient and cost-effective,” says Jan McKenzie, manager of community engagement. “We are really pleased with these partnerships that help keep our operations sustainable.”
In 2013, Good360 recycled more than 10 tons of cardboard.
In addition to receiving recycled items, the National Distribution Center also gives materials away to other nonprofits that can use them. When clothing shipments include hangers, McKenzie and her team donate those to Open Door Mission, a local nonprofit outreach center that provides the community with clothing and household goods.
They’ve distributed more than five gaylords since they started the program last fall.
“We are always looking for new ideas to re-use materials and bring life to items that might be otherwise considered trash,” says McKenzie.
The National Distribution Center is EPA Smart Way certified. The Smart Way Transport Partnership, which begun in 2004, is aimed at “helping businesses move goods in the cleanest most efficient way possible.” Partners in the program have eliminated 51.6 million metric tons of CO2, resulting in savings of 120.7 million barrels of oil and $16.8 billion in fuel costs.
So on this Earth Day, ask yourself how you can be more innovative in making sure you Decrease, re-Distribute, and Donate. What creative ways have you found to be sustainable?