Money for trash: SGP-certified printer monetizes packaging waste

DesigntexThe Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP; Sayville, NY), which provides sustainable printing certification to print manufacturers, has reported thousands of dollars in cost savings and more than 35 tons of recycling achieved as a result of new partnerships and innovations at Designtex, an SGP-certified facility based in Portland, ME.

Designtex designs and manufactures applied materials for built environments. As part of its decade-long SGP certification, Designtex engages in annual continuous improvement projects to increase the effectiveness of its sustainability program. In 2017, the organization pledged to eliminate all waste from its production facilities. As a result of its recycling initiatives, Designtex saw a huge reduction in waste and earned tangible profits from recycling every month in 2018.

Designtex took action in 2018 toward its zero production landfill goal by forming partnerships with vendors and others in the community. It eliminated all waste in the following categories while generating thousands of dollars in profit from the recycled goods:

  • Packaging waste: Designtex now gets paid to return hybrid packaging materials to its vendor for reuse.
  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE) waste: One of Designtex’s vendors pays for the return not only of its own HDPE waste but all HDPE waste generated by the facility.
  • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) waste: LDPE waste is delivered to a composite decking manufacturer as part of a joint program with other companies that generate LDPE waste.
  • Organic waste: A local company composts all organic waste from the facility for reuse as soil in the employee garden.

Paul Glynn, Designtex Manager of Materials and Digital Technology R&D and Sustainability Ambassador, credits employee buy-in with the success of the recycling program and other sustainability initiatives. “By working with employees from all departments,” he said, “the organization was able to design the flow around the program, so that the program fits right in.”

SGP certification helps printers stay profitable on the cutting edge of the industry by focusing not only on current sustainable practices employed by the facility but on their continuous improvement, as well, said the SGP. By following these best practices, the average certified facility can save $43,000 a year, according to SGP.

When advising other facilities about sustainability, Glynn always recommends starting with a small, achievable goal, learning from there and then expanding. “Don’t forget to reach out to suppliers,” he added. “They may already have a sustainability initiative that can help reduce your waste and costs. If not, they may be willing to collaborate to create one,” said Glynn.

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