• 67% of our workers live less than 15 miles of their job
  • 22% of our workers are less than 5 miles  from their work location
  • ~43% of our workers work in the same county  as their work location
  • 19 miles is the average distance a worker lives from their  work site

Three Covanta facilities have achieved ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System (EMS) certification, including Durham York in Courtice, Ontario; Niagara Falls, New York; and Burnaby, British Columbia.

Covanta facility in Niagara Falls, New York.

The ISO 14001:2015 certification process serves as a framework for businesses to reduce environmental impacts and respond to changing environmental conditions in balance with socioeconomic needs. This systematic approach to environmental management systems builds long-term success through the following:

  • Preventing or mitigating negative impacts of operations on the environment.
  • Mitigating adverse effects of environmental conditions on the organization.
  • Assisting the organization with compliance obligations.
  • Enhancing environmental performance.
  • Influencing how the organization’s products and services are utilized by employing a life-cycle approach to preventing environmental impacts.
  • Achieving financial and operational benefits by implementing environmentally sound alternatives.
  • Communicating environmental information to interested parties.

2019 Stakeholder Panel

In 2019, we continued the tradition of reaching out to our stakeholders by convening a panel group comprising subject-matter experts closely connected to Covanta. We invited panelists from among academia, our clients and 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 issues through this process confirmed the basis for the disclosures in this report and further supported Covanta’s strategic planning and goal setting. Panelists also reviewed drafts of our 2019 report to further enhance and strengthen Covanta’s approach to disclosure. We are grateful for the insights provided by this diverse and representative panel.

Some of our 2019 Panelists* 


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

Covanta Environmental Solutions (CES) provides a growing variety of advanced waste processing services. Sometimes, the best solution is finding industrial synergies, rather than disposal.

CES’s commitment to sustainable materials management and moving waste up the waste hierarchy extends outside of our clients and our facilities. At our CES Milwaukee material processing facility, a client was looking to dispose of an off-specification sodium hydroxide solution—a chemical used in wastewater treatment processes to control pH. We first assessed whether the off-specification solution could be used in our own wastewater treatment. Ultimately the solution was deemed insufficient for our own operations. However, we found another interested wastewater treatment company through our network partners. The sodium hydroxide solution was a perfect fit for their process and fit their treatment needs, and we were able to connect the two companies.

We intend to continue to grow our CES business by partnering and investing in relevant processing technologies. Doing so promises to help the environment by shifting a larger share of refuse higher up the EPA’s waste hierarchy. By reusing, recycling and recovering more, disposal and incineration volumes can shrink.

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.”