Subject Profiled: Robert Wellspring
When it comes to reducing waste at Sears, polystyrene is a sticky issue. Most appliances and electronics are now shipped with foam and plastic instead of the cardboard boxes previously used. While this reduces packaging weight and helps fit more product into each truck -- reducing transit and emissions -- it comes with a new set of challenges. Most municipalities can’t recycle it and it gets stuck in compactors. Overall, it can be a frustrating situation.
That is, it’s frustrating for everyone except Robert Wellspring, Logistics Operations Manager at our National Logistics Centre in Calgary, AB. Robert has practiced the 3R’s for a long time. When polystyrene became an issue he knew he had to find a solution. Robert engaged ReAdd Mix, a local company that works with the Hutterian Brethren of High River Colony, outside of Calgary. They had just started to process polystyrene into lightweight aggregates for construction. Impressed with the results, the Calgary NLC started sending polystyrene to ReAdd Mix in 2011.
In the first year they sent more than twenty-two 53’ trailer loads (totalling 77,000 cubic feet). To make sure that this waste loop remains fully closed, Robert requests that any of the cardboard boxes used to transport the polystyrene get baled and returned to the Calgary centre for recycling. Robert’s efforts have set the Calgary facility on track to meet the company’s 90% waste diversion target.
The success of this project was also partly due to the ISO14001 certification that our Calgary NLC obtained in 2010 – the first of all our Logistics Centres to do so. This standard requires the creation of an Environmental Management System, which involves setting policies, targets, programs to meet these targets, and constant evaluation of the most relevant environmental aspects of a company. Addressing new waste streams, such as polystyrene, deals with one of the most relevant aspects of a logistics centre.
These types of initiatives are the result of a team effort and Robert works hard to engage his colleagues by using visual displays to keep everyone up to date on progress. Under his leadership, everyone plays a role in helping the NLC reduce its footprint.
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