On Tuesday, April 7, 2015, we were fortunate to attend the first annual Earth Month Business Conference in Memphis, Tennessee along with fellow Arkansas recycling professionals Cherie O’Mary from the Arkansas Recycling Coalition and Robert Hunter of ADEQ, who delivered an excellent overview of Arkansas recycling to the attendees. We found the conference to be professional and educational and are grateful to Mary Singer, CEO of CRG Sustainable Solutions and to Dr. Sarah Lewis, Managing Director of Research and Integration at The Sustainability Consortium for their hard work in organizing and facilitating this conference which brought together professionals from across the Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas region to discuss the immense benefits of environmental initiatives.
Rather than reporting on each session or touching on all the informative speakers and knowledgeable panelists, I think it best to share a few insights Martha and I found to be most applicable to our customers and to our business.
The main point we took away from the conference is that recycling is but one facet in the larger picture of sustainability. Corporations and smaller businesses alike are scrambling toward the sustainability label, but what is it about sustainability that is so attractive?
Of course, some consumers regard any green activity as further incentive to do business, but is the market share worth the trouble to such mega companies as FedEx, RockTenn, Brother International and International Paper? The question is rhetorical, of course, but it seems like the bigger picture of sustainability involves adopting cost-savings strategies as early as possible and viewing the setup capital as an investment in the future of the business. Sustainability involves spending money now in order to save money and resources in the long run.
That is and has always been our viewpoint in recycling. We encourage all of our customers to handle their own material, purchase their own balers, and to consult the market in all aspects of their operations. Keeping our customers in business by increasing volumes and seeking strategies to get premium pricing for our customers’ material improves bottom lines one, two, and three.
The best part of leading your sustainability initiatives with a wise, market-driven recycling program? The payback period is remarkably short. In our business, we see that a baler purchase can be justified within the first four to five loads of material. So depending on a producer’s volume, this move toward sustainability can show bottom line results within one business quarter. Therefore, encouraging non-recyclers to begin collecting usable material and encouraging those enterprises already participating to keep up with market demand in additional material markets is paramount in the overall picture of sustainability.
The conference also included a unique and engaging activity in which attendees were encouraged to take a pledge toward a sustainable practice of their choosing. For me, it seems I can be of better service to ORE customers by pledging to view their operations through the lens of sustainability and to focus on finding truly sustainable solutions in adding value to our customers’ operations. We plan to continue networking with sustainability professionals through organizations such as the International Society of Sustainability Professionals to stay on top of the sustainability effort and offer the most comprehensive and sustainable services for our customers.