RECYCLING: Saving Refuse Costs at WARP Speed

Although New York City's industrial firms generate more than 5,000 tons of solid waste daily, at least one of its Boroughs has found a way to help businesses cut collection and disposal costs, which average more than $400 per month. The Waste Assessment and Reduction Program (WARP) was created by the East Williamsburg Valley Industrial Development Corp. (EWVIDCO), a Brooklyn, N.Y., not-for-profit organization of area manufacturing business owners. WARP, which was formed five years ago, helps businesses manage their waste stream through production processes analysis, inventory control, operational efficiency improvements and waste reduction.

EWVIDCO found that Brooklyn industrial firms could save thousands of dollars yearly by recycling their waste materials or reducing their operating costs.

For example, custom suit manufacturer Martin Greenfield Clothiers, located in East Williamsburg, is saving more than $3,000 per year on hauling costs by recycling scrap materials. After WARP conducted a waste assessment of the facility that custom manufactures suits for high-profile clients such as President Bill Clinton, Paul Newman, Colin Powell, Shaquille O'Neill and Patrick Ewing, Martin Greenfield Clothiers began storing its cashmere scraps to sell them to a recycler for $3 per pound. WARP also found a recycler to take Martin Greenfield's wool scraps and other nonsalable scrap materials for free.

Voila! Bakeries, an EWVIDCO member and a large commercial bakery, worked with WARP to find local recyclers and farmers to reduce the company's waste stream and streamline its disposal program.

During the on-site waste assessment, WARP discovered that Voila!'s waste stream consisted of large volumes of plastic pails, corrugated cardboard, dough, steel drums and stretch film - items that could be recycled, reduced and exchanged easily. To minimize and economize, WARP suggested the bakery separate its waste, purchase supplies in larger recyclable containers, and work with local recyclers and farmers as waste disposal alternatives. The program reduced Voila!'s disposal costs by approximately 75 percent, saving the company nearly $13,000 annually.

Out of concern that its glass bottles weren't being recycled by a contracted hauler, Brooklyn Brewery, the largest brewery in the area, contacted WARP, who recommended the company use a glass recycler - a move that will save the company more than $8,300 annually.

Additionally, WARP recommended that the brewery sell its excess pallets (400 to 500 monthly) locally, saving the company more than $9,000 yearly. And, by finding a local ecology center to pick up the brewery's spent grains every week, the company saved $2,500 yearly.

In addition to being consultants, the organization donates, and helps companies buy and sell materials through its Materials Exchange Program.

Each week, WARP sends a list of materials wanted and available from area business to 800 companies by fax and mail. The list also is published in the North Brooklyn Community Newsletter, the "Greenline," which reaches an additional 400 companies.

Materials that have been bartered and sold range from a 1990 Jeep Cherokee to 6-foot rolls of plastic, which were given to local homeowners to help them winterize their houses. Computers donated by Brooklyn Botanical Gardens also have been given to schools and businesses.

Carol Lutker, director of the Material Resource Center, Holbrook, N.Y., recently received a donation of 294 yarn cones and 18 pounds of fabric. After seeing the materials listing, Vanessa Fundaberg, director of Faith Hope and Charity, a daycare center in the east New York section of Brooklyn, picked up the yarn cones for arts and crafts. Fundaberg also was able to acquire office furniture for the center and 30 rolls of plastic, which will be given to the children's families.

WARP primarily services East Williamsburg and Greenpoint businesses in the Brooklyn area. With continued contractual backing from the New York State Department of Economic Development and the Office of Recycling Market Development (ORMD), WARP has expanded to include the Red Hook and Sunset Park areas.

The ultimate goal is to service the entire state, helping businesses "turn trash into cash," and divert waste from area landfills.