In 2010, South Carolina sent 500,000 tons of easily recyclable material to the landfill — material that, if recycled, would have brought in nearly $72 million in revenue to the state. In response to these numbers, the South Carolina Recycling Council (SCRC) established a new program called “Share the Load,” which is being implemented at the South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center (SCTAC) in Greenville. Surrounding Donaldson Center Airport, SCTAC’s 2,600-acre campus houses technology and industrial businesses. Key companies onsite include Lockheed Martin, Michelin and 3M. Although the program is the first of its kind in South Carolina and possibly nationwide, the concept is a simple one: share the responsibility of recycling among several companies in an effort to defray costs and logistical headaches.
“The beauty of this one-of-a-kind, collaborative program is for the participating companies to ‘share the load’ of the materials while sharing the costs,” says Gerry Fishbeck, chairman of the South Carolina Recycling Market Development Advisory Council, which supports SCRC’s efforts by staffing and coordinating projects and meetings. “This program is a new level of advancement for the promotion of recycling and landfill avoidance throughout the state.”
Since all 83 SCTAC companies are located within a three-mile radius, the pilot program relies on a recycling “milk-run” concept, which began in April: a tractor trailer truck provided by a locally-contracted trucking company is routed through the center each month to collect low volume recyclable materials. By sharing space on the tractor trailer, companies are then able to share the cost of freight. The freight company bills the individual Share the Load participants a set monthly cost based on the total number of participants in the program.
“Adding various recyclable materials back into the feedstock and process stream will create new, useful products and contribute to the generation of green jobs,” says Tina Huskey with Mumford Industries Inc., an industrial plastics recycler located in South Carolina. Collected materials are taken to Mumford’s material recovery facility, where they are separated, processed and baled.
Huskey, who also serves as chairwoman of the SCRC Value Chain committee, says she has seen firsthand the amount of recyclable material that is being landfilled by manufacturing facilities because of their inability to justify the cost of working with a recycling company. Savings from deferred solid waste disposal costs can easily be repurposed to fund recycling under Share the Load, Huskey says.
“One of the largest problems with big industries in recycling is that they tend to focus on the big objects — such as pallets and cardboard — when many smaller, valuable materials that add up — such as packaging and shrink wrap — go straight to the landfill,” Huskey says. “It’s time the mentality of ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ goes into the trash. Share the Load helps collect that small stuff — smaller quantity recyclable material that costs our country billions of dollars to landfill each year.”
Corporate partners 3M, Lockheed Martin, Michelin and Cytec Carbon Fibers are leading the participation in the program and are encouraging other companies to become more involved with the initiative. Since the program was introduced in April, five companies have signed on. Onsite waste evaluations and education sessions are ongoing with the remaining SCTAC companies in an effort to secure their commitment to the program.
“Share the Load is a progressive program that allows each business located at SCTAC to positively impact our community by becoming more environmentally friendly,” said Dan Martins, manufacturing director at Cytec Carbon Fibers, in a press release.
“We hope all SCTAC operations will join our efforts in decreasing corporate carbon footprints,” added B.J. Boling, spokesperson for Lockheed Martin, in a press release.
In April, dozens of SCTAC companies attended a luncheon to learn how the Share the Load program could benefit their organization. Among the benefits promised by organizers:
The program will offer participating companies an easy, reliable recycling infrastructure that supports sustainability platforms, landfill avoidance and recognition as an environmentally friendly organization.
The program is designed to allow companies to avoid limited storage space, disruption of operations and recycling cost issues while fulfilling ISO 14001, which requires companies to establish, document, implement and continually improve their environmental management system.
Share the Load will facilitate the collection of a variety of small quantity materials, such as paper, cardboard, and plastic packaging (including strapping, shrink wrap, bags and liners); plastic process scraps or parts; plastic dunnage, such as pallets and trays; and containers, including buckets, bottles and pails.
Pending a successful full-scale rollout at the SCTAC site, currently targeted for July 2011, the state hopes to replicate the Share the Load model at other industrial parks around the state.
Brittany Carson is marketing coordinator for the South Carolina Technology & Aviation Center. Chantal Fryer is a member of the South Carolina Department of Commerce Recycling Council and serves on the steering team for the Share the Load program.