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Being Green, Doing Good

Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee diverts many products to salvage and recycling opportunities that would have ended up in the landfill. Among these products are textile, shoes, purses, belts, hats, backpacks, toys and stuffed animals, household goods, books, paper, cardboard, electrical appliances, electronics, cell phones, ink jet and toner cartridges, steel, aluminum and copper.

Within these broad categories are hundreds of items, which are sorted for shipment to salvage and recycling vendors. We divert approximately 20 million pounds of salvage or recycling grade products annually.

Environmental Metrics – Every year our goal is to divert from the landfill at a higher percentage more items than we did in the previous year before. Each month we calculate our percentage of diverted weight against the percentage of land filled weight in a “Going Green Aftermarket Calculator.” By entering our total pounds of salvage/recycle products versus our total pounds of waste disposal we can calculate our diversion percentage rate for the month. This gives us the knowledge we need to examine how much closer we are getting to reducing our waste stream.

Each month we strive to increase the percentage of our diversion rate. We continue to increase our diversions to salvage/recycling. As our diversion rate increases, our contribution to the landfill decreases. This is a good thing for our organization and for our community.

In addition, we calculate our waste cost as a percentage of our total retail sales. Doing this allows us to check how we are doing compared to other Goodwill Industries across the country.

The most current data available shows the trash cost averages as a percentage of retail sales is 1.8% as reported in the ASR GII 2008. That tells us we are doing a better than average job keeping our trash cost down. In comparison to the average of 1.8%, our annual rate for 2008 was 1.17%, for 2009 had dropped to 0.99% and is currently at 0.85%.

Measuring is the first step in our waste reduction strategy. Finding new opportunities for recycling is an ongoing process. Finding new opportunities increases the bottom line, creates green jobs and contributes to our environmental responsibility.

In addition to donating to Goodwill, what other tips and practices do you use to recycle and divert items from landfills?

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