Tools for sustainability: GreenBlue programs make businesses more environmentally friendly

Charlotte Dreizen and Kelly Cramer manage Composting Collaborative and How2Recycle respectively, two programs aimed at helping businesses get more out of their materials. Photo: Amy Jackson Charlotte Dreizen and Kelly Cramer manage Composting Collaborative and How2Recycle respectively, two programs aimed at helping businesses get more out of their materials. Photo: Amy Jackson

Greater productivity is good for business. What if the materials that comprised your products could be used—and reused—more productively over their entire life cycles? No matter what your business makes, you have potential to get more value out of your materials.

Charlottesville-based nonprofit GreenBlue can help. Its mission is to foster “a resilient system of commerce based on the principles of sustainable materials management.” Sustainable materials management is a new way of thinking about how society uses resources and provides new opportunities to reduce environmental impacts, conserve natural resources and reduce costs.

At GreenBlue, Charlotte Dreizen manages the Composting Collaborative, which brings together businesses, composters and policymakers to generate solutions to composting challenges. Kelly Cramer manages How2Recycle, the first and only comprehensive recycling labeling system for packaging in the U.S. C-BIZ spoke with Dreizen and Cramer about how local businesses could benefit from their programs.

Composting Collaborative

What does it do?

Charlotte Dreizen: It unites composters, consumer-facing businesses and policymakers to share best practices, resources and generate innovative solutions to shared challenges. It’s a great opportunity for Charlottesville businesses to plug into the national conversation around food waste and composting.

Who is it for?

Businesses that handle large amounts of compostable material—food, yard trimmings, paper and compostable packaging, for example—would likely benefit the most, whether a fine dining establishment, grocery store, coffee shop, catering businesses or a manufacturer of food products.

But almost all businesses have food or other compostable materials. Office buildings have left over food waste from employees’ lunches, as do event spaces, construction sites, university campuses, airports, public parks and most other public and private spaces.

For small businesses in a dense area, such as Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall, one has the opportunity to partner with neighboring businesses to share a composting bin if one generates less material than what may warrant individual pick-up.

Who’s doing it already?

Our 57 current members represent a range of stakeholders, from small, local Virginia nonprofits to companies with national operations, city and state agencies across the county, and small and large-scale composters.

Woodard Properties in Charlottesville composts at their office. Roots Natural Kitchen diverts pre-consumer kitchen waste to animal feed at local farms. And, of course, all Charlottesville residents are able to drop-off their own food waste at the City Market and at McIntire Recycling Center.

How2Recycle

What does it do?

Kelly Cramer: The How2Recycle label is an on-package, standardized recycling label that can be applied to any product or any packaging material. It tells people exactly how to recycle all parts of the packaging.

Consumer feedback tells us that the How2Recycle label is changing people’s recycling behavior, and refining their recycling knowledge. Our data suggests that 85 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product that features a recycling label. Companies can demonstrate their commitment to environmental sustainability with a How2Recycle label.

Who is it for?

If you are headquartered in Charlottesville—for example a brewery, or a gym with your own branded bottled water—get in touch with us! We’ll analyze your packaging and determine the right recycling label for your product. Other good fits include vineyards, juice and snack companies, co-ops, bakeries, local restaurants with their own branded packaging, or shops with their own branded paper or plastic bags.

Any company with consumer-facing packaging is eligible to join How2Recycle. For an annual fee, companies receive custom recyclability assessments for their packaging, recommendations for how to make packaging more recyclable (if appropriate) and How2Recycle labels for an unlimited number and variety of packages.

We can give small, local businesses a discounted rate. We want to support local business to build the How2Recycle movement in our home community.

Who’s doing it already?

The program has about 100 corporate members that represent more than 700 brands, including Amazon, Target, Nestle, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Hasbro, the Kellogg Company, Walmart, Unilever, Clorox, Kimberly-Clark, PepsiCo, SC Johnson and Walgreens.

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