Whole Foods/Cork ReHarvest Partnership: A Best Practice in Product Lifecycle Management

Image courtesy of Whole Story - the official Whole Foods Market blog.

Earlier this spring, Whole Foods Market and Cork ReHarvest announced a partnership to allow Whole Foods customers to leave wine corks in drop boxes in all Whole Foods stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdomto be recycled.  This is an interesting program with a great focus on the lifecycle of products.

Although many people recycle cans, bottles and newspapers, too many other products slip through the cracks and end up in landfills.  I have written in the past that all products that cannot be recycled in towns and municipalities at curbside should come with instructions on how to responsibly be disposed of when finished.  Whether this includes empty toothpaste tubes or laptops, it is important for companies to not only focus on the green marketing message at time of sale, but also the environmental considerations at the end of the product’s lifecycle.

Whole Foods has been an industry pacesetter for some time, having announced a partnership with Preserve in early 2009 to allow customers to bring in hard-to-recycle #5 plastic to stores to be recycled.  This includes Brita filters, which too often find the trash after two months use.  Here is some additional coverage on the Whole Foods blog from April 2010.

My firm, Grossman Marketing Group, also tries to do its part by not only using environmentally-friendly products but also allowing our employees to bring in used lightbulbs (CFL), batteries and paint from home to be recycled.

Consumer goods and electronics companies have a long way to go to ensure that their customers know the facts about what to do with their products when they are finished using them.  However, these partnerships that companies like Whole Foods have created are an encouraging step – and probably a very good way to continue to build their brand and encourage store foot traffic at the same time!

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Looking in the mirror on America Recycles Day

Image courtesy of the National Recycling Coalition

America Recycles Day (ARD) was held this past weekend (Sunday, November 15).  Put on by the National Recycling Coalition, a non-profit advocacy group focused on waste reduction, reuse and recycling, ARD is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and to buy recycled products.

These types of events are helpful reminders, but they come and go.  What’s more important is that we demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the environment in our personal and professional lives.

Over the past several years, our firm has worked hard to do business in a responsible manner.  I spoke with our Facilities Director, Barry Lyons, to get the latest update on what we do internally to leave less of a footprint.  I’m proud to include a list of the following: what we recycle, what we allow and encourage our employees to bring in from home to be recycled, as well as products we use that are made from recycled or environmentally-friendly materials.

What we recycle

  • Paper
  • Corrugated cartons
  • Batteries
  • CFLs
  • Fluorescent tube bulbs
  • Bottles & cans
  • Wood pallets
  • Metal (old shelving, files, cabinets)
  • IT: Monitors, computers
  • Printing materials: Plates, film, inks, fixer, developer
  • Paint

What employees can bring in

  • Batteries
  • CFLs
  • Fluorescent tube bulbs
  • Paint

What we use made from recycled materials:

  • Paper goods: Printing paper, copy paper, corrugated cartons, calculator and adding machine tape, our corporate stationery system, paper towels, toilet paper
  • Other: Office supplies where we have an option (i.e. paper clips), soap for our pressman (made from recycled walnut shells)

Other products we use that are environmentally friendly
Soy inks, solvents for printing, facility and office cleaning products, lawn care products, snow and ice products for our parking lot, de-icer for our stairs and entrance, new computers, new monitors, wind power for our electrical needs, exterior lighting on timers, electrical audit  of our facilities, etc.

By no means is our job complete.  There are a number of other ways that organizations can operate in a more sustainable manner (water management, hybrid vehicle fleets, green building, etc), but this is a good place to start.  If you are interested in learning the specifics of what we have done here at GMG, please let me know and Barry and I can help.

If you are in a position to influence your organization’s facilities and sustainability decisions, I encourage you to do so.  Making green choices can have a tremendous impact on the environment, on your relationships with your colleagues, as well as on your corporate image.