The Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) today announced recipients of this year’s waste reduction awards. Interest in the 2011 program was high, with 280 winners recognized through the Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP) for their environmentally friendly business strategies.
“This year’s WRAP winners are evidence that businesses and organizations of all sizes are achieving significant waste reduction and recycling goals, all while helping protect the environment and preserve our natural resources,” CalRecycle Director Caroll Mortensen said. “In 2011 we have 46 first-time winners, and many organizations that have come back year after year with new and stronger waste prevention programs.”
In total, the winning entries reported diverting more than 2.3 million tons of material from landfills and reported more than $200 million in cost savings. Single sites represented 225 of the winning entries, while 55 were for businesses with multiple locations.
Winners ranged in size from mom-and-pop stores with fewer than 10 employees to multi-million dollar corporations with thousands of staff. Examples of WRAP winners include Egg Plantation Restaurant in Santa Clarita, which did its part by diverting 20,000 pounds of food waste from landfills in 2010 with an estimated disposal savings of $2,000, while 506 Safeway and Vons grocery stores diverted 375 million pounds of material to compost with an approximate $46 million in cost savings.
Every entry was evaluated individually, based on reported waste prevention, recycling, composting, procurement, and educational activities in calendar year 2010. Those who applied but were ineligible for an award receive assistance to improve green practices, such as ways to improve source reduction. WRAP 2011 honorees will receive certificates, window decals, and a special logo to notify customers of their achievement.
No matter the size of a company or type of business, reducing waste has a significant impact on overall waste diversion, which in 2010 was approximately 65 percent statewide. While this diversion level is an outstanding achievement, California still threw away more than 30 million tons of municipal solid waste in 2010–4.5 pounds of trash per person, per day–and nearly 67 percent of this waste came from the commercial sector.
Commercial recycling regulations are currently under development by CalRecycle to assist businesses in implementing on-site recycling programs.
Because many businesses will now be mandated to implement recycling programs, in the coming year CalRecycle has plans to re-evaluate its approach to recognizing businesses for exemplary waste reduction and recycled product procurement efforts.
Additionally, the department is currently working to develop strategies and recommendations to help meet the state’s new goal of diverting 75 percent of solid waste from landfills by 2020.
Recycling plays an important role in the battle against climate change by reducing the amount of waste material that decomposes in landfills and generates methane, a greenhouse gas that is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Turning old items into new value-added products also saves energy and resources.
WRAP has been recognizing business waste reduction efforts in California since 1993. View 2011 WRAP winner profiles on the CalRecycle website.