CINCINNATI, OH — Last week, Sunny Delight Beverage Co.'s Sherman, Texas, manufacturing plant became the company's final site to complete its goal of sending zero waste to landfill.
Sunny Delight laid out its zero waste goal in its Inaugural Sustainability Report published in mid-2009. The company hoped to reach the goal by 2013, but has already achieved the goal at all six of manufacturing sites.
Its plants in Anaheim, Calif.; Littleton, Mass.; and Mataro, Spain, reached the goal in 2009, and its South Brunswick, N.J., and Atlanta, Ga., locations followed earlier this year.
Altogether, that means 1,140 fewer tons of waste are being sent to landfills. In its sustainability report, Sunny Delight said that in the first six months of working toward the goal, it was able to change waste from an expense to a revenue stream by sorting trash and, when possible, recycling it.
Zero waste to landfill is a goal that, at first glance, seems like a fairly easy one to achieve: Find something to do with your waste other than send it to landfill. It especially seems like low-hanging fruit in light of the stream of companies and facilities that have achieved or almost reached that goal.
Carpet maker Interface is 1 percent away from zero waste operations. Frito-Lay's Topeka, Kan., factory sends only 1 percent of its waste to landfill as well. Twelve PepsiCo International plants in the U.K., including sites that make Doritos, Quaker Oats and Walkers, send zero waste to landfill. United Biscuits sends no food waste to landfill, and it has reduced the amount of non-food waste that it sends to landfills by 44 percent; it is so confident in its zero waste efforts that it moved its zero waste goal from 2015 to 2012.
While waste reduction should be the primary focus, sending zero waste to landfill does not necessarily always include making less waste, and can be achieved through recycling, composting or waste-to-energy incineration.
It's not always as simple as it sounds, since facilities first need to have access to recycling or composting services, or they need to seek out companies that will take their wastes.