Burnes Home Accents to Cut Waste by One-Fourth, Finds New Use for Sawdust

Burnes Home Accents to Cut Waste by One-Fourth, Finds New Use for Sawdust

Photo frame maker Burnes Home Accents is taking the sawdust waste from its manufacturing and turning it into materials that end up back in photo frames. Reusing sawdust is one way Burnes plans to cut the amount of waste it sends to landfill by 25 percent within the next two years.

Burnes, which also makes photo albums and storage products, started its environmental initiative a year ago with plans to reevaluate its product materials, designs, shipping and manufacturing.

The company is using its manufacturing facility in Durango, Mexico, to test some of its new practices. Burnes fully owns the Durango site, and has plants in Asia that it runs in partnerships with other companies. If the manufacturing processes turn out to be viable, the company hopes to implement them at its other production sites.

Burnes collects sawdust produced from the cutting process at the Durango facility, sells the sawdust to a supplier that turns it into fiberboard, and buys the fiberboard to turn it into the backing of photo frames and other products. The company has also been buying waste pieces of wood from furniture makers to turn into frames.

Another way Burnes is trying to prevent waste is by reducing the amount of items damaged during shipping. The company is experimenting with how to reduce or change packaging while keeping products from breaking. "It's a delicate balance because you don't want to overuse packing materials," said Mike Kirkland, vice president of marketing. "But if a product arrives and it's broken, you've wasted all the energy and materials that went into it." The company has lowered the damage rate for its 11"x14" frame from 40 percent to 4 percent, although by strengthening corrugated boxes, using a higher-grade glass in the frame and adding foam packaging between the items.

Burnes has also released a line of photo frames called Decor Essentials that are made with a variety of post-consumer plastic and wood reclaimed from buildings, bridges and shipping pallets. Some of the wood Burnes uses in other products comes from Forest Stewardship Council certified sources, and Burnes is in the process of seeking Chain of Custody certification from the FSC.