CORPORATE RECYCLING-Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe Program slices worn athletic shoes into three sections (left) and grinds them into granulated materials (right) that are used to make synthetic turf, gymnasium flooring, and basketball and tennis court surfaces. (Photo courtesy of Nike.)
Recycling has come a long way from its initial community-based, grassroots efforts to save the environment one aluminum can at a time. Many cities now require residents to separate recyclables from ordinary trash, and major corporations are jumping on the recycling bandwagon, often providing consumers with incentives to support their planet-friendly programs.
One of the most prominent corporate endeavors is the Nike Reuse-a-Shoe Program-the shoe giant's longest-running environmental and community program, which started more than 11 years ago when company leaders wondered: "What happens to worn-out and defective pairs of athletic shoes?"
The answer: Most shoes were simply thrown into garbage cans, where they would end up in landfills. Nike developed a process through which old shoes could be sliced into three parts and ground into granulated materials-dubbed "Nike Grind"-that can be reused in synthetic grass-like field turf, gymnasium flooring, and basketball and tennis court surfaces. Nike now recycles between 1 million and 2 million pairs of athletic shoes annually-more than 16 million pairs since 1993.
A Chair with a Conscience
Steelcase, manufacturers of office furniture and storage solutions, has created the eco-sustainable Think Chair, constructed of 41% recycled materials (including soda bottles and water-based adhesives) and 99% recyclable when the chair is no longer in optimum condition.
"We see environmental issues becoming an increasingly critical issue for consumers," says Steelcase Seating Manager Todd Memmelaar. "There are four options: resale or refurbish, donation to charity or recycling," he tells OrganicAuthority.com. "The Think chair is 99% recyclable by weight. It disassembles in just 5 minutes with common hand tools, with parts over 50 grams well labeled for recycling. The objective for this feature is to keep the chair out of the landfill once its useful life is over."
Most major manufacturers of computer hardware and laser/inkjet printer cartridges offer recycling programs, and Hewlett-Packard leads the way.
Through HP's Planet Partners return and recycling program, customers in 30 countries can recycle used supplies. As a bonus, U.S. customers who place a recycling order receive an e-coupon worth up to $50 on new HP products from hpshopping.com. During the recycling process, materials are separated into plastics, metals, and residuals of ink, foam or toner.
"The resulting recycled materials are processed into raw materials used in everyday new products, such as HP scanners, automotive parts and microchip processing trays," says David Lear, HP's director of environmental strategies and sustainability. "Remaining materials and residual ink or toner are then used to generate energy or are disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner," he tells OrganicAuthority.com.
"The easiest way to properly dispose of used or unwanted equipment is to visit HP's website to place an online order," he continues. "All the customer has to do is put the unwanted equipment in a box, and HP will arrange for pickup from their home or office."
Recycle Your Carpet
Dupont recognizes that 3.5 billion pounds of carpet ends up in landfills every year, and it would never occur to most Americans to recycle their carpeting.
The company now works with local fiber consultants, as part of the industry's INVISTA Reclamation Project, to collect used carpeting-from scraps to entire roomfuls-to promote environmentally responsible disposal.
Reclamation centers are located throughout North America, and all carpets-regardless of manufacturer or materials-are eligible for the program. To locate a fiber consultant in your area, click here.