Environmentally Friendly Companies in Asheville, NC
Business leaders say that not only do environmentally sound practices help keep Buncombe County beautiful, they also make for higher profits and a more stable economy. In a county where tourism generates a $1.9 billion annual economic impact, the lessons learned could help keep the region attractive for generations to come.
Danny's Dumpster Turns Restaurants Green
Twenty-seven tons of trash. That's how much waste Danny Keaton's company diverts from the landfill each week by making it easier for other people to compost and recycle.
When Keaton started his waste disposal business in 2007, a new state law was on the horizon, and with it a new opportunity. The 2008 law said that businesses that sold alcohol for on-site consumption – bars and restaurants – had to recycle alcohol containers.
Keaton started hauling the recycling, but soon realized that restaurants also generate a lot of organic waste. Now he hauls food scraps to Crowell Farm for composting. Keaton returns the resulting rich soil to customers who want it, like Sunny Point Café, where compost helps feed the backyard garden that supplies fresh ingredients.
"When you look at what’s being diverted from the landfill, sometimes it's 75, 80 percent of what they were sending," Keaton says of his customers.
And the cost of disposal isn't any higher, since less winds up in the dumpster.
Thermo Fisher Scientific Sets a Bold Goal
Jeff Powers' inspiration came during a conference at Penn State, in which a fellow presenter told students how Subaru had managed to cut its landfill waste to zero at a plant in Lafayette, Ind. Powers, who is director of manufacturing operations for Thermo Fisher Scientific – Asheville, set out to duplicate the feat.
Last fall, the site established a "green team" that promotes recycling. Monthly waste dropped 25 percent. This summer, employees did a dumpster dive to see what was still being thrown away. Powers estimates that 75 percent of what was found could be recycled or composted. He hopes to eliminate the remaining 25 percent by 2015 by adjusting manufacturing processes.
The site, which is already part of Thermo Fisher's company-wide lean-enterprise program focusing on eliminating waste, went through an "E3" process, which identified ways to cut consumption and be more efficient. Implementing the changes has not only saved money, but led to a smoother operation that has improved on-time delivery to customers.
Keeping Extra Trucks off the Road
To begin to understand the impact of the WNC Transportation Alliance, consider this number: 42,000.
That's how many gallons of diesel are saved each year along one trucking route between Asheville and Florida.
The alliance serves as a matchmaker between businesses that truck products. For instance, Southeastern Container Inc. ships soda bottles to Florida, while Ingles Markets imports fresh produce from the state. With a little coordination, the same truck that carries bottles to Florida can return with groceries.
Sharing that one route is saving the companies $307,652 a year and prevents 462 tons of carbon emissions by reducing miles driven with empty trailers.
“That’s out of the many, many shipping channels that those two companies have,” Clark Duncan, spokesman for the alliance, says.
“It hits the triple bottom line,” he says. “They recognize they can run their business in a smarter, more efficient way while also benefitting the environment. And making businesses more profitable means more jobs for Buncombe County.”
Read about more ways Asheville, NC is going green.