Companies Go Green for Earth Day and All Year Long

April 22, 2003
It's that time of year again: A number of companies across the country participated in local Earth Day celebrations, encouraged employees to reuse and recycle, sponsored environmental activities both at their facilities and in the surrounding community. But some companies go green all year long.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is partnering with local schools throughout the country to improve the environment in conjunction with Earth Day, April 22. Wal-Mart stores and SAM'S CLUBS will grant $1.7 million to students throughout the country to promote their environmental initiatives in local communities.

On Earth Day, associates at the company's 3,400 Wal-Mart stores and SAM'S CLUBS nationwide are announcing names of local schools receiving an environmental grant earmarked for a project that will benefit that community. Each store and club will give away $500. Associates will have a check presentation for their local school. In addition, many stores and clubs will have their schools' environmental projects on display.

"We are proud to support the initiative of young people who are working to better our environment," said Betsy Reithemeyer, director for the Wal-Mart Foundation. Since 2000, the company has donated more than $6 million to environmental efforts. "We continue to strive to be a dedicated, active partner in the environmental efforts of our local communities."

Wal-Mart locations also offer plastic shopping-bag recycling. Last year, Wal-Mart stores nationwide collected more than 15.5 million pounds of plastic and more than 3 billion pounds of cardboard from their local communities through the company's recycling program.

Most Wal-Mart stores will also accept rechargeable batteries for recycling including Ni-Cd, Ni-MH, Li-ion or Pb batteries, commonly found in many household items such as camcorders, power tools, cellular and cordless phones. Wal-Mart also recycles watch batteries in its jewelry department and used car batteries in stores that have a Tire & Lube Express department. Wal-Mart is in the process of re-lamping its discount stores nationwide, switching from T-12 bulbs to more energy efficient, low-mercury T-8 bulbs, which are also easier to recycle and handle.

At Anheuser-Busch, Earth Day comes 365 days a year. The brewer has been recycling for more than 100 years. In fact, company-wide, it recycles more than 97 percent of the waste it generates.

In addition, Anheuser-Busch Recycling Corp. is the world's largest recycler of used aluminum beverage containers, recycling 776 million pounds last year alone. That's more than 125 percent of the number of cans its breweries use to package their product.

Busch Agriculture Resource operations composted more than 619 million pounds of farm materials in 2002. And, through modifications in its packaging, Anheuser-Busch saved more than 1.3 million pounds of aluminum and 10.5 million pounds of paperboard.

"Anheuser-Busch has a long-standing tradition of environmental responsibility," said John Stier, Anheuser-Busch's director of Environmental Assurance. "We believe that educating the public about protecting our natural habitats is not just our corporate responsibility, but also our duty. And we continually seek for new ways to minimize our environmental impact by reducing, reusing, and recycling whenever possible."

In addition to its other environmentally conscientious efforts, Anheuser- Busch's Graphics Department has been responsible for implementing the use of recycled paper for company letterhead, business cards and envelopes. It also features agricultural-based inks, rather than those made from petroleum products.

Kinko's Inc. recognized top finishers in its fourth annual "U.S. Environmental Branch of the Year" award, which is based on superior performance in conserving energy, using recycled materials, eliminating waste, recycling waste streams, and participating in local environmental outreach programs.

For the second straight year, the company's Eugene, Ore., branch took top honors for its efforts to incorporate sustainable business practices. The Tigard, Ore., branch placed second with two California branches in Chico and Sacramento tied for third.

"At Kinko's, we encourage the team members at all of our more than 1,100 locations to uphold the company's core values, which include a focus on community and the environment," said Gary Kusin, president and chief executive officer of Kinko's.

Kinko's Eugene, Ore., location earned the top award through a combination of new and ongoing activities, including participating in a citywide alternative transportation competition, winning a Lane County Trashbusters Award, and challenging team members in a competition to decorate the branch for the holidays using recycled or waste materials.

"It's great to be part of a company with such a powerful legacy of environmentally focused business practices and a team that embraces a commitment to the environment as a core company value," said Joel Triplehorn, branch manager, Kinko's Eugene, Ore. "Considering how central it is to Kinko's culture, our entire team is thrilled to have repeated as 'Environmental Branch of the Year.'"

In fact, the store's "green machine" program inspired a similar program at Kinko's locations around the country. The branch stocks its self-serve, black-and-white copiers with 100 percent post-consumer recycled, process chlorine-free paper at no additional cost to customers.

The "green machine" is part of a part of a new program launched last month to help Kinko's customers understand how everyday purchasing decisions can positively impact the long-term health of the planet. From now until April 27, each U.S. Kinko's location has designated one self-serve black and white copier as a "green machine," replacing standard 30 percent post-consumer recycled paper with 100 percent post-consumer recycled, process chlorine-free paper.

Another highlight of the program is Kinko's partnership with the National Arbor Day Foundation. Kinko's will plant a tree on behalf of each customer who makes a qualifying purchase during the promotional period. With assistance from its customers, Kinko's hopes to donate 50,000 trees enough to replant approximately 100 acres of fire-damaged U.S. National Forests.

Other top finishers in Kinko's annual environmental competition included locations in Greensboro, N.C.; Austin, Texas; Countryside, Ill.; Philadelphia; Gainesville, Fla.; Bowling Green, Ky.; Sherman Oaks, Calif.; Nanuet, N.Y.; Livonia, Mich.; Madison, Wisc.; Portsmouth, N.H.; Indianapolis; Fort Collins, Colo.; El Cajon, Calif.; and Albuquerque, N.M.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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