This article appeared in the September 2020 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Waste Management is fully focused on the future because one company’s trash can carry serious ramifications to the surrounding communities and environment. Whether it’s the waste collection with which most households are familiar or the many other services they provide to local manufacturers, Waste Management’s influence in Michigan grows as more companies make sustainability a priority.
“When you manufacture a product, you also produce a certain amount of waste. That’s not necessarily bad when it is handled properly,” explained Denise Gretz, area vice president for Waste Management. “Some might be destined for a landfill but more and more of your waste can be reused to create new products or 21st century energy options that reduce a company’s overall costs and carbon footprint.”
Sophisticated waste removal remains a relatively new service in America with Waste Management and other waste removal businesses only popping up in the last half century. Their impact, however, grows every decade.
“Manufacturers understand their place as stewards of the environment and influencers in their community. They have a responsibility to future generations,” said Gretz. “Every year, more leadership teams prioritize sustainability. They are asking the question ‘what happens next?’ We can help these businesses locate solutions and, by being in lockstep with their waste collection needs, we can affect the building of a better world.”
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“You can’t be the company that creates waste but doesn’t know what happens when it leaves you,” explained Gretz. “Sustainability is on the tip of the tongue for millennials and younger generations — it’s something they care about deeply and they’ll show their loyalty if they see a business making the right decisions.”
With better in-house automation, emerging navigational technology for their trucks and plans to lead the way on recycling, Waste Management helps companies of all sizes take the right strides toward understanding and responsibly managing their waste stream.
“You have to invest in the right technologies to help eliminate as much waste creation as you can in your facility. Be aware of changing regulations and develop trusted and transparent relationships with state and federal agencies. Finally, you can’t hold your hands up when your waste materials leave and say ‘well, it’s not my problem anymore.’ Understand what happens to your waste once it’s left your facility and make sure it’s being processed in a responsible manner,” advised Gretz.
If you are not making sustainability a part of your overall business plan and setting goals for a more environmentally friendly future, you can be assured that your competition is. The future is being built now and manufacturers can and should lead the way in deciding what it looks like.
“Our influence is bigger than just what happens at your curb,” Gretz said. “When you look at what we do, we’re kind of an energy business. We turn waste and byproducts into new forms of energy — renewable energy, emerging landfill processes, recycling of the future. As custodians of that material, we have the opportunity to help your business go in a lot of different directions.”
Waste Management has been an MMA member company since March 2003. Visit online: wm.com.