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Greenville, SC gear plant achieves zero landfill status

Our Baldor Electric gear plant in Greenville, South Carolina has achieved Zero Landfill status in 2017. The term “Zero Landfill” means that 100% of the plant’s waste is diverted from the landfill and converted into recycled products or used for energy. This plant, celebrating its 40th anniversary in Greenville this year, is the global producer of Dodge® shaft mounted speed reducers.

In late 2016, this team began exploring ways to increase its recycling efforts in response to a company initiative to achieve a 20% waste reduction by 2020. The team, led by Mike Trench, Maintenance Manager, and Roy Patterson, Maintenance Engineer, saw the initiative as a way to lower the plant’s carbon footprint, increase recycling, and decrease the amount of waste that was sent to a landfill.

“We thought back to a seminar we attended in 2015 that said zero waste was impossible, and that became our goal,” shared Patterson.

Pursuing this goal resulted in a partnership with VLS Recovery Services to recycle all landfill trash into energy. VLS also worked with the team to determine what materials were non-conforming and, therefore, could not go into the waste stream. The team at the gear plant then found other ways to recycle these materials.

Active involvement by all employees in the facility has been critical to achieving zero landfill status. Employees make the system work by placing metals, cardboard, electronic scrap, grinding wheels, batteries, and light bulbs into each of their waste streams for recycling.

As a result, the plant will divert 57 tons of trash this year from the landfill. The trash will be recycled or converted into usable energy.

“Zero landfill status is a source of pride,” explains Trench. “Employees stop us to ask if the plant is still doing the right things. They even want to know what else we can do.”

The team in Greenville is looking to expand the program to items such wood waste and oil filters. Both are currently hauled off for recycling, but the team believes these items are also good candidates to be recycled into energy.

The positive result has encouraged other plants within the company to investigate how to achieve zero landfill status at their own locations. These efforts support the company’s corporate sustainability strategy, which focuses on balancing economic success, environmental stewardship, and social progress to benefit all stakeholders.