How to recycle the easy way

Submitted by: Rhonda Huskins, SC Manufacturing Extension Partnership, member of Small Business Council Advisory Board

I had the good fortune a year ago to tour the Toyota Motor Manufacturing plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.  As an engineering consultant who specializes in Toyota’s continual improvement systems, Toyota is considered to be continual improvement Mecca.  As an engineer, I fully expected to be impressed by Toyota’s streamlined processes, organized workspaces and dedicated employees.  What I didn’t expect, was to be wowed by one fact I learned while I was there. 

At the time of my visit, the Georgetown facility had 4,000 employees, six in-house cafeterias and was producing 1,700 cars a day.  However, what they do not produce was the most startling and thought provoking part of my trip.  That facility produces absolutely no landfill waste – zero, none, nada.  With all the materials, people and food that flow in an out of that building on a daily basis, not one scrap of anything ends up as landfill waste.  They even compost cafeteria food waste and use it for landscaping on the site. 

It was amazing to think about – I couldn’t turn it loose.  I kept thinking that if that huge factory with all those opportunities to generate trash can manage without sending anything to the landfill, why does my little household of two people take three bags to the convenience center every week?  The more I weighed the question, the more determined I became to mend my ways.  Thus began project Trash Reduction. 

The first step took me no farther than to look online to see what items would be accepted for recycle by our local collection and recycling centers.  I was amazed at what I found when I visited the website.  I was already recycling food cans, glass and cardboard, but somehow that was all I thought they would accept.  Armed with this new information, a large recycling bin and some liners, my household waste headed for the landfill dropped dramatically from three bags to one bag per week.  The addition of a compost bin this year has reduced that even more.    

So, how does this apply to your business?  In a business environment the opportunity to reduce landfill waste is even greater.  Some companies generate enough rubbish that they pay a fee for every pound that is emptied from their outdoor waste receptacle.  If that describes your company, then there is an opportunity to save money while helping to save the planet.  Typical office items that can be recycled include newspaper, office paper, cardboard, books, chipboard boxes, aluminum cans, glass, plastic bags, plastic containers #1 – #7, magazines, catalogs, junk mail, fluorescent lights, computers and monitors. 

I have been talking to several of my industrial clients about reducing their trash generation as a cost reduction measure.  Industries often have a large waste stream with more variety but often have even more opportunities to recycle.  Larger quantities of recyclables may be sold or picked up (at no charge) by companies who recycle.  In addition, materials can be offered to other industries on the South Carolina Materials Exchange http://www.dhec.sc.gov/environment/lwm/databases/scme/.

For a small business, the only downside is that you will need to find a way to get the recyclables to a collection site as neither the city nor the county offers pick up of recyclables from business locations.  It may be that a group of concerned employees can volunteer to rotate drop off responsibilities so that it isn’t a burden to just one person.   As an alternative, some of the private small waste haulers offer recycling if you prefer to pay a fee for pick up and not deal with it yourself. 

So, is recycling really worth the effort?  Yes, if you wish to positively impact the environment.  I am not an environmental activist, but do believe that individuals making small changes in their daily lives will always have a greater impact than some large initiative.  As I explained to a friend, the only thing I’m doing different is deciding whether to drop an item into the trash or the recycle bin – how hard is that? 

For more information:

The York County Solid Waste Collection & Recycling division is responsible for operating the County Collection and Recycling Centers countywide.  In addition, the division also operates a recycling separation center where recycled waste streams are separated and processed for delivery to the recycling industry.  Their website contains a complete list of everything they accept for recycling. http://www.yorkcountygov.com/Departments/DepartmentsNZ/PublicWorks/Divisions/SolidWasteCollectonandRecycling.aspx.

Items that Can Be Recycled

Newspaper, office paper, used motor oil, oil filters, oil bottles, textile items, cardboard, brown paper bags, scrap metal, tires, lead acid batteries, rechargeable batteries weighing 2 lbs or less, cooking oil, latex paint, vinyl siding, books, chipboard boxes, clear, brown, and green glass food and beverage containers, plastic bags, plastic containers #1 – #7, aluminum cans, magazines, catalogs,  junk mail, steel food cans, antifreeze, fluorescent lights, computers and monitors. For your convenience, most of these items can be placed together in a recycling bag, which is available at no charge at the collection & recycling center. Live Christmas trees will be accepted through January 31.

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Making Your New Year’s Resolution…Get Involved with a NonProfit

As tradition dictates every 365 days, we should try to kick bad habits and start life anew. So as you sit down to reflect what kinds of New Years Resolutions you will make for yourself in 2011, why not include getting involved with a non profit here in our community? For those of us who need a little convincing that nonprofits may be “worth our while” in the New Year, here’s some information for you to consider:

What’s the impact and history of non-profit organizations? Approximately 1.2 million organizations are registered with the IRS as nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit organizations in America have combined revenues of approximately $621.4 billion, which represents 6.2% of the nation’s economy. An estimated 10.2 million people are employed in this sector. The definition of charitable organization in American law can be traced back to the Statute of Charitable Uses (43 Eliz. I c4) enacted by the English Parliament in 1601, which has been described as “the starting point of the modern law of charities” (Keeton, 1962).

Why do non-profit organizations exist? Nonprofit corporations have a social contract with their communities. When the United States Congress met to develop the first federal income tax laws, they determined that nonprofit organizations should be free from the burden of having to pay income taxes and also called upon society to support these organizations. Nonprofits have received this status because they relieve the government of its burden and benefit society.  Nonprofit organizations exist for the purpose of serving a public or mutual benefit other than the pursuit or accumulation of profits for owners or investors as any surplus generated is directed to fulfilling the mission of the organization.

My time is precious, how do I know the benefits of volunteering my time are greater than the value of the time or effort that it requires? Many nonprofits can tell you about their outcomes and provide you real life stories on the impact that volunteering and/or donating has on individuals and families served (here in York County). For instance, my agency serves as York County’s substance abuse authority. Now you may say that substance abuse prevention and treatment may be a “hard sell” to a potential volunteer but nonprofits know how to “sell” their mission. For example, have you considered that   efforts such as yours could ensure the birth of healthy, drug-free babies giving them a chance at life-and a life without disabilities caused by prenatal exposure to drugs/alcohol? If the human lives factor doesn’t “move” you how about a business case? Each $1 invested in substance abuse services saves taxpayers $7.46 in costs associated with incarceration, drug-related crime, hospitalizations and other societal ills.

So I encourage you to contact a nonprofit in our community that interests you. I bet you will not only be “moved” by the stories and impact on individuals/families here at home but also “moved” to action to get involved in 2011. It is worth your while-get involved.

Here are some things to consider about serving on the board of a nonprofit  (Before you serve on a nonprofit board)

By Joanne Fritz, About.com Guide

Who is on the current board and how did they get there?

Find out, tactfully, about the skills and experience of current board members. This will give you an idea of where the board is strong or weak. For instance, is there someone who has an accounting background or experience in reading financial statements? If not, find out how the board manages its financial oversight responsibilities. How does the organization get board members? Are they friends of the CEO? Is there a nominating committee that tries to balance the skills board members bring to the table? Do board members have to be elected or approved by the organization’s membership?

How long do the board members serve?

Some boards have very long terms, such as five years. Can you be sure that you will be able to serve that long? If the term is very short, say two years, will you have time to make a difference?

How many board members are needed to take action?

The organization’s bylaws will specify how many board members there are (usually 6-12), and how many members must be present to do business and vote. That number is called a quorum. Ask also if that quorum requires members to be physically present or if you can vote by phone.

What committees does the board have?

Common ones are audit committees, programming committees, fundraising committees, public relations committees, and nominating committees. Make sure that you will be assigned to the committee/s that most interest you and that suit your skills. If you are interested in the financials, you likely won’t want to serve on the PR committee.

Can you can see the books and records of the nonprofit?

A nonprofit’s tax return is called the 990 and it has to be made available to the public. Small nonprofits, under $25,000 income, do not have to file a 990 but they should have some kind of accounting system that they can offer for your inspection. If an organization balks at your request to see financial information, consider that to be a red flag.

How large is the overall budget?

Look at the allocation of funds…most revenue should be going to programs, not administration. Look at salaries for top executives…do they seem reasonable?

What are responsibilities of the directors?

Is the board advisory only? At minimum board members usually have duties such as determining the group’s mission and purpose; selecting the executive director; overseeing organizational planning; raising funds; and serving as a “court of appeal” for staff and stakeholders who believe the nonprofit is not fulfilling its mission.

Are the payroll taxes of the organization up-to-date and/or is it being sued?

If a nonprofit fails to pay its taxes, the IRS can impose harsh penalties on it. Furthermore, board members could be sued for allowing such penalties to accumulate.

Is the board being sued or has it ever been sued? Being sued is not a reason to run from a nonprofit, but you should certainly know about and understand any lawsuits. It can indicate a tendency for the board to operate outside the scope of its authority and thus get itself into trouble. Board members are only protected from liability as long as their actions remain within the boundaries the organization has set up.

The Big Picture!

The Big Picture!

After servicing a customer for nearly seven years, we were somewhat perplexed to receive notice of termination to a long-standing contract.  We hastily attributed it to “the economy” but soon noticed the product was being serviced by our competitor.  What happened?

When conducting commerce, an enterprise often gets bogged down in the day-to-day grind.  Sometimes in an effort to sustain business we may lose sight of the “big picture”.  Questions like the following should be periodically reviewed:

  • Why did the customer initially select you to service their requirement? 
  • How do you now fit in their Supply Chain? 
  • Did your price or servicing change to where your value proposition is no longer a value to them?
  • Did your “niche” become an itch for the customer to look elsewhere? 

A customers’ changing environment may create needs that you must address to retain their business.  Understanding your customer’s current challenges should inspire you to create solid solutions to fit their need.  Be proactive in investigating their need and identifying the cause of their pain.  Once identified, be BOLD in providing a fix, showcasing your competence and confirming why they selected your service.  Sometimes, a small tweaking of your product and/or or service may be that all that is required to provide a certain element that is missing from your offering and allow you to continue your business relationship.

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Benefits of SBC’s Connection Program

Did you ever have a question you couldn’t answer and wish you had someone you could call to ask their opinion?  Look no further than the Small Business Council Connection at the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

This new program will put you into a group of 6-8 small business owners/managers.  Each month you will meet and mastermind situations and questions all of us face.  You will develop relationships with owners and managers of similar size businesses and you will have the opportunity to pick their brains.  You will receive suggestions from managers with different points of view and varied backgrounds.  Not only that, but when a concern comes up in your day-to-day operation, you will have several resources to call upon to help you make the best decision.

I have found the Connection to be a valuable tool in my business.  Those owners and managers that have been in my group have become not only resources, but friends that I trust.

If you would like to join one of the Connection groups, contact Becky Adams at the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce (803) 324-7500.

 Judy Pinner, President of Preferred Billing and Management Services, Inc.