Is it Time to Un-Brand Sustainability?
by Avi Pogel
Down in Texas, I was struggling to get our client to capture more recyclables. The client’s production manager said “We don’t need to recycle. There’s plenty ah Texas to bury it under.” Texas landmass aside, this statement belies a challenge with the “green" brand. What does a recycling company do in locations where sustainability is viewed with suspicion? I suggest we un-brand recycling. Let’s stop calling it "green."
Recycling has been part of global commerce since the beginning of global commerce, long before green was cool. Back then, if you called a company “green” it meant inexperienced. The notion that recycling is akin to environmentalism is a relatively new spin on the centuries-old scrap trade. Recycling is good for the environment. Large numbers of businesses have embraced green practices for today’s eco-conscious market and they benefit from the “sustainable" brand.
However, there are companies that are not recycling as much as they could because they have an underlying notion that “green” is a gimmick they do not want to be a part of. This is unfortunate because recycling is not just green. It is cheaper to recycle than it is to mine copper or iron, or to grow trees for 15 years before making paper pulp from their fibers. Recycling supplies the industries of the world with raw material.
Recycling is a good business practice because it creates value.
The waste from our customers’ offices may be paper with sensitive information we will destroy or it may be plastic labels that are out of date from a manufacturing process. That waste is the raw material, a necessary supply needed by paper makers and plastics manufacturers. These commodities are in huge demand. Your company does not need to be green to add revenue to the bottom line by recycling. Efficiently channeling your company’s waste products to a company that will turn the waste into new goods saves money.
Why is it better to recycle waste then bury it or burn it? Because recycling is not green; it is green and black. Green because it saves energy and prevents pollution, black because it saves money and that is important for every company’s balance sheet.