Posts Tagged ‘zero landfill’

Getting To Zero Landfill

December 14, 2015

yellowstone mded

The National Parks have had a long-standing interest in implementing sustainability initiatives. In previous years, for example, the parks put into the place the “Healthy and Sustainable Food Initiative” by increasing the amount of locally sourced food at its concessionaires. In 2015, the Park Service decided to address a different sustainability challenge–the 100 million pounds of trash generated each year by park visitors. They have done this by cooperating with several organizations to make the National Parks Zero Landfill spaces. These organizations include Subaru, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the National Parks Foundation (I donate to the latter 2). Subaru is a logical partner for this effort due to its experience with its zero landfill factory in Lafayette, Indiana.

The program has begun with pilot projects at 3 iconic parks: Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Denali. These three parks alone account for 16.6 million pounds of waste annually. Of this amount, about 6.9 million pounds are diverted from the landfill–the question is how to keep the other 9.7 million pounds out of the landfill as well. The first step is for the National Parks Conservation Association to review the current practices in these parks in terms of recycling, composting, and waste reduction efforts. Subaru’s factory experts on “zero-landfill processes” will also visit these parks. The insight from these assessments will give the park service insights on how to reduce the amount of waste that needs to be landfilled, with the goal of zero waste at all being landfilled.

That is the goal, at least. Whether this effort will truly result in absolutely zero materials being sent to the landfill is an open question; however in all cases, the idea is to have the National Park Service send nothing, or almost nothing, to any landfill–first at these 3 parks, and then hopefully at all of the nearly 300 units in the National Park system.

The NPS Zero Landfill Program

What The Park Visitor Can Do

Subaru’s Zero Landfill Factory

Healthy and Sustainable Food at the National Parks

 

 

 

 

 

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Calling All Subies

September 30, 2010

Most discussion of the environmental impact of cars is focused around miles per gallon. In other words, the impact of a given car upon the environment occurs after the point of purchase. Automobiles do indeed produce significant environmental side effects simply by being used (for example, burning gas). But what about the process of production itself? What is happening before someone buys the car?

I happen to have a Subaru. I bought the car because my wife could see out of it, and I also enjoyed driving her Subaru. At the time, a given car’s manufacturing process was not a factor at all. But it turns out that the Subaru of Indiana Automotive Plant has a very impressive sustainability story to tell.

The most publicly notable achievement is its zero landfill status—that is, recycling just about everything they use. They are very proud of this. Zero landfill means that since May, 2006, the plant has sent nothing to the landfill. Put another way, I have sent more to the landfill with my weekly trash bag than the plant has.

However, there have been some other concrete results as well. For example, they saved over 100 pounds of steel per assembled car simply by reducing excess material in parts. They also implemented a “reverse logistics” system to send excess packaging back to Japan (Subaru is a Japanese company) to be reused. Suppliers take back other surplus packaging for re-use as well. Another hidden example is the primer under the paint. Before, they used to throw the excess away; now, they scrape off the excess, dump it into a bucket, and re-use it.

A couple of other non-typical aspects to the Subaru environmental story come to mind. The Indiana plant sits among 800 acres—many of which are actually part of a Backyard Wildlife Habitat (a program of the National Wildlife Federation). Also, Subaru sells a good number of PZEV—lower emission models throughout the United States, not just California.

All this raises the question of just precisely how does one measure how environmentally friendly a car is? What if the answer goes beyond miles per gallon?

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