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Becoming a Zero Waste to
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Becoming a Zero Waste to Landfill Facility
Contributed by Ricoh Electronics, Inc.
Disposing of waste into landfills is detrimental to the natural environment; water bodies, land and the air. Conservation of natural resources is important for all future generations. It is estimated that over 390 million tons of waste was disposed into United States landfills in 1999 . Today in year 2003, the situation is likely to be much worse. In light of our Company�s (Ricoh Company Ltd.) genuine concern to reduce this burden on the natural environment, we have embarked on the mission to discontinue disposing waste into landfills. Establishing such a system in the United States would be very difficult. The United States is a vast land with many landfills. Its culture is one of landfill disposal and not recycling.
fact, Ricoh Electronics, Inc. accomplished a culture change among its
employees to achieve zero waste to landfill. As of March 2001, all eleven of
Ricoh�s North American manufacturing factories successfully established Zero
Waste to Landfill Systems.
consciousness is an important element of business at Ricoh. In Japan, Ricoh is
well known for its excellence in environmental conservation. The company�s
leaders and top management are very committed to Ricoh�s environmental
involvement. In February 1992, Ricoh Group established its �General
Principles on the Environment.� This included an important �Environmental
Policy� for all of Ricoh and its subsidiaries.
This policy states ��we recognize environmental conservation as one of most important missions given to mankind, and we regard environmental conservation as an integral element in all our business activities.�
It is Ricoh�s goal to preserve planet earth in good condition for future generations. This Principle and philosophy would be the foundation for all future environmental activities within Ricoh. Among these milestones, it would include ISO 14001 certification and Zero Waste to Landfill.
Waste to Landfill Project
commitment to the environment, we have become a global leader in
environmentally friendly manufacturing. Our Japanese manufacturing facilities
have paved the way for other manufacturers. They have excelled in areas such
as energy conservation, noise reduction, waste reduction and zero waste to
In July 1999,
Ricoh Electronics, Inc. (REI) established a goal to achieve zero waste to
landfill for all its facilities. REI is a subsidiary of the Ricoh Group
with eleven facilities located in North America, including the United States
and Mexico. These facilities manufacture a wide range of products, which
The Ricoh Group defines a Zero Waste to Landfill facility as one that does not send any waste from their operations to a landfill. They classify zero waste to landfill into three (3) levels.
Level 1: (industrial waste).
Level 2: (industrial waste + general waste including waste generated by restaurants).
(industrial waste + general waste + household solid waste, sludge, such as raw
sewage, from private sewage systems). A target was established to achieve
level 2 zero waste for all REI facilities before March 2001, only 22 months.
The fact that each manufacturing facility is unique would make achieving zero
waste to landfill a very challenging goal. To properly pursue and ultimately
achieve zero waste to landfill would require a lot of effort and organization.
Another key factor in achieving zero waste to landfill would be overcoming the disposable culture that exists in the United States. In 1999, the United States disposed of over 390 million tons of waste . This waste was distributed among landfills throughout the United States, totaling greater than 55,000. According to the EPA, as many as 75% of these landfills are polluting our groundwater . Although recycling is a common practice in the United States, participation is not as successful as other industrialized countries throughout the world. This lack of participation could possibly be attributed to geography. The United States� population (over 280 million) is spread over 9.6 million square kilometers . This equates to over 0.035 km2/person. Compare this figure to a country like Japan where over 126 million people live within 377 thousand square kilometers or under 0.003 km2 / person . The result is that each Japanese resident has 10 times less space than United States residents do. This equates to less space for landfills and fewer natural resources. Thus, environmental consciousness becomes a necessity. REI�s environmental policy is summarized as follows:
Prevent Pollution; N - Saves Natural Resources; L � Comply
with the Law. Our main motive for becoming a Zero Waste to Landfill Facility
is our concern & commitment to preserve the earth for future generation.
We promote this philosophy and commitment under the slogan �Keep Our
There would be two key objectives for REI to successfully achieve zero waste to landfill:
establishing the company-wide goal, the next step at REI would be to create a
strategy. This strategy identified an REI general approach and empowered each
facility to design and implement their own unique zero waste to landfill
system to achieve the goal on time.
nominated a leader that reported to the Corporate Environmental, Health and
Safety Division Manager, who routinely reported the status of activities and
results to the President of REI.
established teams made up of employees from all functions and levels of their
establishment of the organizations, it was critical to identify all existing
waste streams and their quantities. Each facility was requested to establish a
system to identify and profile all waste types generated from their
operations. The facilities utilized various tools such as process flow
diagrams, waste type display walls, and disposal records analysis.
Zero Waste to Landfill Methods
To help the
facilities accomplish Zero Waste to Landfill, an organized strategy would be
needed. The strategy which was implemented contained two main components:
Ricoh�s �5Rs� Concept and �Green Purchasing.�
These two methods were based on a foundation created by another concept:
Productive Maintenance (TPM).
philosophy in regards to manufacturing is optimum efficiency with minimal
The 5R method
was originally applied at the Ricoh Japan facilities. The method was very
effective in Japan and was benchmarked at the North American REI facilities.
Applying the 5R Method enabled each REI facility to divert all identified waste streams from landfill disposal.
One key aspect of Zero Waste to Landfill was to address all materials coming into the facilities. The Purchasing Departments were responsible for working with all suppliers in support of the Project. It was important to work with these suppliers to regulate the types of materials brought into the facilities. These efforts helped to eliminate some waste streams and also made others easier to divert from landfill.
the Culture at REI
of the Zero Waste to Landfill Project would depend on one key factor:
establishing a culture change among the employees. As discussed earlier, this
culture change entails the ability to raise each employee�s environmental
consciousness. No matter how effective the recycle technology, the Project
would ultimately fail without the employees understanding the program and
their commitment to support it.
This was the
challenge faced by all of the facilities. They were also faced with some very
implemented at all Ricoh Electronics Inc. facilities was to change the way the
employees feel. We wanted the employees to care about the environment. Also,
understand the harmful effects of solid, liquid and hazardous wastes.
Teams designed many activities to increase employee participation and
awareness. As these activities became common, many ideas used to establish the
new culture came from the employees themselves. Some of these activities
� At one
facility, a large wall was painted with an environmental mural. The mural was
painted by employees to promote the 5Rs
� A monthly
newsletter called �Zero in on Zero Waste� was published and distributed to
share activities and progress toward Zero Waste to Landfill.
Zero Waste to Landfill
technologies, suppliers, vendors and employees helped to allow REI to achieve
zero waste to landfill. Each facility took part in a detailed verification
process for the Zero Waste to Landfill Project. The verification was performed
by a senior staff member from Ricoh Company, Ltd.�s Corporate Environmental
Division and included the following key aspects:
Note: It took
about 18 months to identify and develop recycling technology to prevent 100%
of our waste stream from being disposed into Landfill. During that time, we
promoted an environmental culture change from disposing of waste into landfill
to waste reduction and recycling.
2000, REI Georgia Plant became the first Ricoh�s North American Facility to
receive Zero Waste to Landfill Certification (Level 2). In March 2001, the
remaining North American Facilities achieved the same certification.
Not only was
the goal achieved, but many additional results were also realized:
Zero Waste to Landfill
of zero waste to landfill certification is just the first step in REI�s
commitment to protecting our environment. Many future activities are in
progress or planned:
of the Zero Waste to Landfill System
REI realizes that some current recycling technologies employed may not be the
optimum utilization of our natural resources. Recycling processes generate
waste and some of it may be sent for land disposal. REI is constantly looking
for better technologies to improve resource recovery & eliminate disposal
from the recycling processes.
of Thermal Recycling for Energy Recovery
In order to achieve the goal of zero waste to landfill, thermal recycling (for
energy recovery) is a technology utilized by REI. The ultimate goal is to
recycle in the most environmentally beneficial manner that involves increasing
reuse and resource recycling and minimizing thermal recycling. It is REI�s
environmental commitment to continue efforts in identifying alternative
methods to recycle our waste.
of Waste Generated
Ricoh will continue to strive for better, cleaner and greener manufacturing.
Through REI�s TPM and Kaizen Management System, we are aggressively seeking
to improve the efficiency of our manufacturing processes in order to minimize
the quantity of waste we generate.
gained a lot of valuable knowledge by achieving zero waste to landfill
certification. It is REI�s environmental responsibility to share this
experience with other businesses and government agencies in hopes that others
Another key environmental activity will be the conservation of energy. Certain
regions of North America are experiencing dangerously low levels of available
energy. Environmentally, REI will strive to reduce the amount of energy it
Noise pollution is also a very important environmental problem. Internal and
external noise levels shall be reduced at REI to below 85dB.
REI will continue to support its communities through various activities. With
these activities, REI hopes to increase awareness of environmental
conservation throughout North America. These activities will reinforce the
culture change established among REI employees. By participating in these
activities, REI also hopes to spread this culture change into our communities.
of PRTR Chemicals
REI is also striving to eliminate or reduce the amount of hazardous chemical
by-products. One such activity is the reduction of the use of toluene.
Processed toluene raw material is recycled through a separation process and
reused for internal parts cleaning.
Conclusion In 22 short months, Ricoh Electronics was able to accomplish many environmental goals. The largest goal was the diversion of all its waste from landfill. In the process, a culture change occurred that directly effected over 1,500 employees and many suppliers and vendors. Indirectly, this Project effected many communities, employees� families and friends. The momentum from this environmental project will not be lost. Ricoh Electronics will continue to improve its Zero Waste to Landfill System and pursue additional environmental goals. In addition, Ricoh Electronics will continue to share this information and be a leader for other North American manufacturing facilities.
 Zero Waste America website. http://www.zerowasteamerica.org
Pollution by Municipal Landfills: Leachate
Composition, Detection and Water Quality Significance,� Sardina �93IV
International Landfill Symposium, Anne Jones-Lee, Ph.D. and G. Fred Lee, Ph.D.
Factbook 2000,� United States Central Intelligence Agency website, http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/us.h
�The World Factbook 2000,�United Stated Central Intelligence Agency website,
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