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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.
this 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
Ricoh’s 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
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 include:
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).
3: (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 Earth Clean”.
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.
facility 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.
leaders established teams made up of employees from all functions and levels
of their organizations.
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
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
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
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.
of Green Purchasing:
Purchasing Department initiated the installation of a plastic resin silo.
The 3,000-gallon silo would allow large shipments of resin to be delivered
via tanker truck. This bulk storage method eliminated packaging materials
such as gaylords, pallets and stretch wrap.
Purchasing Department worked with a supplier to provide reusable, washable
cloth rags for Maintenance and Production. This program eliminated the
need for disposable rags.
Purchasing Departments worked with suppliers to return used shipping
the Culture at REI
success 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.
was the challenge faced by all of the facilities. They were also faced with
some very difficult questions:
we achieve the culture change without monetary incentive?” We chose not
to provide and monetary incentive because we felt that the results would
“Can we change the culture enough that employees will apply these environmental activities from work and into their homes?”
strategy 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
Promotion 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.
signs and banners with environmental slogans were created and posted
throughout the facilities to promote environmental conservation.
facility had a kite-flying contest. Employees designed and build kites
made from waste found in the production and office areas.
designed logos and slogans and printed them on coffee cups and shirts for
displays were set up all of the facilities. Samples of all waste types
were categorized and posted on the walls so the employees could see the
waste that was generated at their facility.
facility established a “What bin does it go in” contest. Display
boards showed waste samples and recycle container labels. The employees
checked on a game card, which container each waste sample should be placed
in. All employees who participated received a promotional gift and a
drawing from correct cards was conducted for more substantial prizes.
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:
of all internal processes pertaining to the system and the supporting
audit of all external recycling vendors including transportation
of all supporting documentation from external recycling vendors including
agreements and Certificates of Recycling.
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.
December 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.
only was the goal achieved, but many additional results were also realized:
employee awareness of environmental conservation.
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 consumes.
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
“Groundwater Pollution by
Composition, Detection and Water Quality Significance,” Sardina ‘93IV
International Landfill Symposium, Anne Jones-Lee, Ph.D. and G. Fred Lee, Ph.D.
“The World Factbook 2000,” United States Central Intelligence Agency
“The World Factbook 2000,”United Stated Central Intelligence Agency
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