At Rockwell, our Vision is to be the best diversified, high technology company in the world. To attain this goal, we truly have to be the best in all areas, including our prudent use of resources, those of our company, our community, and our planet. Rockwell's comprehensive waste reduction and reuse program was expanded in January 1993 at Collins Avionics and Communications Division's (CACD) Coralville, Iowa location. This production facility dealt with a mountain of potential recyclables each day, ranging from plastic bags to package padding and electronic packaging materials.
With the assistance of the By-product and Waste Search Service (BAWSS), Iowa's waste exchange program, Coralville kicked off a program in which many "waste" items could be reused within the facility, sold, given to other companies, or shipped back to the suppliers who pay the freight. Not only has this landfill avoidance been a boon to the environment, it also translates into revenues of more than $75,000 annually. This savings provides the funding for the continuation of Rockwell's recycling program.
Rockwell has found an excellent means to process recyclables while contributing to the community. Many packaging materials are shipped to Goodwill Industries of Southeast Iowa, where mentally and physically challenged employees at the Rehabilitation Center grade and prepare these materials for reuse or recycling. This provides jobs to these valuable members of our community while freeing Rockwell employees from having to divert time away from work to process recyclables.
CACD leadership chartered a cross-functional team to develop a similar initiative for the Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Anamosa, Iowa facilities after having been convinced of the effectiveness of the program by the Coralville results and corporate accolades. This Solid Waste Environmental Leadership and Learning (SWELL) team soon grew to encompass Collins Commercial Avionics (CCA) and Rockwell Graphic Systems (Goss). The SWELL program has been presented to numerous businesses, agencies and recycling organizations nationally and internationally as well as corporate-wide at Rockwell.
How did the SWELL program come so far so fast? One of the critical elements is commitment, on the part of both employees and leadership. This includes a strong company/union partnership, which has been invaluable to the success of the program. Bargaining unit employees are an important part of the SWELL team, and a strong partnership between Union and Rockwell management has paved the way for the team's progress. The cross-functional, multi-level nature of the team has also helped the program's implementation, when a recyclable item finds its way into the garbage, there more than likely is a SWELL team member nearby to pass along a gentle reminder to the offender. The program relies on the support, ideas and dedication of all for its success.
It is for this very reason that education is so important. Successful waste minimization requires a day-to-day commitment for accurate source separation of recyclable items. Rockwell's division-wide clean out your office days have not only provided an excellent way to rid the facility of excess items and free up valuable floor space, but they gave employees the best possible opportunity to learn the recycling guidelines, through practice. For the first such event, held on Earth Day, 1995 at CACD, the SWELL team published a booklet of guidelines in addition to populating work areas with well-marked recycling bins.
Employees were encouraged to wear casual attire for the day-long event, which further boosted participation. Other clean out your files day have followed; the SWELL principles were put into action April 23, 1996 at the State of Iowa's "Clean Your Files Day" on the Capital Complex, where forty-six and a half tons of material were collected in under five hours. Rockwell was proud to team with Iowa's Department of Natural Resources and Department of General Services to make this far-reaching clean-up a reality.
Rockwell's employees environmental awareness has also provided an opportunity for employees to make a contribution to Goodwill Industries. The workforce at Rockwell has the option of on-site drink can and bottle redemption ($.05 can deposit in Iowa) but almost all choose to leave the beverage cans in designated receptacles for Goodwill donation which resulted in a donation of over $10,000 in FY96.
We at Rockwell feel we have the responsibility to share what we know, both our successes and lessons learned, with other companies and organizations. We recently captured the principles championed by SWELL in a "how to" document. The resulting 11-step booklet, the "World Class Resource Recovery & Recycling Program Guide", has been distributed to all of Rockwell's North American operations and to several other businesses to assist them as they kick off their own environmental waste minimization programs.
You can have the most successful recycling program in the world, but unless you have a market for recycled items, your efforts are futile. To facilitate end use opportunities for collected materials, The National Buy Recycled Business Alliance and several state Buy Recycled programs have been working to encourage businesses to consider recycled goods when making office and facility purchases. If a business has not looked at recycled content materials recently, the cost, quality, and availability of today's supplies will surprise them.
There are some odd items for which we have not yet found a market, a selection of miscellaneous plastics and foam "trash". However, this "trash" became treasured works of art in the hands of hundreds of area children during the Iowa City Artfest, held in the summer of 1996. In response to the SWELL team's "Junk Art" craft tables at the festivals, many teachers continually approach Rockwell about receiving a supply of these "unrecyclable" items for future art projects.
As you undoubtedly realize, "It's not easy being' green" ... it requires planning, education, and a great deal of commitment. Even so, a waste reduction and reuse program brings with it some hefty dividends, not just to a company's bottom line, but to the environment and the community. When we lend a hand to other companies piloting their waste reduction programs, we have reached another step closer to attaining our Vision.