Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC has reached a major milestone – diverting an all-time high of 99.8% of total waste in 2020 – toward its company-wide goal of achieving zero-waste-to-landfill at multiple of the company’s North American facilities, validated through a detailed self-certification program.
As part of a comprehensive plan to advance the company’s environmental and sustainability agenda, fewer than 15 tons of material company-wide were sent to landfill, while the remaining 9,185 tons were either diverted, recycled, or reused. The 15 tons of waste sent to landfill this year represent a 97% decrease from 2019 in the amount of materials landfilled – more than a 500-ton reduction.
Nine Bendix locations, as well as the Elyria corporate headquarters, have achieved the company’s official Zero Waste to Landfill Certification. This means the sites are consistently diverting 100% of both industrial and nonindustrial wastes from landfill, through recovery, recycling, composting, or another diversion method or technology, including waste-to-energy. The locations utilized innovative technologies, processes, and tools, and the engagement of employees to drive reduction or elimination of wastes.
“Achieving zero-waste-to-landfill isn’t easy – it takes effort to build and maintain – but it’s a reflection of our deep commitment to sustainability in our operations,” said Maria Gutierrez, director of corporate responsibility and sustainability. “In developing our zero-waste-to-landfill validation program and achieving it across almost all Bendix locations, we are doing our part to protect the environment on behalf of our communities and our employees. This is a remarkable accomplishment built on many cultural and technological changes now in place across our business that all of us can take pride in.”
Bendix committed to achieving zero-waste-to-landfill as part of the sustainability efforts in place across its North American facilities. The company has pledged its support for the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 17 overarching environmental objectives adopted by UN member states to promote prosperity while protecting the environment. One of these objectives – Responsible Consumption and Production (encompassed within SDG 12) – is at the core of Bendix’s zero-waste-to-landfill efforts.
According to Gutierrez, the company credits its strong Environmental Management System and corporate values as key contributors in developing and achieving the zero-waste program. Begun in 2010, Bendix’s evolving waste management process and ISO 14001 certifications have helped provide the framework for continuous improvement.
Facilities Achieving This Milestone
As of late October, the corporate headquarters and all but two Bendix manufacturing locations have achieved the company’s official Zero Waste to Landfill Certification. They are now able to spotlight that status by displaying the program’s official Zero Waste to Landfill banner, signaling the site has successfully completed the certification and verification requirements. The current and always growing list includes:
- Acuña, Mexico, manufacturing operation (three of four plants)
- Bowling Green, Kentucky, plant
- Elyria, Ohio, corporate offices
- Huntington, Indiana, manufacturing campus (five plants)
Each location used a combination of multiple technologies and cultural changes, in place across Bendix, to achieve the certification. These include implementing the company’s Sustainable Food Service Policy that drove the elimination of plastic water bottles and Styrofoam products; launching new processes, such as centralized waste collection and spent material audits (aka dumpster dives); and utilizing new or innovative technologies, such as waste-to-energy (WTE) technologies, a composting program, and the use of food waste digesters.
While Bendix is still establishing baseline metrics for the R.H. Sheppard business it acquired in June 2020, the only company locations remaining to be certified include its reman steering production facility in Lebanon, Tennessee, and plant 1 in Acuña. Lebanon is on target to achieve this milestone in early 2021, while Acuña 1 is short of reaching its goal due to a small hazardous waste stream for which landfill disposal is the only available option.
How the Program Evolved
Bendix’s zero-waste-to-landfill strategy included a two-step plan. Step one targeted diversion of only industrial wastes. The second step targeted diversion for all remaining waste – including general trash and cafeteria waste. Key to the strategy was the implementation of spent material audits – that helped identify the effectiveness of current recycling and diversion programs, as well as remaining opportunities.
The pyramid for waste management hierarchy was the ultimate guiding force and criteria that drove every project and the overall effort. Using the pyramid, Bendix looked first to eliminate, then reduce, reuse, recycle, and reclaim – and as a final option when these strategies were not available, utilized waste-to-energy or incineration.
In 2019, even though several of its locations already achieved the 100% diversion goal, the company wanted to ensure that the claims could be validated and annually verified. After researching several available certifications, Bendix decided to launch its own rigorous self-certification process. The Bendix program standardizes and reviews the criteria needed at each facility to obtain Bendix’s official Zero Waste to Landfill Certification.
Bendix’s certification program centers around a detailed self-certification process, whereby each location must meet eight major requirements related to waste management, waste diversion, and continuous improvement to verify that the site is diverting 100% of its waste from being landfilled.
To become certified, each site must receive credit for completing eight specific waste management activities defined by the organization:
- 100% diversion from landfill for industrial waste for at least three months
- Implementation of a documented waste management process
- Implementation of an accurate and complete data collection system for all waste streams
- Implementation of a multistream recycling program incorporating metals, cardboard, paper, plastic, wood, and electronic waste
- Evaluation of all associated waste vendors as approved waste management and disposal sites
- Maintenance of shipping records for all waste categories
- Regular performance of spent material audits documenting findings and actions
- Waste management training for all employees
The verification program also includes a process for tracking noncompliance with the plan, including documenting any waste still being landfilled, deviations from 100% diversion, and any corrective actions to be taken.
“We’re extremely proud of the achievements that our Bendix locations reached in our zero-waste efforts,” Gutierrez said. “Our employees have actively embraced the practice of zero waste, which has really helped to accelerate our progress. Together we’ve reached a significant milestone, but we know we are not done yet. Our goal is to be a zero-waste facility, and there is still a journey ahead of us. We are escalating even further our efforts, now focusing on key topics such as reusable packaging and the elimination of single-use plastic. Our ultimate goal is to be in a place where there is no such thing as waste – just material looking for a home.”