You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make. —Dr. Jane Goodall
Environmental stewardship is woven into the fabric of Mountain Rose Herbs’ company culture and sustainable business practices. Striving towards zero waste is one way we take responsibility for our impact. Thanks to our dedicated staff, we became the first company in Oregon to achieve a TRUE Zero Waste Facility certification from Green Business Certification Inc. We completed a peer-reviewed scorecard and on-site audit to achieve the highest-level certification—platinum!
How Do We Do It?
We track all materials that come into our facility and try to reuse, donate, compost, and recycle everything we possibly can. That means hand-sorting packing peanuts, storing discarded oil for bio-diesel salvage, and cleaning dirty yogurt containers from the break room before recycling. It’s a labor- and space-intensive system. In addition to daily sorting, we engage our vendors, form relationships with recycling partners, and educate employees about zero waste.
An important part of our zero waste program is understanding our waste streams and diversion rates. What is a “waste diversion rate”? This is the percentage of waste materials that gets reused, donated, composted, or recycled. It’s what we keep out of the landfill. So, what does “zero waste” mean? Generally, "zero waste" is defined as diverting 90% or more of waste from ending up in the landfill. We measure waste diversion and other metrics in our annual Sustainability Report.
We do our part to thoroughly understand what’s in our trash bins. But in order to maintain our certification, we need another set of eyes to verify our zero waste practices and numbers. BRING is a valuable resource in our community and serves that role. As one of the nation’s oldest nonprofit recycling programs, they encourage people to think about what they use and employ creative solutions to keep materials out of the landfill.
Since 2011, Mountain Rose has been a certified BRING RE:think business, undergoing an assessment and consultation every two years to reduce waste and maximize energy efficiency. BRING conducted a specialized waste assessment in 2017 and another in 2019; they jumped into our dumpsters to sort 504 pounds of trash and recycling from our seven different facilities located around Eugene, Oregon. The information we gleaned was helpful to improve our waste management plan!
MOVING FORWARD WITH ZERO WASTE
We will be the first to admit that being absolutely zero waste throughout our supply chain is a big, audacious goal. We envision a circular economy that not only rejects the “take, make, waste” business model, but one that is regenerative. With that said, waste from packaging is a major concern for us and our customers.
The regrettable truth is that we haven’t found the perfect packaging option for all our products. We opt for recycled content, reusable, and lightweight material whenever possible, guided by our Environmentally Preferable Packaging Policy. Our goal is to keep your organic goodies fresh and safe during transit while minimizing weight and bulk to reduce the carbon footprint of our shipping. After much consideration, the lightweight, plastic, flexible packaging is currently our best available option for herbs. Be assured, you can count on us to stay tuned in to sustainable packaging innovation and collaboration within the herbal industry.
We were honored to collaborate with Ann Armbrecht, Director of Sustainable Herbs Program (SHP), on a case study of our zero waste practices. We discuss our waste management plan, the journey to becoming a TRUE Zero Waste certified facility, and challenges we face when trying to keep materials out of the landfill. SHP partners with the American Botanical Council to support high quality herbal remedies, sustainable and ethical sourcing, and greater transparency in the herbal industry. Learn more about SHP and read The Journey to Zero Waste.
The Earth is what we all have in common. -Wendell Berry
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