Some of the most innovative waste reduction programs in the nation were on display at the annual Mecklenburg County Wipe Out Waste Ambassador Business Recognition Awards Banquet on Oct. 22.
Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners Chair Pat Cotham presented the awards.
The Ambassador Program was created by Mecklenburg County Solid Waste to recognize and reward County businesses that are committed to building a strong community while fostering environmental stewardship to reduce, reuse and recycle waste in the workplace.
Joey’s Truck Repair – Sustainable Small Business of the Year
- Heavy vehicle and automotive repair shop.
- Certified by Napa as a Certified Green Garage.
- They have a comprehensive recycling program addressing not only single stream materials such as paper, cardboard, aluminum and plastic containers, but also tires, oil filters, scrap metal and batteries.
- Waste oils and transmission fluids are utilized in their clean burn heater to heat their work space. When the waste oils exceed their heating needs, they recycle the excess and the proceeds are donated to the Wounded Warriors “Flags Across the Nation: Blankets for Recovery” effort.
- Joey’s is a county-publicized waste oil disposal site for other shops and mechanics as well.
The Links at Citiside Apartment Homes – Outstanding Multi-Family Sustainability Program
- Provide energy-efficient and environmentally friendly affordable rental housing.
- Participated in Coke’s Recycle and Win pilot program for multi-family developments, through which they provided free recycling bags to current residents. However, they continued this program on their own, providing all new and renewing residents with additional recycling bags.
- Besides standard recycling services, Links also maintains CFL recycling boxes that are open to residents.
- In an effort to buy more environmentally friendly products, they started using low-VOC paint, carpeting that contained 37% corn and Green Choice cleaning products.
- Plans for the future include a community garden and on-site composting program.
The Orange Olive Hair Gallery – Commercial Drop-Off Center of the Year
- Local hair salon that has hosted one of the County’s free recycling drop-off centers since 2011.
- They promote the availability of their recycling facility to the public on a regular basis, distributing flyers to local businesses and attending meetings, such as the NoDa Greenification Teams.
- Orange Olive makes sure excess hair is not wasted, participating with Locks of Love and sending in shorter hair remnants to be used to make hair-mats to soak up excess oil from oil spills.
- In the spirit of buying green, they carry an eco-friendly product line and allow customers to bring in old product bottles to be refilled at a 10% discount.
- As a team, the salon participates in an annual fundraiser called Sustainable Beauty Day, which is a partnership with the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation.
Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte – Outstanding Construction Recycling Program
- A nonprofit affordable housing agency that provides housing opportunities for low income families through new home building, critical home repair and weatherization of existing homes.
- Every new home Habitat builds (there are approximately 30 per year) achieves, at a minimum, LEED Silver Certification. They are currently building their first LEED Platinum Certified home.
- Through their on-site construction waste management and recycling operations, Habitat recycles over 1,850 tons of materials per year.
- Through donations and sales at the Habitat ReStore, 3.8 million pounds of material is kept out of local landfills.
- Habitat Charlotte is committed to using green building and office products when possible including Forest Service Council certified woods, recycled paper, recycled insulation, low flow water fixtures, low VOC paints and stains, recycled content gypsum board, longer life shingles, durable siding, durable flooring with low VOC adhesive, Green Label Plus carpet and padding, environmentally friendly office cleaning supplies and CFL light bulbs.
Earth Farms Organics – Sustainable Recycling Service Provider of the Year
- Compost facility that provides organics pick-up and recycling services.
- They recycle over 1,000,000 gallons of grease trap waste per month and divert over 100,000 tons of waste from the landfill each year, turning it into rich compost and soil amendment for the landscaping and agricultural markets.
- Earth Farms donated over 500 yards of compost to area schools for their school gardens.
- By growing their own organic produce on-site using their product, they are able to show that there is an alternative to chemicals and fertilizers.
- Earth Farms places an emphasis on educating the community about composting and recycling, holding composting seminars at local schools and businesses.
Whole Foods Market – Outstanding Waste Reduction & Recycling Program
- Grocery store supporting natural and organic foods and products.
- By utilizing local vendors to provide recycling and composting for customers and staff, they are working toward their goals of 90% waste diversion by 2014.
- They provide compostable container, coffee cups, utensils and napkins in their food service areas and donate overstock to local food share and food rescue programs seven days a week.
- The store has collection points where customers can deposit other recyclable materials, including #5 plastics, cell phones, corks and Whole Foods Market gift cards.
- To coincide with Earth month, Whole Foods hosted a Green Cleaning product swap, which helped to educate customers about the ingredients in their cleaners and the transparency they bring to the cleaning products they sell in the store using the Eco-Scale.
Sponsors included Plyler Paper Stock, All-Points Waste Services, Custom Recycling, Earth Farms Organics, HDR Engineering Inc. of the Carolinas, International Paper, Junk Rescue and O'Leary Group Waste Systems.
For scenes from the event and photos of the winners, click here