Chicago-based Mid America Paper Recycling, one of the largest independent brokers, processors and exporters of recovered paper in the Central U.S., is launching an initiative focused on tracking and increasing the value of the recycling waste streams generated by large commercial printers and paperboard converters.
“The folding carton industry, for example, shipped about 5 million tons of product last year,” says Paul Pirkle, president of Mid America Paper Recycling. “We work closely with these operators and all companies that recycle waste paper to create a continuous improvement process that helps them identify where waste is generated, establish key collection procedures, and set objectives that will continually improve their waste stream’s revenue contribution to the business.”
According to Mid America executives, the manufacturing operations of a typical paper or containerboard plant can generate thousands of tons of preconsumer, high-grade recyclable paper, production trim waste and paperboard waste annually, which in turn, can generate significant revenues for the company.
Mid America’s new recycling management program helps producers build a scorecard process by benchmarking, monitoring and continuously upgrading their recycling operations to help them reach their sustainability goals and grow the financial worth of their waste, Mid America Paper Recycling reports in a news release about the initiative.
“No other company has offered as comprehensive and value-added a solution until now,” Pirkle adds. “We understand the challenges and shortcomings companies face in dealing with recycling vendors, equipment, labor and transportation issues. Recyclable materials can be wasted, which doesn’t meet anyone’s environmental goals or boost revenue. But they can also be a significant value-added contributor to the recycler’s profitability if professionally managed. We perform onsite customer assessments and reviews to help them learn how to effectively manage these materials and help them exceed their expectations.”
Online waste audit survey
The first step in Mid America Paper Recycling’s continuous improvement process is its new, free Waste Audit Survey. The survey takes 10 minutes for customers to fill out online, but it is also comprehensive ins cope. Customers can also launch the survey on their smartphones via a QR code to take it immediately.
Serving as an initial “recycling health scorecard,” the survey results help Mid America Paper Recycling determine how each customer captures and recycles waste materials, as well as what’s working and what’s not.
“The audit concept was based on an in-depth voice of customer study we conducted to better understand the challenges our customers face,” Pirkle says. “Continuous improvement is so important to organizations today in many other areas of their operations, so this audit was designed to bring this same strategic process to their current waste handling practices and build a smart program that continuously improves the worth of their waste.”
Responses to the survey questions are associated with a point scale and averaged into five categories to achieve a scale percentage. This determines an overall waste assessment grade for the customer’s “recycling health,” which the company uses to create an individual recycling plan that maximizes facility efficiency, safety, and updates employee training procedures.
The audit taxonomy assesses areas, including:
● current operating procedures;
● organizational goals;
● frequency of recycling reports issued, reviewed and updated;
● waste volumes;
● how customers train staff to maintain safety, logistics, handling and efficiencies;
● revenues and financial goals;
● level of service received;
● equipment and labor involved;
● continuous improvement objectives; and
● safety, preventative maintenance programs in place.
The customer “scorecard” is just the beginning of the quality initiative. After taking the survey, Mid America Paper Recycling’s team of experts then develops a custom plan to improve such aspects as the flow of waste through a customer’s facilities, eliminate cost streams, conserve and capture the most value possible. The customer receives a free report, and a plan tailored to upgrade their recycling processes and increase revenue growth.
Next, Mid America Paper Recycling proceeds with follow-up conversations, onsite visits, mill assessments to match the best one to each paper grade, quarterly reviews on flow reports, rates, payments, recycling values and logistics coordination.
Progress in terms of revenues and environmental impacts are also tracked every step of the way, and the data is fed throughout the customer’s operation through regular management reports.
“We find every angle available to minimize waste and maximize returns, support customers by optimizing services and improve training, safety and value, with the visibility and transparency the operation needs,” Pirkle says. “Our vision is to become a significant value-added contributor to the paper converter’s waste generation profitability.”