May 22, 2007 17:09 ET

Organizations Are Missing Huge Opportunity to Divert Trash From Landfills and Benefit the Bottom Line, New GREEN Study Finds

Comprehensive Thought Leadership Initiative, "Garbage Is a Terrible Thing to Waste," to Be Unveiled on Free Webcast

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 22, 2007 -- Caught between mountains of garbage and a rapidly shrinking number of landfills to put it in, organizations are facing increasing pressure to find viable alternatives that both meet business needs and address environmental issues. And even when those alternatives are available, and organizations are aware of them, the changes are painfully slow in coming. That's the sobering conclusion reached in "Garbage Is a Terrible Thing to Waste," a comprehensive report from the Global Renewable Energy and Environmental Network (GREEN), underwritten by BioSystem Solutions. The study quantifies the current processes for waste management and highlights potential benefits of better managing biodegradable waste streams.

The findings will also be discussed on a webcast hosted by GREEN tomorrow, May 23, at 2pm EDT/11am PDT. Interested parties are invited to sign up at:

Discussing the critical biodegradable waste trends on the webcast will be:

--  George Denise, General Manager, Cushman & Wakefield (at Adobe Systems'
    Bay Area campuses)
--  Dr. Norm Lownds, Professor, Michigan State University and Curator for
    the 4-H Children's Gardens
--  Peter Scharfglass, Chief Executive Officer, BioSystem Solutions
"Waste management obviously isn't a glamorous subject, but it's one that organizations can no longer ignore," said Eric Gertsman, Director of GREEN, a business-minded affinity group committed to advocating sustainability solutions. "As America quickly runs out of space to dump its garbage, organizations should be considering several viable alternatives to alleviate the sting of rising costs while facing up to tough environmental realities. Yet they're not making the necessary changes fast enough, or at all, and they're going to pay a higher price later."

The GREEN study includes a survey of hundreds of professionals working in operations, facilities management and environmental/sustainable management, as well as in-depth interviews with experts on waste management at a number of diverse and well-respected organizations: Chiquita Brands International, the City of Los Angeles, Cushman & Wakefield, John Deere Agri Services, Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, Michigan State University, Miller Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewery, Science Application International Corporation (SAIC), Starbucks, University of Minnesota and Yum! Brands.

Top-level survey findings include:

--  Roughly 51 percent believe that their organizations spend "a lot" on
    waste management, but of this group, 73 percent are resigned to fact that
    these high prices are to be expected.
--  Only 26 percent of respondents say they are aggressively exploring new
    or innovative waste management options, with another 51 percent casually
    doing so.
--  Respondents' two greatest concerns about landfills are groundwater
    contamination (53 percent) and the fact that many landfills are reaching
    capacity (27 percent).
--  Respondents compost an average of 9 percent of their total waste
    despite the fact that industry estimates show that about 70 percent of
    waste can on average be composted.  Well over half the respondents have no
    clue that it is possible to efficiently compost the majority of their waste
--  Only 7 percent call themselves "extremely knowledgeable" about the
    composting process, but another 48 percent believe they have a "good
    general understanding" of it.
--  Opinions about composting are all over the map, but fortunately
    "environmentally responsible" (57 percent) heads the list.  Completing the
    top five are less glowing endorsements, saying that composting "is not the
    right fit for my organization" (36 percent), "takes too much time and
    effort" (28 percent), "requires too much space" (26 percent), and "involves
    bad odors" (23 percent).
--  Composting ranks a lackluster ninth out of the eleven most important
    environmental topics for organizations.  The obvious leader is "energy
    conservation," followed by "general recycling," the "use of less harmful
    chemicals," "solid waste reduction," and "water conservation."
"In the past, due to a lack of technology, ample space and labor, in addition to the slow and odorous nature of traditional methods, composting largely fell out of favor," said Pete Scharfglass, CEO of BioSystem Solutions. "With the advance of new technologies, however, it is now possible for composting to occur in both urban and rural settings in a manner that can be clean and cash-flow positive."

The need is definitely there. In 1980 there were approximately 20,000 landfills nationwide; today, there are less than 1,600 (U.S. EPA), a staggering drop of 92%. Alternatives like interstate garbage hauling and incineration have introduced other negative environmental consequences, including increased carbon emissions.

GREEN ( received general advice and valuable assistance fielding the survey from the following organizations: International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IAMA), StopWaste.Org, Green@Work Magazine, Facility Managers Institute News, Food Management Magazine and MSW Management Magazine.

Contact Information

  • For more information, please contact:
    Eric Gertsman
    Director, GREEN
    Email Contact