Today is Earth Day. For 24 hours, the world unites in a renewed commitment towards the long-term sustainability of our planet.
But this cause deserves much more than a single day’s attention. It requires daily commitment, strong leadership and large, organizational structures in place for wide-scale success.
At The Brick, environmental sustainability is something that we practice every day, in all parts of our business. Like Saving You More, going green is one of our obsessions.
So how have we done so far? In 2015, between our 220 stores, our corporate office and our six distribution centres (DCs), as a company we were able to divert 65% of our waste. Our DCs alone diverted 78% of waste, with some even diverting over 90%. And we’re as proud of that as we are proudly Canadian!
When it comes to achieving long-term success, every choice matters.
The Project Green Strategy
Nearly 10 years ago, The Brick first implemented our “Project Green” strategy. The program was intended to have an immediate positive impact on the environment as well as set the stage for future initiatives that would allow The Brick to become a retail leader in environmental sustainability.
Project Green fits directly into our core values: By keeping our waste in check, we are able to keep costs low and continue to offer great prices on household products, as well as continue to be a strong community partner and global citizen. This initiative also affects every level of our business. From the decision to print a document to what to do with an old stove, every team member owns part of this solution.
Along with our ongoing initiatives to retrofit our facilities and transportation infrastructure, our biggest success so far has come through our recycling program.
What materials do we recycle?
Through a mix of our own machinery, third-party partners and government incentives, The Brick is able to recycle the vast majority of our product packaging and divert waste from the local landfills. And each year we continue to adopt new ways to reuse or repurpose even more materials.
Some of the items we recycle include:
- Expanded polystyrene
- Pallets and wood products
- Office waste
But four of our common waste products stand out from the pack.
Those big refrigerator boxes add up! Making up nearly a quarter of our total waste weight distribution, cardboard is our most recycled material.
All Brick distribution centres recycle cardboard. By recycling 3,442 metric tons of cardboard in 2015, we saved:
- 56,551 trees
- 579,146 litres of crude oil
- 1,280,708 kWh of electricity
- 29,980 cubic yards of landfill space
According to our Project Green partners, each ton (2,000 lb.) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings and a 60-pound reduction of air pollution.
Most plastics take over 500 years to decompose at the landfill. I don’t know about you, but that’s longer than we’re willing to wait.
The Brick has invested in a polystyrene densifier that converts plastic materials into ingot form, which is then pelletized and reformed into a raw material for many consumer products, including picture frames, plastic casings and construction mouldings.
Are your deck or flower beds made up of composite lumber? It’s possible that these boards were made in Canada with recycled plastic from The Brick.
By recycling 280 metric tons of plastic in 2015, we saved:
- 1,496,477 litres of gasoline
- 41,906 litres of crude oil
- 1,492 cubic yards of landfill space
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)
You can’t throw it into your blue bags, but did you know that expanded polystyrene (the white packaging material often confused for Styrofoam™) can be recycled? In partnership with the INTCO Group, The Brick is able to repurpose this product packaging and re-expand it into picture frames, countertops and other household items.
In 2015, The Brick was able to recycle 245 metric tons of EPS.
Old mattresses that cannot be donated for hygienic reasons are recycled through our Project Green initiative, too. Mattresses are treated for bugs, stripped, baled and then the foam and cloth is shipped to be processed into bedding or carpet underlay. The reclaimed wood is reused to make particle board, while recovered metal springs are smelted and then eventually repurposed into car parts.
In 2015, The Brick was able to recycle 959 metric tons of mattresses.
Awards and Recognition
Since the full roll-out of Project Green, The Brick has been recognized by many of Canada’s environmental societies. Quebec granted us their highest accreditation for recycling. The Recycling Council of Ontario gave us a Gold Award in 2013. The Mississauga DC was given a lengthy profile in the Canadian Retailer Magazine for achievements in sustainability.
Read the article: The Brick – Leaders in Retail and Sustainability
It’s a true honour to be recognized for something that is so closely tied to our core values, something each and every one of our Brick family members contribute toward on a daily basis. This is a credit to the daily hard work and smart choices of the entire company, even during the other 364 days of the year when Earth Day isn’t a special focus.
Environmental sustainability is not only 100% achievable; it is entirely in keeping with The Brick Way of doing things.