GREEN: Boyer's: Looking outside of the box at waste, recyclables

Column by Jennie Nevin

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By Jennie Nevin, Green Route
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How did Boyer's, a medium-sized coffee company based in Denver, reduce its waste disposal by 97 percent over 5 years, keeping a projected 70 tons out of the landfill and in the process save $250,000 annually?

Boyer's is a great example of the new economy. A economy where all of the "waste" produced is actually an asset when used in the right place. Boyer's Coffee is delivered in burlap sacks. These sacks are not recyclable but they are a great resource for gardeners and arborists. Farmers will pick them up for no extra charge to use them as weed barriers, to wrap the root ball of trees for transportation and to carry soil and compost. Ecologic Designs, a company based in Boulder, also makes tote bags and donates a portion of the proceeds to the Children's Miracle network.

Over 2 tons of chaff comes off their beans each year. This chaff is great for farmers as a mulch since it is so high in nitrogen. It also can be used to make wood pellets for starting stoves.

The foil that their roasted coffee is bagged in cannot be recycled. A company called ITW, a manufacturer of a products that provide rigidity and protection in the packaging of products, can use this packaging and picks it up free of charge.

By finding the right partners, Boyer's was able to create value and reduce waste disposal expenses by $2,000 a year. How did Boyers go from saving $24,000 a year to saving $250,000 a year?

Through this conscientious thought process, it began to look at its packaging. The name of the blend was printed directly on the bag. Every time a new blend or flavor was being packaged, 12-15 bags could no longer be used. Instead of printing directly on the bag, Boyer's started printing out stickers to be put on the bags.

Not only did this save in materials, it also saved in labor and overhead to not have to switch bags each time. Boyer's began stocking only the films it used every day, which greatly simplified the bagging process, reducing time and labor while also reducing carrying costs by $200,000.

The boxes that were being delivered to Walmart and Sam's Club were not allowed to leave once they were delivered. Boyer's met with Walmart and Sam's Club to change this policy. Each box now is used five or six times, saving about $50,000 annually. Boyer's is looking to go even further with this initiative and invest in corrugated plastic, which can be reused 300 times, saving an additional $50,000 annually.

Boyer's has reduced its solid waste by more than 97 percent and saved more than 400 tons of CO2. Its employees have been open to these programs and all have their eyes open on ways to save on waste. By keeping waste out of the landfill, Boyer's is reducing manufacturing and natural resource destruction by allowing its partners to reuse materials for their businesses. Boyer's demonstrates that a more thoughtful use of resources can save money, too.

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