Environmental Intelligence Outsmarts Traditional Obstacles
How can we recycle paper at all North American FedEx Office locations? It’s a seemingly simple question, but in reality, it is a complex challenge. With innovation, determination, and green intelligence (we call our green thinking “EarthSmart”), FedEx Office was able to create a sustainable solution for our paper waste recycling needs.
When I started researching the history and current state of our paper recycling program at FedEx Office, I learned it’s easier said than done. We needed to have a stronger program in place to meet our sustainability goals. I discovered that we had the attitude of, “where we can recycle, we do.” So, I declared a war on waste that evolved into a “Recycling Revolution.”
So what is the challenge? As I mentioned before, FedEx Office leases all of its locations and as a result, it is not possible to recycle in some places due to space constraints or other property restrictions. Also, the recycling infrastructure is not available or is unstable in many cities, a greatly misunderstood and underestimated obstacle.
On a recent bus ride from a sustainability conference, I was reaffirming the traditional obstacles with a business colleague. As I looked out the window, we passed by one of our many FedEx Office locations and my eyes locked in on a dumpster in the parking lot. Suddenly, I got an idea.
I decided to take a more strategic approach and think outside the dumpster, so to speak. Out of this determination was born a plan for building our own independent recycling infrastructure. We created our own opportunities by reaching out to nontraditional players in this space. We found a company that was a good match for us, so we decided to execute. The challenge was to implement paper recycling and shredding at all FedEx Office locations in the U.S. and Canada, eventually reaching remote Alaska as the last frontier. Thanks to the teamwork and commitment of numerous departments within FedEx Office, the program was fully deployed in an astonishing three months.
Today, all FedEx Office locations in North America have the opportunity to recycle paper. In addition, customers have the additional benefit of knowing our paper waste is securely shredded before being recycled. This is all part of our FedEx Paper Recycling Program, which has earned our highest EarthSmart designation for meeting strict, quantifiable environmental standards.
The recycling occurs within our four walls. FedEx Office locations can have up to five containers to house their paper waste as it awaits secure shredding and recycling service. The containers range in size and style from a small console that will hold up to approximately 70 lbs of paper waste to a larger bin with a capacity of approximately 210 pounds. Five of the larger bins together can hold more than 1,000 pounds of paper, an environmental equivalent of almost nine trees.
The FedEx Paper Recycling program gives us the opportunity to be better environmental stewards, overcome traditional obstacles, and provide a consistent paper recycling opportunity for all FedEx Office locations in North America.
So, what’s next for FedEx Office? Reducing waste continues to be a focus. We are building a culture of “waste watchers” and strive to make sure every job is done right the first time, on time, thus making us more efficient and creating less waste.
Even more promising is the digital frontier. Expanded digital service offerings allow FedEx Office to further our environmental and sustainability goals. Examples include FedEx Office® Print Online and FedEx Office® Print & Go.
I’m proud of our success so far and excited about what the future holds. The creativity and innovation that can be sparked from a simple question is amazing. Stay tuned for our next EarthSmart accomplishment.