Waste Knot Success Stories

Waste Knot trash can

Since 1997, over 260 Washtenaw County businesses and organizations have been recognized as Waste Knot Partners for their waste reduction and recycling efforts. Charter members have discovered year after year that waste reduction opens the door to bottom-line savings. Here are some success stories of members, new and old:

Federal Correctional Institution of Milan

The Federal Correctional Institution of Milan is a charter member of Waste Knot that has been incorporating recycling and waste reduction efforts into their programs since 1998. With general prison security concerns, 390 staff members and 1456 inmates, keeping the facility "green" is no easy task. The FCI has a strong waste reduction program, including "green" office practices and waste oil recovery within its facility. Their recycling efforts are outstanding, with collection seven days a week and participation in both a pick-up and drop-off service.

The FCI diverts everything from scrap metal to fluorescent lights. FCI also encourages responsible waste practices by providing incentives to both its staff and inmates. Inmates working with the recycling program receive preferred eating times in meal rotation. FCI also provides employees with incentives to recycle by presenting "Special Acts Awards," which include monetary rewards for a successful recycling idea or active involvement in their Environmental Concerns meetings. This participation is taken into consideration in employee performance reviews. As a result of FCI's education efforts, staff have even increased recycling in their homes. Nationally, the FCI is the top waste reduction and recycling leader among the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Materials Unlimited of Ypsilanti

Materials Unlimited of Ypsilanti, a Waste Knot member since 1998, truly knows the "art" of recycling. Since 1974, Materials Unlimited has been salvaging architecturally significant items such as doors, hardware, woodwork, lighting fixtures, and details that would normally go to landfills. They specialize in restoring and refinishing these salvaged materials, making them more desirable for reuse. With a UL-certification, Materials Unlimited is licensed to fix and rewire old lighting that may have otherwise been thrown away. Materials Unlimited was the first building salvage operation in the area.

Apart from selling previously used items, Materials Unlimited operates its store according to a few basic reuse principles. For instance, shredded paper and Styrofoam are reused for packing material. In addition, Materials Unlimited helps perpetuate community recycling by sending business to Recycle Ann Arbor when they cannot use an item. Materials Unlimited is, by nature, a champion of reuse.

NSK Corporation of Ann Arbor

NSK Corporation of Ann Arbor is a charter member that has been working hard in waste reduction and recycling practices. NSK is a large ball and roller bearings manufacturer. NSK views their plant's 90% recycling ratio as both good business sense and good for the environment. The NSK plant recycles mop water, oil, cardboard and more. The plant uses water based coolants in their processes because it is easier to recycle and prolongs the life of their equipment. Power efficiency is also a top priority. The company's new building was designed with power efficient fixtures and systems.

NSK is also changing lights to more efficient types whenever possible. Even their corporate office follows "green" practices. Double-sided printing, email, and message-routing saves the company paper. Items including folders, boxes, and packing material are reused. NSK offices purchase recycled content file folders, cardboard boxes, and desktop organizers. Employees are educated about recycling and waste reduction through inter-office correspondence and specific instructions on recycling. In addition, NSK has been working to extend recycling efforts to all their national offices.

The City of Chelsea

The City of Chelsea government office has been a Waste Knot Partner since 2003. They have offered recycling to local residents for many year and saved thousands of dollars by picking up waste and recycling with City-owned vehicles instead of hauling waste through a private contractor. The City's administrative office reuses folders and paper items as well as kitchenware, toner cartridges, and packing material in addition to recycling:

  • Cell phones
  • Computers
  • Containers and packaging materials
  • Pallets
  • Paper materials
  • Scrap metal
  • Yard waste

They also participate in waste oil recovery to reduce hazardous waste sent to local landfills. The City buys recycled content paper products for their office operation and also purchases compost for landscaping. New employees are introduced to the recycling program and are reminded to continue recycling during their tenure with the City.