The old adage “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” sure rings true for a North Carolina-based earth friendly natural personal care products company. In 2008, employees from Burt’s Bees took part in Dumpster Day, an event held to educate employees about waste reduction.
Trash destined for the landfill was collected for two weeks and divided into three categories – items that should have been recycled but were not, things that should be recycled and garbage. With about five tons of stockpiled trash dumped onto the parking lot, employees donned Hazmat suits and dove in to find out what they could dig up.
The hands-on event was a definite “ah-ha moment” for all involved. It was apparent the company was not taking full advantage of various recycling opportunities. Dumpster Day saved approximately 2.8 tons of trash from landfills. And according to Greenbiz, the lessons learned from the dumpster diving experiment resulted in a 50 percent reduction in waste, saving the company around $25,000 annually!
Burt’s Bees Sustainability Efforts
Until 2007, the company only recycled glass, aluminum, mixed plastics and white paper. Today, wood, corrugated cardboard, shrink wrap chipboard and fiberboard are part of Burt’s Bees recycling effort. Shrink wrap has been discontinued on the company’s best-selling lip balm and lip shimmer products, eliminating 1,800 miles of plastic shrink wrap from landfills. Burt’s Bees soaps are now wrapped in TerraSkin, a treeless substance made from minerals that are completely recyclable. Composting bins are available in the break rooms and compostable utensils made out of potatoes are also available.
The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation is one way the company gives back. Ten percent of revenue earned online is given to organizations for the good of the environment and the people.
Burt’s Bee Goals
Sustainability goals for the company include operating on 100 percent renewable energy and eliminating all waste sent to landfills by 2020. Other goals include all facilities be LEED-certified and 100 percent employee engagement in sustainability. And by 2020, all product formulas will be 100 percent natural. Currently, half of the Burt’s Bees products are 100 percent natural.
Founded in a one-room schoolhouse in 1989 by bearded beekeeper Burt Shavitz and single mom and struggling artist Roxanne Quimby, the company was acquired by Clorox for more than $900 million in 2007.