The maker of athletic wear and intimate apparel, which sells under brands including Fruit of the Loom, Vanity Fair, Russell Athletic, Spalding and Brooks, said its biggest challenge was disposing of food and miscellaneous waste.
But it successfully managed to find uses for all waste materials, the company said. Whatever isn’t reused or recycled is sent to a local compost facility and garden, or used by a waste-to-energy facility.
To achieve landfill-free status, the Palmetto Distribution Center created a Green Team, which focused on making sure all recyclable materials such as cardboard, baled stretch wrap, miscellaneous plastics, cores and office paper were collected. Fluorescent lights were crushed in a secure manner and sent off for recycling, while batteries were sent for recycling through an approved vendor, the company said.
The Palmetto Distribution Center also works with vendors to ensure that their pallets are reused internally.
For its efforts, Fruit of the Loom won a “gold star award” from Sonoco, which recycles all of the company’s cardboard, plastics and paper.
Through its Sonoco Sustainability Solutions consulting service, Sonoco is helping a number of customers cut landfill waste. For example, Unilever’s Tipton Tea plant in Suffolk, Va., became a zero landfill facility in 2009 after working with Sonoco to identify recycling alternatives for develop a more comprehensive recycling program.
More recently, Sonoco client Kraft announced it has 36 facilities in 13 countries that send zero waste to landfills.
Last July Sonoco announced a goal of moving five of its own U.S. manufacturing plants to virtually landfill-free status by the end of 2011, and making 10 percent of its manufacturing operations landfill-free by 2015.