Mountain Rose Herbs has achieved a Zero Waste Facility Certification from Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). It is the first Oregon-based company to received certification, scoring Platinum status, the highest level of certification. Companies awarded zero waste certification have to divert at least 90 percent of all non-hazardous waste from landfills and incineration.
A company that offers organic herbs and spices, Mountain Rose adopted a zero waste policy in 2007. Back then, the company would empty a dumpster about four to five times monthly, but after launching the zero waste policy, it empties the same dumpster once a month. After adopting the zero waste policy, it went from producing 3,000 to 5,000 gallons of waste a month to 70 to 80 gallons a month. By 2015, it diverted over 96 percent of its waste from landfill.
One of the essential parts of achieving zero waste certification is getting employees involved. As Alyssa Lawless, Director of Sustainability for Mountain Rose Herbs told Justmeans, “Every employee plays a role.” Their purchasing and procurement staff members “focus on upstream management, working closely with vendors to reduce waste and unnecessary packaging at the source,” she added.
Sustainability is part of how Mountain Rose Herbs operates. “Zero waste is one part of our company philosophy,” said Lawless.
The company “strives to cut all waste production by rethinking and redesigning our operational procedures to create a more dynamic approach to product design, resource recovery, and recycling.” The facilities staff “works tirelessly” to divert waste that comes into the company’s building by upcylcling reusable materials, composting food and plant matter, and recycling whatever is leftover.
There are specific actions taken by Mountain Rose Herbs to transition to a zero waste company. Recycling is key. The company recycles all used paper hand towels so a local business can recycle them. All office paper, press board and scrap paper is recycled. All tin, steel, aluminum, iron and scrap metal is sorted for either collection or recycling. All scrap plastic is reclaimed by a local facility and melted down into material that is reused.
Mountain Rose partners with community organizations and other local companies to help divert its waste from landfill. Some examples of partnerships include:
• Donating gently used furniture and building materials to BRING Recycling.
• Donating toilet paper rolls and twist ties to Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts.
• Sending Styrofoam and 60 gallon plastic drums to St. Vincent de Paul recycling center.
• Sending old and broken electronics to NextStep Recycling.
• Sending unusable carrier oils and essential oils to SeQuential Biofuels.
Diverting waste from landfill is not the only part of the company’s sustainability program. Mountain Rose is 100 percent powered by renewable energy through a 25 kilowatt hour (kWh) solar array and by participating in a local utility company’s GreenPower program. The solar array will offset an estimated 470 tons of carbon in its 35 year lifespan.
The company also encourages employees to use “alternative modes of transportation,” according to Lawless. They pay employees who carpool to work 25 cents a mile for each passenger, 15 cents a mile to ride the bus, and 25 cents a mile for those who bicycle or walk to work. Once a year, the employee who logs the most miles in each category is awarded $250.
Photo: Mountain Rose Herbs