Achieving Zero Waste to Landfill1
In 2012, Whirlpool Corporation officially established a zero waste to landfill goal for all of our global manufacturing facilities by 2022. To meet this goal, we are seeking waste management alternatives, such as reducing, reusing, recycling, composting, and, as a last alternative, incinerating. Our journey to zero waste to landfill helped us reach a recycling rate exceeding 96% in 2019, with plants in India, EMEA, and Latin America leading the way. Our recycling rate is best-in-class among global appliance manufacturers. Additionally, eight of our global manufacturing facilities achieved zero waste status, including three in EMEA, two in India, and three in Brazil. These improvements reflect not only robust waste diversion processes, but also increased awareness and sharing of information among Whirlpool Corporation employees.
In 2019, we conducted a zero waste to landfill pilot at our Findlay, Ohio plant, starting with an internal audit of possible recycling opportunities. The findings led to a program to recycle personal protective equipment (PPE) such as earplugs and sleeves that employees are required to wear while working on the factory floor. Through its efforts, the Findlay team was able to divert a significant amount of PPE from landfill within months.
Our Cleveland, Tennessee, and Tulsa, Oklahoma plants performed investigative “dumpster dives” to better understand the waste being sent to landfills. After finding many items made from recyclable cardboard and plastic being thrown away, teams launched an awareness campaign and assigned an employee to help separate recyclable materials, resulting in a significant increase in the recycling rate.
In Mexico, multiple plants reduced over 15 tons of waste each year by replacing plastic packaging for parts with returnable options. Some of the plants also sent organic waste to a compost facility, while our Supsa plant rerouted contaminated materials to a heat recovery process that turns waste into energy. Additionally, all rags and cleaning supplies used in our plastics plant are now sent through a washing process and then reused, and our Ramos plant began an office paper reuse program to reduce administrative waste. Together, these projects led to a 13% reduction in waste to landfill for all Mexico sites.
Many of our EMEA sites continue to move beyond zero waste to landfill to reduce and reuse their waste. At our Wroclaw, Poland site, approximately 60 tons of plastic waste from injection molding, extruders, and thermoforming is sent to recycling each year. Additionally, plastic waste is sent to a plastic grinder, then mixed with raw material to cut down on the need for new plastic for production, leading to 95% of scrapped plastic components being remilled and reused with raw materials. The result: 57 tons of plastic reused each year.
While several of our facilities in Latin America have achieved and maintained zero waste to landfill since 2015, plants continue to improve waste management procedures by following the WCM principle of 5Rs: Recover, Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, and Refuse. Our teams are encouraged to follow the methodology by rerouting wastes from landfill to recycling or heat recovery. Then, wastes can be reused or reduced and, finally, materials that may become waste are refused, or kept from entering our facilities. Our Latin America plants invested in logistical improvements in 2019 and found new suppliers that helped reduce the amount of waste being incinerated by 90%. Today, only medical waste is sent to incineration, while all other types of waste are reused or recycled.
WCM Principle of 5Rs