BioCycle April 2005, Vol. 46, No. 4, p. 24
Through services to companies that range from material testing to strategic planning, King County, Washington views its LinkUp program as a key way to reach its Zero Waste of Resources goal.
IN 2000, King County, Washington launched its regional recycled materials market development program, LinkUp, to increase both the use of recycled materials in manufacturing and the purchase of recycled-content products. Since that time, LinkUp, sponsored by the King County Solid Waste Division of the Department of Natural Resources and Parks, has been using teams of experts – 21 in all – to provide technical and marketing assistance to selected manufacturers and material processors in the surrounding Puget Sound area as a strategy to improve the market for recycled materials generated in the county. LinkUp is unique in making available customized assistance designed to meet the needs of the businesses participating in the program. As many and varied as the recycled products and materials of the program partners, LinkUp services include conducting material and product testing, market research, material sourcing, and media campaigns; developing marketing materials such as brochures, case studies, and specification sheets; and facilitating business and strategic planning.
Recognized nationally for its progressive and innovative waste prevention, recycling, and sustainable development programs, King County is committed to achieving its goal of Zero Waste of Resources by the year 2030 through prevention, reuse, and reduction of solid wastes going into its landfill. Waste reduction and recycling are the highest priority of the viable solid waste management options, and the county is pursuing this goal aggressively. LinkUp, with its concentration on the market side of the recycling equation, is part of the county’s strategy to reach its Zero Waste of Resources goal. The program complements the county’s efforts to improve and increase collection of recyclables and encourage purchasing of recycled-content products to close the loop, which is essential to successful recycling.
Having conducted nearly 140 assistance projects since the inception of the program, the LinkUp team has delivered a wide range of expert services, which, according to the partners themselves, have increased sales and heightened customer and product awareness. In surveys conducted in October, 2004, 75 percent of businesses participating in LinkUp reported that the marketing support they received helped increase sales “moderately” or “significantly.” Cici Kelling, owner of LinkUp partner Big Shrimpy, credited the assistance the company received for contributing to about a 20 percent increase in sales of products.
Nearly all partners surveyed (91 percent) reported that participation in the program gave their business added credibility among customers, suppliers, retailers, or peers. Chris Munford of partner business Bedrock Industries commented that “connections made through LinkUp have led to strong relationships with other recycled goods manufacturers, allowing [them] to better source raw materials as well as find new markets…”
A key indicator of how the program is performing is shown by the 85 percent of respondents reporting they used more recycled feedstock in their manufactured goods last year versus the previous year. Nearly 70 percent attributed some of that increase to support received from LinkUp. “Being part of the LinkUp program has allowed us to get more feedstock and diversify our offerings. LinkUp adds a layer of credibility; it’s been a good experience,” said Chris Freas of the TriVitro Corporation, a LinkUp partner since 2000. The results of the surveys, which were conducted to gauge program performance and partner satisfaction, were favorable overall, with many partners expressing their appreciation for the program.
A number of LinkUp program partners were profiled in BioCycle in March, 2003. The following are profiles of some of the partner businesses that have received LinkUp services more recently:
This manufacturer of pet products produces two lines of pet beds for dogs and cats. The beds pair soft fleece with nylon packcloth and are filled with fleece pieces salvaged from local clothing and outdoor gear manufacturers. Since 2002, the company has recycled more than 90,000 pounds of nylon fleece. Through design, and by using odor and water resistant and washable recycled textiles, Big Shrimpy hopes to reduce the cycle of “throw away and buy another” – a common fate for pet products. LinkUp worked with Big Shrimpy to develop a logo, tag line and product hang tags.
CEDAR GROVE COMPOSTING
A leader in organics recycling in the Pacific Northwest, this company is manufacturing compost from residual organic materials. The feedstocks for Cedar Grove’s product – yard debris, food and wood – are all among the materials King County has identified as priorities for recycling. In 2002, Cedar Grove processed nearly 190,000 tons of yard and food waste, and it has increased its capacity with a new facility in the Puget Sound region. It is using the Gore Cover In-Vessel System.
DURABLE PLASTIC DESIGN
Opening its doors for business in 2003, Durable Plastic Design has begun production of low-maintenance 100 percent recycled plastic lumber, under the brand name OrcaBoard, used to fabricate outdoor and garden products, including raised garden beds, planter boxes, Adirondack chairs, dock and pool boxes, commercial-grade benches, and picnic tables. OrcaBoard is produced in standard lumber sizes that are easy to work with using standard tools and fasteners. Owners estimate the company will use 140,000 pounds of recycled plastic each month, once the production line is at full capacity. LinkUp has developed promotional materials for the company’s fabricated products, and will be conducting a media campaign to launch OrcaBoard, as well as improving its catalog.
FOREST CONCEPTS, LLC
Founded in 1998, Forest Concepts develops and manufactures specialized wood products for habitat enhancement, threatened and endangered species protection, erosion control, environmental restoration, and landscape markets. The company’s latest product, WoodStraw™ spreadable wood strands, is an erosion control material, made in part from urban wood waste that could take the place of agricultural straw. WoodStraw strands can be made from several sources: small-diameter timber (less than seven inches in diameter) generated when tree stands are thinned; wood pieces left from construction projects; and waste wood from plywood veneer manufacturers. The product is particularly well suited for use in habitat restoration projects, such as forest fire recovery and replanting activities associated with construction projects. Working with Forest Concepts, LinkUp prepared preliminary research on the market status of agricultural straw, identified product certification and approval requirements relevant to erosion control materials in the Puget Sound area, and facilitated a focus group meeting to assist with product definition and specification.
TIGER MOUNTAIN INNOVATIONS
This start-up company manufactures a durable, lightweight stone-like countertop product, Squak Mountain Stone, which is a cement-based composite that uses about 65 percent recycled material, primarily mixed waste paper, fly ash, and granite dust. As the result of a press release announcing the company’s partnership with LinkUp, Tiger Mountain Innovations received significant media attention, due in part to the strong appeal of the countertop product and the growing popularity of green building materials for building and remodeling. Since Squak Mountain Stone was a new material, LinkUp assisted with material testing, which provided performance results used to secure an exclusive deal for retail and distribution.
One of the LinkUp program’s early partners, TriVitro uses recycled crushed glass to manufacture VitroHue® decorative tumbled glass and glass aggregates for use in terrazzo flooring, VitroGrit® blasting abrasives, and VitroClean® water filtration media. Originally, LinkUp provided services to help TriVitro raise awareness and boost acceptance of its blasting abrasives for paint removal and surface preparation, and increase its markets for tumbled glass. Currently, TriVitro is focusing on expanding the use of VitroClean filtration media, beyond its already established use for swimming pools, to industrial wastewater and storm water runoff treatment. To document those uses, the LinkUp team has developed two case studies and will be working on another for construction site runoff. The third case study will document a side-by-side demonstration to compare VitroClean with silica sand, the commonly used virgin filtration media.
Kris Beatty is the LinkUp program manager for the King County Solid Waste Division of the Department of Natural Resources and Parks in Seattle, Washington. She can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The LinkUp program website can be found at http://dnr/metrokc.gov/linkup.
April 15, 2005 | General
INCREASING SALES OF RECYCLED CONTENT PRODUCTS
BioCycle April 2005, Vol. 46, No. 4, p. 24