How NWA Boosted Barnes & Noble’s Nationwide Recycling Rates, Saving Costs and Carbon Footprint

The major bookseller Barnes & Noble was struggling to get its numerous locations to divert sufficient waste from landfill, recycling only 30% of its total waste tonnage. NWA’s waste management experts worked closely with the client to identify the best recycling strategy for each store, tailoring each one to their specific waste streams, volumes, and locations.

Over seven years, NWA increased the client’s landfill diversion by 67%, providing Barnes & Noble with significant financial savings while also reducing their environmental impact.

Key Project Metrics:

  • Waste diversion rates increased to 50%
  • $160,000 saving over 3 years
  • Saved an additional 50,000 metric tons of CO2 per year
  • Equivalent of removing 11,000 cars from the road

The Client

Barnes & Noble is a Fortune 500 company with over 600 retail stores and distribution centers located across 50 states. It is the largest national bookstore chain in the United States and their online channel is one of the Internet’s premier e-commerce sites.

The Challenge

As of 2007, Barnes & Noble was recycling only 30% of its waste. Corporate recognized that they needed to reduce their carbon footprint, and so undertook a major ‘Go Green’ initiative that included the goal of increasing their waste diversion rate.

The organization was already recycling cardboard and paper but needed to take its recycling efforts to the next level in order to improve their environmental performance and to benefit from significant cost savings.

The Solution

NWA completed location optimization surveys to calculate the percentage and composition of waste that was available for recycling at each site. Using this information, we identified the most efficient recycling strategy for each store location.

Our team of waste management experts screened the vendors that serviced the client across all of their locations. We ascertained where single stream recycling was an available option, and then created lists of acceptable materials for each of the qualifying vendors.

For some locations, single stream recycling wasn’t available. In these instances, NWA found alternative recycling companies that would be able to take over the services so that our client could achieve the greatest waste diversion and cost savings.

The recycling service was customized based on the needs of each location, market availability, and ease of use. NWA also provided the stores with educational information to support the new waste management strategy, teaching employees how to recycle effectively.

Our team constantly reviews the recycling market to identify new opportunities for stores to recycle. Locations are regularly revisited to ascertain whether a further change would be beneficial to their environmental and financial performance.

The Results

Over seven years, National Waste Associates helped Barnes & Noble to achieve a 67% improvement in their waste diversion rate. This resulted in an annual saving of over 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 11,000 cars off the road. In 2017 alone, the increase in recycling rates prevented over 13,000 tons of waste from being sent to landfill, instead diverting valuable materials for recycling.

By increasing waste diversion rates together with implementing strategies to right size the waste and recycling collections to actual tonnages, NWA was able to save Barnes & Noble more than $160,000 over a three-year period.

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