Goodwill® Aims to ‘Use Less, Serve More’

Goodwill Industries International (GII) and the Goodwill network have had a long history of environmental sustainability. Since its inception in 1902, GII has focused on recycling and reuse. In late 2007, GII launched a sustainability initiative, which has morphed into the current Goodwill Sustainability Program.

The objective of the program is to “Use Less, Serve More” (to serve more people while having a smaller environmental footprint), in support of the Goodwill mission. We focus on the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) of people, planet and prosperity. It is built on Goodwill’s value of environmental stewardship and designed to support the Goodwill network grow their internal sustainability programs through tools, best practices, and knowledge sharing.

There are a number of Goodwills across North America who have taken actions that align with the triple bottom line. Below are three such examples:

Reuse and recycling: Takes many forms, and can create jobs as well as helping the environment and the bottom-line.

Green Works offers cost-saving, labor-intensive asset recovery and industrial recycling services to socially conscious municipalities, utilities, automotive suppliers and manufacturers, as well as construction and demolition companies.  Green Works is a non-profit subsidiary of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit (MI) and creates revenue to fund vital job training, education and placement programs for those facing employment challenges in metro Detroit.

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State-of-the-art equipment and processes make the company an invaluable resource for sorting, refurbishing, recycling and reprocessing metals, oils and other industrial materials.  Green Works recycling processes result in “up-valuing” material such as aluminum/copper windings and wire for its clients. Green Works enhances value by processing and breaking down industrial recyclables into furnace-ready form. These materials are then sold in commodity markets for reuse in foundry/manufacturing processes.

Since its creation in 2010 through 2015, Green Works has recovered over 75 million pounds of ferrous and non-ferrous metals and over 400,000 gallons of used oil has been salvaged.

Sustainability in strategic planning: In order for sustainability to be adopted organization-wide, it is important to have strong leadership.

Goodwill Industries, Inc. Serving Eastern Nebraska and Southwestern Iowa (Omaha, NE) started incorporating sustainability principles in 2005 when they began building new stores using sustainability and green building standards. In addition, this Goodwill employs many millennials, who want to work with/in an organization that operates in a sustainable manner. This provided the organization’s leadership with more reasons to support sustainability.

The Omaha Goodwill began including sustainability directly into its planning to emphasize its importance in the organization’s operations. This required strong leadership and support from the Omaha Goodwill’s president and CEO, Frank McGree.  In June 2012, McGree sent a letter to the board of trustees and administrative staff outlining the upcoming strategic planning process. Four strategic goals were identified, one of which was sustainability, and specifically mentioned the Triple Bottom Line. Sustainability was thus incorporated into the 2013-2017 strategic plan.

‘Stewardship & Responsibility’ is also listed as one of the Omaha Goodwill’s values. The company aims to: “make wise and appropriate use of the financial, human and material resources entrusted to us; respect the environment.”

Working towards zero waste: Growth does not have to equal increased waste to landfill.

Arkansas Goodwill RecyclingGoodwill Industries of Arkansas (Little Rock) started with a small facility and small-scale sustainability opportunities; however, upon moving into a larger space and expanding across

Arkansas, they were able to significantly grow their sustainability efforts as well as see great improvements in both their environmental impacts and their revenues.

When the Goodwill first began their sustainability efforts in 2008, their facility was 60,000 square feet.

In 2012, the organization moved to a larger facility of over 500,000 square feet.  Headquarters was moved to the new Goodwill Resource Center in December 2014.  They implemented a recycling line, which processes 18 commodities (and counting!), such as textiles, plastics, metals, accessories, aluminum, kitchen metals, hard toys, soft toys, and wire and send these to different recycling vendors and outlets.  This implementation has been instrumental in eliminating waste and generating additional revenue for sustainability processes, and has allowed them to get closer to their goal of zero waste.

In the new space, they also opened up a 17,000 square foot “by the pound” outlet store.  With the outlet store diverting approximately 1.2 million pounds per year, it is the largest diverter of waste to landfill for the Goodwill.  With their new large space, they were able to expand recycling categories as well as increase their electronic waste recycling to include rural areas. They have also implemented new processes to increase landfill diversion, such as moving from centralized to decentralized donation processing and eliminating dumpsters at stores.

Chad Albaugh, Goodwill Industries of Arkansas’ director of operations shares, “With the added space and implementation of new processes, we have been able to make great strides in our efforts towards zero waste.  Just as important, we have been able to build strong partnerships within our state and are recognized as leaders in environmental stewardship.”