Green, But Not With Envy
Last year I visited Berlin with my family. For an entire week we toured the classic European streets of this special city, which offers a wealth of culture, art, music, colorfulness, and above all, fresh air minus the July-August heat. We walked scores of miles, “swallowing” every spot of interesting architecture or a good pastry shop (which, surprisingly enough, are not too common in Berlin …).
One day we decided to spend the morning in one of Berlin’s numerous parks. We organized breakfast in a hamper, bought premium cheese and fresh baguettes, put on a Heidi the Mountain Girl costume, boarded the train and set off to the park. On arrival, we thought we got off at the wrong stop. We looked left and right, and instead of seeing a stunningly-designed green park, we got, well, an all too familiar design of our Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv after Independence Day celebrations – green landscape dotted with white impurities from disposable utensils waste.
While we were looking for this scenic view:
We got this dirty landscape instead:
Being far away from home, you are surprised to discover that it is “there” in Europe that you identify your domestic problem – empty packs and used-up paper plates and cups on the grass. It was there that I understood the great importance of keeping our planet clean, both for individuals and for corporations. Despite the fact that Europe is way ahead of us in terms of waste treatment and environmental discourse, it was amazing to discover that 55% of the waste which is supposedly intended for recycling are burned like all other types of waste flow!
To my delight, our salty snacks division has been partnering with the international recycling company TerraCycle for over a year now. This global organization works with mega-brands in a bid to raise awareness of recycling non-perishable products (e.g., salty snack packs). The special collection method, treatment of hard-to-recycle waste flows, and their incorporation in a dynamic, up-to-date business model have all made Terra Cycle a global environmental revolution, whose “gospel” we brought to Israel as well. With the help of this organization, we signed a long-term agreement with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, and launched our activities this July: We targeted summer camps and taught children how to recycle empty salty snack packs in order to create a clean and pleasant environment for all of us.
And this is just the beginning! For illustration purposes, 32 million people collect waste for TerraCycle in 21 countries around the world, with more than 2.5 billion waste units collected so far by the organization. In percentage terms, TerraCycle’s divisions are built to collect about 30% of the waste flows collected through them, so that within a few years after the establishment of a division, the collection program should become a complementing solution to the ones already offered by the various countries. Together with the new packaging legislation in Israel and growing awareness in it, we may be able to utilize our collaboration with TerraCycle to help reduce the percentage of waste transferred to landfills in Israel today (about 90%!) and facilitate reduction in land, water and air pollution.
As this cooperation continues, we will soon place snack recycle bins in every kitchenette at the Strauss Corporate Center. To this end, we have already called on employees to bring empty snack packs for recycling from home/neighbors/relatives, and help us promote the clean revolution.
If our small pilot project proves successful, we will expand it into all Group sites, thereby contributing our small share toward creating greener and cleaner places.
It was surprising to find out that in Israel – a country whose environmental awareness is not very high – positive response rates to the collection division remain relatively high, and even exceed other “developed” countries such as Canada or Spain.
Activities for maintaining a cleaner environment can start with each and every one of us. How? With some thought and consideration for the environment. Every time you end your outdoor picnic, make sure you leave behind a clean environment. And so with very little effort we can all become part of the change that will lead us all to creating parks and gardens, which will remain green instead of white-dirt-dotted-green that is no longer appropriate. With some luck, we may become the envy of the Europeans.
Wishing us an extremely clean Clean Up the World week,
First published at Strauss Blog