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Family-owned company in Elyria moves toward zero waste

Bendix is known for being innovative in the commercial vehicle arena, but they're working on making another name for themselves

ELYRIA, Ohio — The road to reducing your carbon footprint isn’t easy, especially when it’s a family-owned company employing more than 600 people.

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems is making it happen and, in the process, educating others to start their own journey, too.

When you picture what that looks like, dumping trash on a tarp and sorting it probably isn’t the first visual you get.

According to sustainability manager Bill Schubert, this is one of the beginning steps of the process.

“What you will see here at Bendix throughout the building, we went through and actually removed desk-side collection of trash and recycling,” Schubert said.

Instead, you’ll find 40 recycle, compost and trash stations. Each has an easy-to-digest diagram, so employees and visitors know where to put their waste.

The dumpster diving, or spent material audit, means Schubert and his team go through each bin and log the materials for research.

“When we spread everything out and looked at what was generated at the end of the day, by far the largest contributor was the compostable waste,” Schubert said. “That caused us to ramp up efforts to secure a composting facility.”

They chose to work with Barnes Nursery for composting, solving the problem by identifying it.

They’ve used the same concept energy conservation.

“We took out some of the old energy consuming halo lights and replaced them with more efficient LED lighting,” Jim Wischmeier, facilities and maintenance manager, said.

“In this case, we've taken out maybe 20 lights and replaced them with maybe over 100 that still save half the energy.” 

The work space now has a different feel, more light and has taken one more step toward reducing that carbon footprint.

They’ve even taken their efforts outside of the building by installing charging stations for electric vehicles.

“You say if you build then they will come, and when we put the charging stations there we had zero employees that had electric cars,” Maria Gutierrez, director of corporate responsibility and sustainability, said. “Once we put them there, now we have five employees that use them.”

The goal with the small, and sometimes big, changes is to not contribute to the landfills at all – zero waste.

Right now, the company is at 96%.

“We feel that sustainability is not only good for the environment but also drives value for the business,” Gutierrez said. “By being a responsible corporate citizen, we're helping the communities that we work in.”

For more information on their efforts, click this link to the website.