Recycling and being conscientious can pay off when it comes to the bottom line, say business owners recently honored for their environmentally friendly practices.
The Alameda County Green Business Program has recognized the efforts of five Berkeley businesses in recent months, awarding them Green Business Awards: Patti’s Auto Care, Ackerman’s Servicing Volvos, Grandma’s Garage, Consolidated Printers Inc., and Griffin Motor Works.
And at a recent meeting of the Economic Development Alliance For Business, the Stop Waste Partnership recognized Bayer Corporation and UC Berkeley for their commitments to improving environmental performance.
Stop Waste is a program of the Alameda County Waste Management Authority and Recycling Board in San Leandro. Stop Waste participates along with other agencies as part of a team that evaluates the environmental practices of small businesses before they can be certified and recognized.
Pamela Evans, coordinator for Green Business, said the awards let the public know where they can spend their dollars on environmentally friendly businesses.
The nonprofit program is administered by the East Bay Small Business Development Center and funded local, state and federal government agencies.
Since 1997 when Green Business began the awards, the program has recognized 10 Berkeley businesses. The previous five recipients are Art’s Automotive, Bob’s Volvo/Toyota Specialists, Britoil Ltd., Jim Doten’s Honda and Weatherford BMW.
Evans said criteria for certification include environmental compliance with laws, pollution prevention or good housekeeping practices, energy and water conservation and solid waste.
She said Green Business pulls together representatives from utilities and conservation agencies for an on-site inspection that is completed in less than two hours.
For its size Berkeley has a “pretty healthy number” of businesses that are recognized by her program, said Evans, and Berkeley residents tend to patronize such businesses.
“It does seem that in the northwest part of Alameda County and especially in Berkeley, that there is more consumer interest in green business, “ said Evans.
Patti Critchfield, owner of Patti’s Auto Care, said achieving certification was not difficult – she knew the requirements from past practice.
She painted the floor of her automotive business with epoxy paint making it easy to pick up oil spills with a squeegee and a dustpan. Then they put the oil in a waste oil tank and the remaining oil is wiped up with rags that go to the laundry.
In a lot of cases, she said, brakes are made of asbestos, but the mechanics in her shop are not endangered by breathing its particles, she said. She uses an aqueous system of hot water and special soap, and the mechanics wash a braking system before taking it apart so the asbestos particles are dampened down.
It’s easier being green, said Critchfield, because it saves money and clean-up time for employees and it’s healthier.
Bruce Goddard, a spokesman for the Alameda County Waste Management Authority, said its Stop Waste Partnership program exemplifies the county waste management’s mission to “keep all material out of landfills.”
With the larger corporations like past award recipient Alta Bates Medical Center, and with Bayer and UC Berkeley, Stop Waste found the components like energy, water and solid waste reduction are intertwined and could not be addressed separately.
Stop Waste enters the picture to help large companies that face a host of regulations, and to improve their performance and implement necessary changes.
“We have recognized some of them that have done very well, “ said Goddard. He said Bayer and UC Berkeley made commitments to change their own practices to become more sustainable.
Thomas Malott, Principal Environmental Specialist at Bayer Corporation, said he had worked with Stop Waste for several years.
The county brought in consultants from Scientific Applications International Corporation, he said. The consulting firm dived into Bayer’s dumpsters and rummaged through the waste to determine what percentage of it could have been recycled.
Currently, said Malott, Bayer is recycling 40 percent of its solid waste. The plant recycles paper, aluminum, glass, plastic, iron and asphalt, and the company donates food from its cafeteria to a homeless shelter, he said.
Bayer bought the dilapidated Colgate-Palmolive property next door and in the process of demolition, almost everything is being recycled, he said. Concrete is going into re-usable road base, rebar (steel for reinforcing concrete) and structural steel and bricks all are being recycled.
He said Stop Waste has provided the company with continuing assistance, including weighing rebar and concrete, and working with Bayer’s contractor to insure that its diversion rate or the amount of “waste” that can be recycled, is as high as possible.
The partnership has been a “win-win” proposition, he said.
“By conserving you save money and you protect the environment,” Malott said.