Our Current Stories on Sustaining the Environment

Recycling and Waste Management

Recycling from the Ground Up

Recycling from the Ground Up

At Nordstrom, when it comes to recycling, several of our most innovative and effective strategies to increase recycling and decrease waste have come from the creativity and initiative of employees throughout our operations.

When you walk through any number of our stores, you'll see some of our people's ideas in action. Big dumpsters were repurposed to handle all of the materials we recycle as opposed to all of the materials we throw away. Much of the non-recyclable tissue from shoeboxes is gone, too—replaced by recyclable packing materials.

"We went about the challenge in a grassroots way, establishing a team of advocates to determine store-level recycling solutions." - Bill McQueen, Nordstrom Facilities and Energy

Grassroots approach pays off
We began our nationwide recycling push as part of our larger social responsibility program, with a goal of having all Nordstrom stores and facilities convert to a comprehensive, storewide recycling program by the end of 2008. Since then, we've diverted 84 percent of the waste stream away from landfills and hope to divert 90 percent for 2011.

We have our people to thank for that progress. When we began, we found that many of our stores were already doing great things on their own, so we decided to take the best of these ideas and share them company-wide to create a program that covers all aspects of recycling.

"We went about the challenge in a grassroots way, establishing a team of advocates to determine recycling solutions on a store level," said Bill McQueen, national director of facilities and energy at Nordstrom. "The response was incredible—we were scrambling to keep up with our people's enthusiasm."

For example, early in this effort, advocates at one of our stores came up with the idea of turning a large trash compactor into a recycling bin. Employees sanitized the compactor and painted it the deep blue associated with recycling. That compactor now serves as the store's recycling center as opposed to its trash bin. Today, our standard practice is to designate all large compactors for recycling and smaller ones for trash.

Another innovation from our employees was to flip the number of garbage cans and recycling containers in our stores and fulfillment centers. Where there used to be several trash cans and one recycling container, we now have one trash can and several recycling containers. This simple switch encourages behavior changes throughout our operations by making recycling the easiest option. These changes have driven significant improvements. In 2010, 98 percent of the waste from our fulfillment and distribution centers was recycled, and our Nordstrom Rack locations recycled 83 percent of waste generated.

Looking forward
We began monitoring our recycling a few years ago and now have enough data to better understand the progress we've made and where we need to improve. We are pleased with the results we've achieved so far but also recognize there is still plenty of work to do. For example, we are currently working to expand our composting program to further reduce the amount of waste we're generating. Fortunately, we know we can count on the creativity and dedication of our employees to continue to move us forward.

Recycling from the Ground Up

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