Live From Internet Retailer: Green Mountain’s Four Rs For Greener Operations

Boston—So how do you make your operations a little bit greener? You can start with what Paul Comey, vice president of environmental affairs for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, calls the Four Rs.

During a session Wednesday at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2009, Comey outlined the Four Rs—reduction of materials, reuse, recycle and recovery—that have helped Green Mountain stick with its mission of being an environmentally friendly company.

Reduction of non-renewable materials: In 2006, Green Mountain introduced a new to-go cup for hot beverages made of 100% renewable materials to replace its petroleum-based cuts. Right now, Comey said, only the lids are petroleum-based, but a new lid made of renewable materials is in the works. The company in 2007 introduced new packaging for its Newman’s Own brand with 19% renewable materials.

Reuse: Cardboard boxes have two afterlives. The first is as a box, naturally. Boxes in perfect condition are sold back to the box sellers. They are put in a trailer on-site, and Green Mountain receives $1,500 every time a full trailer of boxes is returned. Boxes that aren’t in reusable shape are shredded and used as packaging material.

Recycle: Green Mountain does not use wooden pallets. Instead, the merchant’s pallets are made with reusable materials, and are reconditioned when needed by a company called Power Pallets.

Recovery: The company captures the waste coffee roasting operations to help heat the building. Comey says this has helped make generators that were 35% energy efficient become up to 70% energy efficient.

But the Four Rs aren’t the only things the company is doing in its operations to help the environment. Green Mountain’s delivery truck fleet runs on biodiesel, and it opened a 10,000-gallon biodiesel fueling station at its Waterbury, VT, distribution center in 2007.

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