Leaders at the first Cummins sites certified by the company as “Zero Disposal” facilities say slow but steady progress that builds employee support for reuse and recycling was critical to their success.

“Do not try to boil the ocean,” said Jennifer Hirst, a facilities engineer at one of the sites, Cummins Turbo Technologies (CTT) at Huddersfield in the United Kingdom. “Small, individual steps will slowly amalgamate into a big difference and change in culture.”

Cummins defines Zero Disposal as handling 100 percent of waste in a truly useful manner. That means waste doesn’t go to a landfill and can only be incinerated at a waste-to-energy facility after reasonable efforts to reduce, re-use and recycle. It must produce more energy than needed to merely sustain combustion. 

The first four sites certified by the company in 2015 as achieving Zero Disposal include CTT in Huddersfield and two other sites in the U.K.: the Darlington Engine Plant and the Daventry Engine Plant. In addition, the company certified the Cummins Filtration Plant in Quimper, France that same year. Cummins Global Logistics (CGL) Belgium is the most recent site achieving Zero Disposal status. It was certified in April 2016.

Cummins has a robust certification process to determine if sites are managing their waste effectively and that vendors are properly handling material both at the company site and if it leaves that location.

Collectively, the first four locations certified generated almost 26 million pounds of waste in 2014 that had to be recycled or reused in some way to achieve the Zero Disposal designation.

In all four cases, these plants had been moving away from landfills for some time. In both France and the U.K., there are fees and taxes in place to discourage waste disposal in landfills. That, along with the overall cost of waste handling, provided plenty of incentive for the sites to reuse and recycle to reduce costs.