The American Licorice Co. has achieved its commitment to be Zero Waste Facility certified by 2016.

The pledge began in 2012 when ALC launched a more aggressive recycling and committed to achieving Zero Waste Facility Certification. The company saw it as an opportunity to become more sustainable while engaging its associates in a transparent process.

 “We had an ambitious goal of eliminating waste versus managing it through landfills, while complying with all federal, state/provincial, and local solid waste and recycling regulations,” says Clarence Walsh, business development manager.

And the ambition paid off.

Today, both of ALC's locations in Union City, Ind. and La Porte, Ind. are certified, with more than 90 percent overall diversion from landfill and incineration for non-hazardous wastes. ALC also maintains Gold level status with the United States Zero Waste Business Council.

ALC reached its goal through a diverse array of efforts to reduce.

It used bulk purchasing to reduce packaging materials and found local suppliers to lower transportation costs. As an EPA Smart Way shipping partner, it gave preference to carriers who were also Smart Way partners. Preference for renewable and repurposed packaging material was also initiated with vendors to reduce waste.

The company's associates at each location also added to the Zero Waste goals by recycling scrap, paper, film, trays, wood pallets, metal, electronics, and plastic containers generated in the production process. Off-spec candies were diverted to animal feed instead of dumped.

“Our strategy has been to look at the zero waste objectives beyond landfill diversion numbers. We prioritize how we implement our ideas to upstream partners, policies and vendor contracts,” says Cliff Walsh, v.p. of operations.

Through multi-departmental efforts and ALC's WasteWise partnership with the EPA, the company has been able to improve its packaging material, equipment control, vendor and materials selection process, innovation process, and associate training.

A look at ALC's waste-reducing statistics in the past few years:

  • Diverted 91 percent of material from landfill by recycling, reusing, and composting used materials in 2015.
  • Recycled 966 U.S. tons of material in 2015
  • Recycled 3,169 U.S. tons of material since 2012
  • Reduced annual landfill material above 88% since 2012
  • Plant wide forums, meetings and identifying the stakeholders helped us to move the needle from 88 percent to above 90 percent landfill diversion.