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Redesigning the Waste out of Packaging

SYNNEX’s Team Approach Garners StopWaste Award

Fremont-based global IT company SYNNEX is one of 11 winners of the 2011 StopWaste Business Efficiency Awards, presented in a ceremony at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center on October 28. The annual awards honor medium and large Alameda County organizations that are actively working with StopWaste and whose leadership and continuous efforts to improve environmental performance and business efficiency have achieved outstanding results.
SYNNEX, a Fortune 500 IT design-to-distribution business process services company, reduced 500 tons of waste in 2010, through an ongoing process of re-engineering the way they handle discards at multiple facilities in Fremont. Chris Harty, Head of Sustainability and Green IT at SYNNEX, explained the effort: “We redesigned all the packaging and refuse materials handling in our operations. Since we perform configuration and build services of PCs, servers and other IT hardware, we use certain quantities of potentially recyclable material. By simplifying processes to segregate and recycle materials instead of disposing of them, we significantly reduced waste.”
The waste was diverted from landfill and recycled, resulting in substantial savings of some $100,000 in annual disposal costs. Materials handling was redesigned through a process of engaging a multi-department, multi-level staff team. SYNNEX uses ISO 14001, an internationally recognized environmental management standard, to guide the process with an aim of continuous improvement.

Taking a Team Approach

Chris Harty led the redesign team of 25-30, including a project coordinator, operations leads, line-level operations staff, facilities manager and others, who came together around the opportunity to show the organization that it can significantly improve environmental performance while simultaneously improving the bottom line. Harty noted that beyond the team, the participation of hundreds of associates made the redesign possible and successful.
The redesign process involved some internal “selling” at the 350-employee site. Harty recalls: “Operations groups initially had concerns about the ability to create new materials handling flows. However, we were able to show that by segregating materials, we were able to make disposal operations even more efficient.” The team observed a snowball effect, as more employees participated upon seeing the redesign’s success: “Once we had basic processes in place, employees eagerly worked to continually increase the amount of recyclable material that was brought into our handling processes.”
Green transformation can only succeed if it works at all levels of an organization. Harty noted the importance of executive support along with the involvement of the line-level employees. In addition to the materials handling processes, SYNNEX had already optimized their box/void fill systems to minimize packaging. They also evaluated reusable shipping containers. In the spirit of continuous improvement, Harty expects upcoming goals to include further increases in recycling and addressing electricity needs for lighting as well as other energy-related expenses.
StopWaste’s business services are available at no charge to all medium and large businesses and institutions in Alameda County. Services and resources include technical assistance, grant funding and educational materials. For more information please click here or contact us.
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