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Strathcona Materials Exchange – adding value to waste

Strathcona area businesses are finding ways to cooperate for bottom line benefts. Last week I was honored to meet with other local business owners at Sunrise Soya Foods, a Strathcona keystone business, for the purpose of exploring ways in which we can utilized each other’s waste streams. I’m happy to report back on some of the progress we’ve made happen to date in addition to opportunities we’re continuing toll explore. Reducing and eliminating waste pays directly into the bottom line of a business, waste = cash, but beyond saving some money this type of work also adds value by building community and relationships with our neighbours. All of this work feeds into building the Strathcona Green Zone, an initiative by the Strathcona Buiness Improvement Association (SBIA) helping local businesses maximzing value from sustainble business practices. Through cooperation we’re finding ways to work together for mutual benefit and creating a progressive and innovative business cluster in close proximity to downtown Vancouver.

Meet our neighbours

Sunrise Soya Foods – Manufacturers of a variety of brands including Pete’s Tofu, Sunrise Soya Milk, Mandarin and Soyganic, Sunrise has been a corner stone business in Strathcona for over 50 years.

Wing Wing – Manufacturers of Chinese style pork sausages since 1949 shipping their products world wide.

Great Day Bokashi – odour free home composting systems that ferment organic food waste, interested in locating their business in the Strathcona area

Top Success Stories

  1. Pallets – both Sunrise and Wing-Wing use orange and blue pallets for shipping, these are the standard ones for shipping into major retail stores. Last week Saul Good gave Wing-Wing 3 blue pallets, helping us figure out how to get rid of something we didn’t need while helping them save money on aquire something of value. We also realized that Sunrise receives plastic pallets while Wing-Wing ships products out on plastic pallets. Pallet cascading is an easy way to allow materials to flow through the area as resources, as oppose to as waste to throw away.
  2. Plastic buckets – Great Day was able to source plastic buckets from Sunrise which they use for home composting systems.

Opportunities on the rise

  1. Reclaimed packing materials – Saul Good is currently experimenting with various options of using reclaimed materials for gift box packaging. Both Sunrise and Wing-Wing have a laminated plastic film product that, if shredded, may be a suitable packing material for Saul Good. Because the product is made from a variety of plastics it can’t be recycled, thus by using it for packing we get one more use out of it before it heads to the landfill. Although not ideal from a full product life cycle perspective, it does add some value to waste.
  2. Utilizing waste heat – Great Day is looking to utilize waste heat to dry their bokashi, a wheat bran product used in their home composting systems. Food manufacturers can create a variety of heat sources from their manufacturing processes, some of which may be suitable for Great Day. We may need to bring in our consultants to help us calculate if this is a viable eco-industrial opportunty.
  3. Our friends at Kona bikes introduced us to a local artist that welds waste steel into various sculptures. As we walked through the Sunrise facility I noticed some old machines and am working on forging a connection here to help Sunrise get rid of something they don’t need that’s taking up space while helping an artist get access to materials.