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April 14, 2023

Volm Companies: Material and Equipment Manufacturer Committed to Waste Reduction

By Green Business Benchmark°

Material and Equipment Manufacturer Meeting the Demands of an Environmentally Conscious World

Volm Companies and Yellowstone Plastics is a material and equipment manufacturer and supplier. They offer product solutions for fresh produce, frozen and processed foods, lawn and garden, pet products, outdoor fencing and fabrics, erosion control, landscape, culvert and drainage, and seafood, snacks, sweets, and dairy industries.

Volm Companies and Yellowstone Plastics’ portfolio of products includes packaging of various sizes and styles, packaging supplies, and a full line of packaging equipment. Services include packing facility design and engineering, as well as inventory management.

As a complete design, equipment, and consumables supplier, Volm Companies believe they have a unique and exciting opportunity to provide thoughtful solutions that help reduce landfill waste and meet the demands of a more environmentally conscious world.

Approaching Sustainability with social and environmental responsibility in mind

Volm Companies and Yellowstone Plastics (YP) recognize business operations need to change to cause less harm to the environment. As such, they seek to continuously evolve based on customer demand and expectations, to reduce the environmental impact of business practices, and to create a socially responsible corporation. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key sustainability initiatives Volm and YP have implemented.

DIVERTING WASTE AND SUPPORTING A CIRCULAR ECONOMY WITH INNOVATIVE DESIGN

Throughout the course of a year, Volm Companies keeps more than 900,000 lbs of pre-consumer waste out of landfills.

To do so, Volm Companies sends pre-consumer material that was either defective, rejected, or excess poly film to a recycler, who will then transform this material into useful products.

To increase recycling efforts, Volm has implemented a 3-month recycling initiative at their corporate location, whereby the company donates $1 for every pound of material that’s recycled (cardboard, paper, RICs 1-5, glass, and aluminum cans).

Volm is also working hard to expand its sustainable packaging portfolio, while also evaluating how to design products for a circular economy. Their portfolio now includes recyclable materials, paper, biobased, compostable, and lightweight products. They have also developed a light-blocker film that filters out UV light to slow the over-ripening of food products, helping to reduce food waste.

As a result of Volm and YP’s dedication toward waste reduction, innovation, and a circular economy (plus more), they were one of nine award winners at the 34th annual Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year (MOTY) ceremony. The MOTY awards are given for outstanding achievements in manufacturing. Volm was selected from more than 9,000 eligible Wisconsin manufacturers. Finalists are evaluated on innovation, philanthropy, customer commitment, advances in technology, and the quality of jobs provided.

Knapkavage Bag: Made using the paper that won the 2021 Innovator of the Year Award for the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.

IMPROVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY FOR A REDUCED CARBON FOOTPRINT

Volm Companies and YP know creating a sustainable business needs a holistic approach, one that considers operational impacts across a multitude of environmental factors. For this reason, their sustainability efforts reach beyond waste reduction.

They are also focused on reducing energy waste via efficiency improvements and conducting energy audits to identify target areas for improvement. Audit results are then used to draw up recommended actions.

CREATING A SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS VIA PHILANTHROPY AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Volm and YP recognize the importance of supporting their communities through both philanthropy and community involvement. They are currently working on developing a Volunteer Time Off policy that will allow employees to give back to their communities while being paid. They understand that having a work-life balance is important, so this program will allow people to give back to their community without having to sacrifice time with their own families.

They have a long history of philanthropy and giving back to the communities that have supported them for so many years. With its corporate office in Antigo, WI, and as the second largest employer in the city, Volm knows that if it wants to attract and retain staff, it must take care of its employees and their families.

The Green Business Bureau brings accountability and guidance for sustainable progression

Volm Companies wanted to advance sustainability with software that would not only certify and validate their sustainability program, but one that can help them build it. This brought them to Green Business Benchmark°.

The team at Volm Companies is committed to being good stewards for not only the environment but also the community. They wanted their employees, customers, suppliers, and community members to recognize the brand’s dedication to making the world a better place for generations to come. Volm Companies knows their subscription with GBB will help bring accountability, keep the momentum high, and prevent stagnancy. Volm Companies’ Green Team now manages the implementation of GBB across 4 sites.

Today Volm Companies can celebrate their Silver Certification with GBB.

Challenges

The biggest sustainability challenge Volm and YP have faced has been designing products for a circular economy, especially in a plastic-dominated industry. There are times when plastic is the best packaging option because it allows for better breathability and has necessary light-blocking properties – both of which prevent food waste. Additionally, HDPE and LDPE are the safest plastic food storage containers available today for food contact. However, Volm and YP understand that they need to continuously evaluate their product offerings to work towards more sustainable packaging options, and so the brand turns to innovative design to continuously seek less harmful options.

Another challenge Volm and YP anticipate is building sustainability into the company’s culture. It’s easier to build a company around sustainability than it is to build sustainability into an already existing business. Having five separate sites in the U.S. and one located in Canada, all of which operate very differently, makes the challenges more unpredictable. To help mitigate some of those challenges, they have chosen to measure each location separately through the GBB platform.

Despite these challenges, Volm and YP have made significant progress including:

  • Implemented an effective recycling system at five locations in Antigo and has begun tracking waste diversion.

  • Conducted regular energy audits to reduce overall energy demand and business-related emissions.

  • Worked hard in establishing a Volunteer Time off policy to encourage employees to give back to their communities.

  • Written a Supplier Code of Conduct to ensure the brand is working with businesses that have shared environmental values.

  • Joined GBB and has achieved silver-green business certification status.

Volm and YP recognize that their sustainability journey has just started, but through the strong and steady efforts of their Green Team, they are confident they will reach their goals.

Volm Companies’ mission statement is that we exist to serve and build up our customers, suppliers, communities, and each other. For Volm, sustainability then means more than just selling products that meet customer sustainability needs, it means understanding our total footprint and taking active measures to thoughtfully reduce that as a company. Being mindful of our impact is simply following our mission statement” – Daniel Mueller, CEO of Volm Companies and Yellowstone Plastics

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