By Gregory Pings, manager of Content Marketing for Xerox

“The Three R’s stand for revenue, revenue, revenue.”

This is not the Earth Day lead you were hoping for, but Dan Tuohy unabashedly stands by his mantra. President of COTG, a Xerox company, this executive of the Chicago-based office equipment and service dealership knows that, after all the considerable good his company does in his community, he must close his books on a profit.

He’s right, of course.

When customer RFPs call for “green” credentials, Dan and his team confidently tout everything COTG offers, from ENERGY STAR and EPEAT certifications on Xerox equipment, to the numerous ways our printers, MFPs and managed print services can save paper, save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and much more.

Indeed, Dan Tuohy does embrace Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

COTG’s 64,000 square foot distribution center cycles some $5.1 million in equipment that comes in from suppliers and back out the door to customers. The operation is busy, clean and efficient, and his team is rightly proud of it.

COTG’s new headquarters in Bolingbrook, Illinois, provides world class support for their clients. (View video.)

But Dan couldn’t ignore that pile of trash in the back of his warehouse.

COTG paid $125,000 each and every year to remove bin after bin of discarded pallets, cardboard, plastic foam and more. Three times a week the bins were hauled away only to be filled again.

Worse, it’s not for nothing that Chicago is known as The Windy City.

“We got calls from neighbors, almost daily, telling us to come and clear our garbage off of their property,” Bob Clark, COTG’s vice president of operations, recalled. “It’s not like we could deny it; Xerox’s logo was all over the stuff.”

So out employees went to pick up the mess – year round in all the glory that is Chicagoland’s weather.

Worst. Job. Ever.

Dan considered buying trash compactors. “You pay by weight to remove your garbage,” he pointed out, “so not a lot of savings there.”

It occurred to him that you get the most value out of recycling if you process the pieces, which meant buying one compactor for clear plastics, another for the plastic foam, and a cardboard baler. The value add comes from recyclers pay who pay COTG for bale after bale of these commodities.

“I figured it would take five years to get our return on investment (ROI) from the compactors,” Bob recalled.

More ways to create a Green workplace
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He wasn’t done. Returning the shipping skids meant a savings for Xerox, and less garbage for COTG. Odd-sized or damaged pine pallets that can’t be returned are hauled to a local composter that grinds them up and magnetically removes the nails. No charge for this; Bob just makes sure that one of the employees hauls the skids away.

All in all out, COTG’s annual garbage removal bill fell from $125,000 to $3,500 per year.

Let that sink in a moment.

And the recycling? “Our revenue from selling the clear plastics, cardboard and plastic foam ranges from about $26,000 a year to $30,000,” Bob pointed out. “We got our ROI back in 16 months.”

Now, when customers tour the facility, the compactors and recycling operation are the main attraction.

“The customers love it because it shows another way that COTG walks the talk of environmental responsibility.” Dan also pointed out that more than a few prospects became COTG customers as a result.

And that pile of trash? Not so big, and no longer a problem.