The drive for efficiency is a core value at Dart. Our mission statement says: "Dart sets the industry standard of excellence by efficiently providing high quality foodservice packaging solutions and exceptionally reliable service." The dictionary defines "efficiency" as producing effectively with a minimum of waste. Efficiency is the cornerstone upon which Dart's business decisions are made. As our mission statement notes, efficiency occupies this central position because it drives creative solutions.
Today the concept of efficiency often is expressed in new and different terms, such as "sustainability," "stewardship," and "carbon footprint."
"Sustainability" implies meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. "Stewardship" emphasizes implementation and entails managing our natural resources to ensure that they are available for present and future generations. "Carbon footprint" is the total amount of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, emitted over the life cycle of a product or service. If we are not seeking to reduce our carbon footprint, then we are not exercising good stewardship of our environment and cannot achieve the goal of sustainability.
Underlying all of these new ideas is the concept of efficiency, of producing effectively with a minimum of waste and expense. Given its position at the heart of our mission, Dart's drive for efficiency has led to remarkable achievements in product stewardship and minimizing our carbon footprint.
This drive for efficiency occurs within the context of Dart's balanced strategy for caring for our environment. Our three-faceted environmental strategy includes ongoing efforts to:
- maximize efficiency in the materials and processes we use
- promote the environmental attributes of Dart's products
- research and develop new materials, products, and technologies that further reduce our energy usage and carbon footprint, promote recycling through the use of recycled content, or utilize renewable resources
Through this balanced approach, Dart will continue to exercise effective environmental stewardship in pursuit of a sustainable future.
Dart’s ongoing drive for efficiency has reaped an extraordinary harvest in reductions of our carbon footprint. From the lighting fixtures in our offices to the technologies on our factory floors, each element of our business is scrutinized for ways to further reduce energy consumption, air emissions, and solid wastes.
Energy conservation measures include recovering heat from our cupmaking process to warm our buildings. Electrical usage has been substantially reduced through the use of programmable controls and lower wattage lighting. Dart’s largest factory uses landfill gas to run the boilers for its foam cup production and the ovens for its oriented polystyrene operations, resulting in a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Dart has led its industry in emissions reduction and source reduction efforts, including the reduction of pentane emissions, the expansion agent for foam cups. Dart recaptures pentane for use in our production processes. By choosing inks curable by ultraviolet light, Dart avoids the solvent emissions associated with typical solvent-based printing inks. The amount of material used to produce many Dart products has been reduced without altering product performance. The amount of materials used in the packaging of our products, both corrugated cartons and plastic films, has been reduced.
Reuse and recycling also are an essential part of Dart’s stewardship ethic. Dart routinely makes multiple uses of the pallets, cartons, and bulk bags used to ship raw materials. Process water at Dart facilities is continually reused. Dart recycles foam cup plant scrap and trim scrap from extrusion and thermoforming operations. We recycle tires and batteries used in our trucks, forklifts, and automobiles, mercury in fluorescent light bulbs, and metal from our machinery manufacturing plant. Dart also recycles post-consumer polystyrene foam, with drop-off locations accessible to the public at all our North American plants and at over 30 drop-off sites in Michigan.
Add it all up and, conservatively, we estimate that as of 2006 Dart’s diligent stewardship efforts in pursuit of sustainability have produced energy savings totaling approximately 8.4 trillion BTUs per year and 5 million watts. That’s enough energy saved each year to heat nearly 105,000 homes and power over 3,000 homes!
Promoting Environmental Attributes
Through our experienced Government Affairs and Environment representatives, skilled salesforce, array of educational literature, 1-800-288-CARE hotline, website, messages on cup prints, film, and cartons, membership in industry organizations, and support of Keep America Beautiful, Dart employs many avenues through which we offer our customers, the general public and key political decision-makers current, reliable, and detailed scientific information on the environmental attributes of our products.
This scientific data confirms that Dart foam products:
- consume less energy to produce than paper alternatives,
- provide an environmentally sound choice when compared to alternatives on a cradle-to-grave life-cycle basis,
- are stable and safe in landfills, and
- burn cleanly in modern municipal energy-from-waste facilities.
Moreover, Dart foam products can be recycled in facilities like those operated by Dart and in programs like the Los Angeles curbside residential recycling program.
Developing New Materials, Products, and Technologies
Through the efforts of our engineering and technical experts, Dart continues to achieve significant breakthroughs in environmental stewardship. Our efforts have paid off through delivering substantial reductions in Dart’s carbon footprint. Even more exciting innovations now are being researched and developed.
We are aggressively researching the potential of closing the loop on foam recycling efforts by using post-consumer recycled material in several of our products. We will further cut energy usage by entirely eliminating an energy-intensive step in the making of one of our fastest-growing and most popular lines of cup lids. We are investigating means to make more extensive use of landfill gas as a source of energy. We are intensively researching the use of biopolymers as the raw materials for many of our products.
Dart’s drive for efficiency fosters the creativity that generates these innovations. Sustainability, stewardship, and reducing our carbon footprint are new means of expressing a deep-rooted ethic at Dart. Tomorrow’s environmental breakthroughs will flow from this same disciplined approach.