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Green-minded Warners' Stellian's Styrofoam compactor makes award-winning business sense

The appliance retailer Warners' Stellian has started compacting leftover Styrofoam packaging and sending it out by the semi-trailer load to be recycled.

The effort has earned the company a "Sustainable Saint Paul" award, a city award that promotes environmental stewardship.

The initiative was a huge undertaking for the company, requiring it to make a large investment and train all of its drivers to separate packaging materials as part of every delivery.

"It was quite a learning curve to get used to the process," said Bob Warner, director of operations. "It took a little over a year."

The new Styrofoam compactor is one of just two in the state, but Warner said the investment makes good business sense. It saves on refuse costs and taxes, and the company is paid for the recycled material. At least three other partners provide Warners' Stellian with additional Styrofoam to compact and recycle.

Warner said his company sells appliances that are more efficient than the industry standard, so going green was a natural choice.

"We already have a consumer that's very conscious about being green and being efficient," Warner said. "We're seeing that philosophy through our entire corporation."

He said the company has added other touches to make it more efficient. Delivery trucks automatically power down after five minutes of idling. A natural air ventilation system in the warehouse circulates cooler air in the northern stretch back through the warmer, southern portion of the building. Warehouse lighting is motion-sensitive, so lights only blink on in the particular aisle a forklift is using. After five minutes of inactivity, the lights power down again.

Warners' Stellian also donates plastic wrap to be recycled and put back into manufacturing.

"Foam was the last big component of our waste stream," Warner said. "We were generating a tremendous amount of waste. Now, very little is going to the landfill."

Source: Bob Warner, director of operations, Warners' Stellian
Writer: Michelle Bruch

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