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A Publication of WTVP

What’s the final destination of the by-products and waste created by your processes? The landfill? The sewer system? Your warehouse? How much do you spend on waste disposal and processing? Have you ever wondered if there’s a better way to both protect the environment and generate business?

IMEC is launching a program to help Peoria businesses collaborate and find new ways to transform waste into more profitable and innovative uses. Using a process known as by-product synergy, IMEC’s Waste-to-Profit Network will help facilitate the transformation of one company’s waste, or by-products, into an input that can be utilized by another company. The program was boosted by a $150,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) Recycling Expansion and Modernization (REM) Program.

“Adopting green practices is not just good for the environment, but also good for business,” said DCEO Director Jack Lavin. “The IMEC project will support these forward-thinking companies that are motivated to adopt a sustainable approach. It will also generate valuable information that companies will be able to use to improve their resourcefulness and enhance their competitive edge.”

The IMEC Waste-to-Profit Network program is being modeled after a successful initiative by the City of Chicago and the Chicago Manufacturing Center. In a match facilitated by the Chicago Network, for example, one firm receives discarded computers and printers from other companies and converts them into parking blocks and highway dividers. The company has secured several municipal contracts, and nearly 15 tons in plastic landfill waste was avoided. In another example, several countertop manufacturers are using glass waste from an oven door manufacturer to produce eco-friendly tabletop enhancements.

“The research clearly shows that companies who adopt sustainable practices can realize bottom-line benefits in operating revenue and cost avoidance,” said Jim Pankey, an IMEC business manager who is coordinating the program downstate. “Companies large and small have much to gain from finding new uses for their consumables. Waste-to-Profit is a targeted approach to creating these collaborative relationships.”

Two types of networks will be developed by IMEC. Community Networks will be comprised of business and community leaders who will meet to provide basic information on their inputs and outputs and identify potential matches. Innovation Networks are made up of paying-member companies who meet frequently in highly facilitated sessions to generate waste and synergy matches. IMEC and other partners will coach companies to explore, identify and test potentially valuable synergies. In between meetings,

IMEC will work with members to find synergy matches outside the network. IMEC’s Waste-to-Profit partners include the Chicago Manufacturing Center, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (formerly known as the Waste Management and Research Center), DCEO, Southern Illinois University, Bradley University and Northern Illinois University. Sponsors and network members are currently being recruited. The Peoria Network will be launched at a Community Network meeting this fall. For more on the program, call Jim Pankey at (309) 846-8032. iBi

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