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Manufacturing

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The Science Museum of Minnesota Warehouse is one of the largest fabricators of museum exhibits in the United States. They create exhibits for museums across the United States and around the world.

Challenge

Being one of largest fabricators of museum exhibits means dealing with a lot of waste and recycling. Luckily, The Science Museum is on the cutting edge of waste reduction and recycling. In 2011, the museum, with the support of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency launched its ‘Project No Waste’ initiative. The museum achieved a 75 percent recycling rate through a variety of efforts, including construction waste recycling, standard dual-stream recycling, and commercial composting.

The Science Museum Warehouse wanted to explore options for other waste streams, including the large amount of sawdust they generate every year. They reached out to BizRecycling for assistance.

How We Helped

BizRecycling’s Recycling Experts visited the warehouse to learn about the waste streams and find opportunities for improvement.

The Recycling Experts worked with the museum’s warehouse to find ways they could recycle better. They discovered that although the museum’s warehouse had a strong recycling and waste program in place, they lacked clear and consistent signage. The warehouse ordered new labels from BizRecycling and added bins for recycling and composting.

In 2014, the warehouse had installed a dust collection system for all of the power tools in the fabrication shop. The Recycling Experts recommended including this sawdust in their current commercial composting service.

Another problem the warehouse needed help with was finding ways to donate parts of old exhibits that they would otherwise have to discard. “These exhibit components were taking up valuable space in our warehouse, and if we couldn’t find a home for them, they would have to go in with our construction waste,” said Warehouse Coordinator Breezy Callens.

Our Recycling Experts helped the museum’s warehouse find various donation opportunities for these unwanted items, including donating two indoor gazebos to Habitat for Humanity ReStore for use as display fixtures for lighting.

Outcome

By adding the collected sawdust to their organics recycling, the warehouse is diverting about 1,100 pounds of waste every year. Through donation efforts, the warehouse diverted over 12,000 pounds worth of reusable materials. Adding clear and consistent labels to the recycling and organics bins greatly reduced the amount of material going into the trash.

“The labels on our trash, organics, and recycling have helped us a lot. Our organics and recycling are filling up faster than our trash now,” said Callens.

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