DEP honors company for its more than 57 percent recycling rate

FORT MYERS – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s South District recognized Storm Smart for its superior recycling efforts today during the SWFL Sustainability Summit in Fort Myers. Storm Smart is the largest hurricane protection company in Florida with more than 150 employees. In 2014, this Florida business achieved a recycling rate of 57.5 percent.

“Businesses can benefit financially from investing in recycling and that investment benefits Florida’s environment,” said DEP South Director Jon Iglehart. “I am honored to recognize Storm Smart for its outstanding recycling efforts, innovative reuse methods and for its environmental stewardship.”

Storm Smart reused or recycled close to 200 pallets in 2014 and recycles scrap aluminum from the production line. The long cardboard boxes containing new reels of roll-down screens and shutters are reused. After opening, the damaged ends are removed and recycled, and the box is reused to ship shorter reels. This innovative process continues until the cardboard is too small for shipping reels and is then recycled. As a result, Storm Smart reuses several times more cardboard than it recycles.

Each work station at Storm Smart is equipped with one garbage can and one recycling container, which encourages employees to consciously choose to recycle. The company also utilizes a digital internal processing system and discourages the use of paper or printing of native digital files.

One area where Storm Smart previously struggled was with disposal of scrap pieces of the polypropylene mesh-based Storm Catcher Wind Abatement Screen. In years past, all ‘drop’ pieces were gathered and disposed of as standard refuse. Today, those pieces are used to create the very popular Storm Catcher tote bags distributed at company sponsored and community events.

“Living in such a beautiful place as Southwest Florida is motivation enough for us at Storm Smart to do our part in preserving that beauty for future generations,” said Storm Smart President and CEO Brian Rist. “We consider recycling and materials repurposing as smart business and would encourage all other businesses to share in that philosophy.”

The department has an easy tool for companies to track recycling efforts – the Florida DEP Business Recycling Tracking Tool. Through the website, which includes free registration, companies can track different types of recycling efforts and produce reports on how those efforts are helping to shrink their carbon footprint. The tracking tool helps the department identify companies that are doing more to go green.

Approximately 55 percent of the total municipal solid waste stream in Florida is commercial. In order for Florida to reach a 75 percent recycling rate by 2020, a goal established by the Florida Legislature in 2008, the department is urging all sectors, especially the commercial sector, to increase their recycling efforts. According to the 2013 data, only 51 percent of commercial waste is being recycled. It is crucial that businesses, schools and other commercial recyclers increase their recycling efforts. Recycling provides a direct cost savings to most businesses because the more that is recycled, the less waste and lower waste-management operating costs. Reuse of materials can also represent a cost savings.

Pictures of Brian Rist, President and CEO of Storm Smart, who was awarded the Florida Department of Environmental (DEP) Protection’s Award for Recycling. He was presented with his award by Jon Iglehart and Dr. Abdul Ahmadi of the Florida DEP.