Our Green Initiatives
At COUNTRY, green is more than just our logo color. We’re committed to protecting the environment.
Our Green History
Since our first green initiative to recycle paper in 1976, we have expanded our recycling efforts to include plastic bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard, chair mats, electronics, extracted wires, furniture and other office supplies.
Not only do we recycle waste, we also purchase recycled goods. The carpet, paper and refurbished furniture in our offices are all made from recycled materials. Even one of our freight elevators is made from 95 percent recycled material. It runs without oil, uses one-third of the energy that hydraulic elevators require and produces 50 percent less heat.
But our green efforts go beyond reducing, reusing and recycling. We are changing the way our company operates. In 2010, COUNTRY substantially increased its energy efficiency.
- Total energy consumption fell 11 percent from 2008.
- CO2 emissions have dropped by almost 12 percent since 2008.
The COUNTRY Green Team comprises employees working throughout the country to make our processes and facilities more sustainable. The Green Team continually explores the large and small changes that can make a lasting difference in preserving one of our most precious resources: the world around us.
Fifty Years of Green – That’s Just the Beginning
COUNTRY home offices in the Illinois Agricultural Association building, in Bloomington, Ill., celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. Over the years, we’ve made big operational changes to our facility to improve efficiency.
Already in 2011, several additional energy-saving projects have been completed including replacing a boiler, upgrading a cooling tower and replacing an outdated escalator with three lower-energy elevators.
Living (and working) green is possible on many levels – down to an individual light bulb. We’re well on our way to using only energy efficient T8 light bulbs. Computer systems shut off the lights during non-business hours and motion sensors help us save energy.
For Clearer Skies and Brighter Communities
Our sustainable efforts don’t just preserve the environment. They benefit our employees and community members, too.
Above the garage at our Central Regional Office in Arden Hills, Minn., we created a rooftop garden where we placed a recycled bench and planted 252 wave petunias.
The Central Regional Office cafeteria recycles food, steel cans, plastic buckets, food packaging and used cooking oil. Last year, we recycled 5,347 pounds of food. Recycled food is converted into feed for livestock and fowl. Food wrappers and packaging from the cafeteria are shredded to become fuel that processes heat for the rotary feed dryer used by the food processing company.
In 2011, the COUNTRY home offices in Bloomington started composting food waste. This project keeps cooking scraps out of landfills and provides sustainable fertilizer for community gardeners and growers. COUNTRY has composted more than 2,000 pounds of food waste after just four months.
Reducing Our Carbon Footprint, One Page at a Time
The Paper Challenge is on! Employees began a company-wide paper reduction campaign in December with a goal of reducing printer and copier paper purchasing by 10 percent by Nov. 2011.
COUNTRY also reduced the number of privacy mailings for its life products in another effort to conserve paper. Clients now receive one yearly privacy statement per individual, as opposed to one per policy. The effort saved:
- more than 20,000 sheets of paper, approximately eight boxes, and
- 335,000 envelopes, which is enough to fill 1.33 semi trucks.
Our employees make copies on 100-percent recycled paper and use double-sided printing options. We continue to strive for paperless processes, including online paychecks, time reporting and employment applicant tracking.
The Future Looks Green
We remain committed to environmental sustainability and continually pursue the next best way to be green. Our facility management employees obtain the latest certification in building operations from Heartland Community College in Normal, Ill., and building recommissioning from the University of Wisconsin. Both programs are focused energy-efficient operations. In supporting continued education, we strive to instill a green mindset throughout the COUNTRY group of companies.