CSD: Recycling Program Breeds Customer Loyalty
By Erin Rigik
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is a summary of an article from Convenience Store Decisions magazine.
stopping for gas one day, two waste management interns working for the city
of Lexington, KY, pondered how much garbage could be recycled from cars if
locations, such as gas stations, made it more convenient to recycle.
pitched their idea to Bruce Whittaker, the district manager of Lexington South
for Speedway SuperAmerica LLC (SSA), which has approximately 1,600 stores in
nine states throughout the Midwest. Consequently, a 10-week pilot program began
last spring at three selected SSA locations in Lexington. To start, the chain
coordinated with the city of Lexington’s Department
of Waste, which pulled a random sampling of trash from the three sites and discovered
that, on average, 45 percent of the trash customers discarded at each gas station
could be recycled. The city then provided large recycling containers called
Rosies, which SSA placed alongside the trash bins at the three participating
stores. Over a 10-week period the chain collected a total of 2,200 pounds of
recyclable materials, which included plastic beverage bottles, aluminum cans,
newspapers and magazines (no glass containers).
“The volume of recyclables collected speaks directly to the need
to institute a recycling program in the convenience store industry,” Mr.
A year later, the three stores from the pilot program are
recycling more than ever before, filling eight to10 big roll carts per
week with recyclable materials. The success also led SSA to expand its recycling
program to 16 stores in the Lexington market last October.
At a time when more
consumers are interested in sustainability, customer response to the recycling
program has been strong. Customers have written to remark that the bins are
clearly marked and to thank the chain for implementing the program. The program
also speaks to the chain’s core values. “At
Speedway SuperAmerica, one of our most important responsibilities is to protect
our environment,” said SSA President Tony Kenney. “We care about
the footprint we leave on the environment and we hope to make it a little easier
for others to care of as well.”
To develop and maintain a successful
recycling program, it is imperative to have someone working for the city who
holds a real interest in the outcome of the program, Mr. Whittaker indicated.
it turns out, Lexington was in the middle of creating a recycling expansion
program of its own and was ready and able to support the chain’s initiative
through canister distribution and pick-up coordination.
“Easily accessible receptacles make the choice to recycle easier
for consumers,” said Mr. Whittaker. “In addition, we’ve had
an incredible amount of support from the city of Lexington, which has revamped
its recycling program after finding that 75 percent of the waste sent to local
landfills could be recycled.”
Discussion Questions: Do you agree based on the Speedway SuperAmerica experience
that there is a need for convenience stores to institute recycling programs?
What’s the likelihood that recycling programs will eventually become common at
c-store locations? What are some hurdles preventing such programs from being