By its very nature as a recycling company, Interwest Paper has an important environmental mission, but over the past four decades, Interwest has taken that mission to extraordinary levels. From cardboard and paper to plastic and glass, Interwest recycles a greater variety of materials -- and a greater amount of materials -- than the typical recycling company. The company also extends its value by providing its customers with a full spectrum of waste and recycling equipment.
Over the past four decades, Interwest has diverted 7.8 million cubic yards of trash away from landfills and saved 15.2 million trees from Western forests.
Interwest President Smokey Peck and Marketing Director Beau Peck care for their employees as well as the environment. “We hired a safety director to help manage our plants,” Smokey Peck says. “That means more upfront costs, but in the long run, it means all of our employees are safe, and that more than pays off.”
“We are also really proud that we pay 75% of health insurance premium costs for our employees,” he adds. “After a year on the job, this expands to include dependents. Benefits like this really help us attract and retain good employees.”
Interwest has always been comfortable with government policy that supports recycling, but its bigger motivation comes from its customers.
“We certainly like that Salt Lake City is starting to mandate that businesses and apartments recycle 50% of wastes,” says Beau Peck,” but we do our work because of market demand. Our customers don’t care if the government mandates recycling; they want us to help them recycle because they want to be ‘green.’ Change is actively supported at the corporate level.”
Fast-growing customer demand for recycling has helped Interwest expand just as dramatically.
“We’re growing so fast we can’t see straight!” Beau Peck says cheerfully. “We’ve grown about 33% in gross volume in the last three years and we recently invested $3.5 million dollars in a new facility. Our customers want more service and we are happy to provide it!”
The Pecks attribute much of their success to having “a business model that is all about adapting to what customers need.” Says Smokey, “We make a point of touring customer companies and other facilities to hear first-hand what people want from us as they move to more and more ‘green’ practices.”
As Interwest Paper has grown, sustainability has evolved from being simply a business to becoming a social norm. “Being environmentally responsible and helping others to be that way is engrained in our very brand,” Beau says. “It’s just the right thing to do.”
Interwest’s owners encourage others to increase their own sustainable practices. “It’s a smart way of doing business and it’s a good way to bring in new business. In our industry, the more we recycle, the more we help other businesses be more profitable,” Smokey says.
ASBC helps companies like Interwest tell their business success stories to policymakers as well as to other companies. As a member of ASBC Interwest can help shape policy to ensure that other businesses integrate the values of sustainability -- and profit from their benefits.