Most people love to hear a business success story that highlights innovation and growth. When a company’s success incorporates an integrated waste management strategy, the story gets even better and worthy of sharing.
Established in 1937, Dart Manufacturing Company began as a modest business in Mason, Michigan. The company produced such products as plastic key cases, steel tape measures, and identification tags for the armed services. Then, in the late 50’s an innovative product from expandable polystyrene was developed that would dramatically change the foodservice and beverage industries. Providing convenience and efficiency, a line of high quality insulated foam cups was introduced to America, and Dart Container Corporation was born.
Soon the white foam cup was used in restaurants to hold hot or cold beverages. It seemed the white foam cup was everywhere in the 60’s. America was on the move, and Dart Containers emerged as a company aligned with the new mobile economy. Consumers immediately recognized the benefits of foam cups over the then-popular paper hot cups, and sales took off. Dart's early success in the foam cup market was further fueled by its commitment, still evident today, to providing customers with excellent service and products of consistently high quality.
By 1969, Dart had 100 employees and 4 plants. The next three decades brought even more innovation in plastic cutlery and plates; customized color foam cups with a business logo; the hinged lid tray so popular with takeout food chains; and clear plastic foodservice containers. Today Dart has 7500 employees, 20 plants, and 16 million square feet of production and manufacturing space.
Dart’s Green Commitment
Sustainability has always been part of Dart’s mission and philosophy. “Dart maintains a commitment to efficiency, convenience and responsibility,” says Recycling Manager, Christine Cassidy. “Dart’s drive for efficiency fosters the creativity that generates innovation. Sustainability, stewardship, and reducing our carbon footprint are new means of expressing a deep-rooted ethic at Dart.”
Dart became a member of NERC in 2014. “NERC has been a great resource and has taught me a lot about the recycling industry,” says Cassidy. “It is nice to meet people that share a commitment to recycling and I enjoying working with many of them to expand recycling even further.”
Recycling Dart’s Foam Products & Producer Responsibility
As the leader in the manufacturing of foam products, Dart Container assumes the responsibility of product stewardship in many ways. Dart operates a website at www.homeforfoam.com that connects buyers and sellers of PS foam, provides information about how new programs can be created, and it also provides other valuable information including a list of PS foam recycling locations.
The Dart Recycla-Pak program developed for restaurant and point-of-purchase establishments is an easy way for any business to recycle their foam cups. The specially designed Recycla-Pak corrugated collection bin is offered for sale so any business can efficiently start recycling foam cups.
The Recycla-Pak collection bin doubles as the shipping carton used to return the collected cups for recycling at a Dart or industry recycling facility. The bin is shipped to the business to collect used foam cups for recycling. During use, the divided interior of the bin keeps the collected cups neatly stacked. This serves to maximize the number of cups that will fit into the bin as well as discourage users from depositing anything but their used foam cups.
Marketing materials about recycling foam cups and foodservice containers are also available from Dart.
The CARE (Cups Are Recyclable) program helps large operators using foam foodservice products separate the foam from other products, consolidate the collected material and arrange to have it recycled. Recycled foam foodservice products can be reprocessed into picture frames, crown molding, and many other products.
Todd Sutton, “The Waste Sleuth”, follows the process of recycling polystyrene foam from the MRF to a person’s living room in an 11:00 minute video that also previews Dart’s efforts in collecting and densifying the crumbled foam to ready the material for new uses.
Click here to view the video.
2010 marked Dart Container Corporation’s 50th Anniversary. A family owned and operated business now in its third generation, Dart has kept pace with customer demand and 21st century recycling. “We’re grateful that we have been able to respond to market demands by offering an ever-expanding line of quality products while maintaining the highest level of customer service,” says Christine Cassidy. “Dart remains committed to responsible recycling of our products integrating our waste management strategies into all that we do. We are proud of the many awards we have won in environmental protection and sustainability and will work to keep our standards high in this area of our business.”