Wilheit Packaging Partners with Southern Waste & Recycling
For Southern Waste & Recycling, achieving our company mission of environmental stewardship means carefully selecting partners that not only believe in our goals but also want to work with us to further them for our clients. One of these companies is Gainesville-based Wilheit Packaging.
In 1953, when Wilheit Packaging was founded in a garage by Tom Wilheit (Philip Wilheit Sr.’s grandfather) no one could have envisioned the changes that would take place in the industry. In a time before convenience became a mainstay of society, companies were focused on delivering a quality product rather than worrying about their impact on the environment.
Today, that has changed, and Wilheit is leading the charge. The Gainesville-based company, which managing partner and sales manager Philip Wilheit Jr. says has been “really pushing sustainable packaging” for the past five to six years, currently supplies some of the most environmentally friendly packaging products available.
From stretch films that are biodegradable and those that are stronger and thinner than ever (reducing materials use by 40%) to molded paper containers made from leftover pulp, Wilheit is at the forefront of sustainability initiatives in the packaging industry.
A friendship between SW&R President Phil Kitchens and Wilheit led to them discussing their common interest in sustainability a few years ago. The result has been a pioneering collaboration to provide an end-to-end solution for packaging materials.
As part of a plan to encourage customers to recycle, Wilheit and SW&R are rolling out a new program where loose and baled cardboard will be returned in empty delivery trailers to Wilheit’s Gainesville facility. Then the material will be separated by the customer and marketed at the appropriate time to capture the highest possible return. This off-site storage program will prevent customers from having to store baled or loose cardboard material on their property or from trailers occupying additional dock space. SW&R initially provided recycling services for Wilheit when customer-stored poly and paper-based materials became obsolete. In the past 4 years, Southern Waste & Recycling has helped a number of Wilheit’s clients develop recycling programs so that more materials could end up at a recycling facility instead of a landfill.
After SW&R’s recent success in developing a sustainable, multi-facility recycling program for one of Wilheit’s largest poultry-processing customers, there was a realization that together they could really make a difference. Today, Wilheit and SW&R perform sustainable, cradle-to-grave processing for some of the biggest customers of packaged materials in the state of GA. Wilheit and SW&R are expanding their partnership and expect to have a noticeable impact, statewide.
Customers reap a measurable benefit as well, because they reduce their overall waste expense, receive credits for the materials they recycle and have a great, “green” story to share with clients. “Wilheit has the same initiatives as SWR,” says Kitchens. “We have created an alliance based on these synergies: environmental focus, stewardship and creating sustainable programs for end-to-end solutions.”