The Gold-level certification award. Businesses are certified for two years and then may re-apply. Credit: Solid Waste Management Department

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The ReWorksSA program launched in 2018 with a purpose of helping San Antonio area businesses develop or improve recycling programs in the workplace. A division of the City of San Antonio’s Solid Waste Management Department, ReWorksSA sought to certify and recognize businesses with three tiers of awards: bronze, silver and gold.

The certifications were based on a series of points awarded for recycling and organics best practices. The program was well received and resulted in over 130 certifications. It also won several industry awards.

In mid-2020, it was determined the program’s design should expand to include adjacent best practices in other areas of sustainability. A collaboration between the Solid Waste Management Department and the Office of Sustainability was initiated and a project plan was created. The goal of the project team was to successfully add the sustainability attributes of water conservation, energy conservation, transportation efficiencies and general “green” policies such as purchasing and reducing consumption.

Due diligence during the research and development phase was conducted through interviews with existing San Antonio organizations that operate within these specific areas. The objective was to hear from them what would be considered a viable best practice. These subject matter experts included the San Antonio River Authority, VIA Metropolitan Transit, CPS Energy, the EPA, San Antonio Water System and other entities that are experts in solar energy, electric vehicles, composting and other areas of sustainability.

The certification guide and scoring matrix were completely transformed to include these four new sets of best practices. To remain true to the program’s beginnings, a minimum of points was required for recycling programs. Given that certification was requiring more from these businesses and organizations that applied, a fourth, higher level of certification was created and named the Pinnacle Award.

The newly transformed program was presented to the San Antonio City Council and received a positive response. The City of San Antonio had an existing Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) produced by the Office of Sustainability. ReWorksSA received the designation as an official Climate Initiative of the City as a component of the CAAP.

The launch of the enhanced program included press releases, development of new collateral, design of the Pinnacle Award trophy, extensive content development for the website and traditional media, social media and targeted digital advertising campaigns. Some of the messaging highlighted to businesses the research showing that both customers and employees care about an organization’s environmental social responsibility. ReWorksSA could grow your business and help you find and retain top talent.

Some business-to-consumer messaging was also part of the campaign. San Antonio residents were reminded they could find, and do business with, businesses that have the city’s sustainability as a top priority. The call to action was a visit to reworkssa.org to find a directory of certified businesses on an interactive map. This became a point of interest for businesses, especially small ones, that with certification comes a boost to their own advertising budget.

Additional benefits to small businesses were the availability of recycling containers at no cost; a create-on-demand signage maker at the website, and all consulting services offered at no cost. A “resources” page listed service providers the certified businesses could engage for various recycling and sustainability services. The program also boasts larger companies. Toyota, Frito-Lay, H-E-B, and Valero Energy have all been certified. ReWorksSA is also available to nonprofit and other organizations such as schools, churches and community centers.

The Solid Waste Management Department does not collect commercial accounts. However, the ReWorksSA team can help companies learn how they can work with private haulers to provide sustainable options. The program has a “right-sizing” tool that calculates recycling volume to help businesses ensure they are paying the correct fee for their specific volume.

During the pandemic, the ReWorksSA team has made all the services available virtually. This includes consultations, follow-up meetings and certification site inspections. All ReWorksSA tools and services are offered at no cost. For more information or to begin the certification process, visit www.reworkssa.org.

ReWorksSA

ReWorksSA, a division of San Antonio's Solid Waste Management Department, provides consultations about sustainability best practices in the workplace to the local business community at no cost.