Milestone: Seeing Green

BBC may be seeking to expand, but it’s also looking to shrink its footprint.

Sustainability initiatives have become even more important for the Boca Raton, Fla.-based firm, according to President and CFO Donald Wilborn.

“We’re trying to make the most immediate changes that will make the most impact for our business,” he said.

Those improvements have taken place at many levels, said Josue Solano, SVP of operations. In its headquarters, BBC has moved to digital sensors to control the lights and thermostat, and has started installing energy-efficient lightbulbs. The company also switched to single-stream recycling in January for all its offices.

At the manufacturing level, BBC has begun using recycled PET for linings, recycled materials for insole boards and water-based cements in a portion of its lines for partners for whom it makes sense, Wilborn said. In the factories, the excess material and scraps generated from production are collected and recycled, so BBC can purchase the scraps for use in future manufacturing.

Solano added that another major effort has been in packaging. In addition to using soy ink and recycled cardboard in shoeboxes and hangtags, BBC has been working with retailers to eliminate tissue and move to polybags or downsize packaging — initiatives that can save retailers and consumers money, as well, he said.

And going forward, BBC is aiming to up the stakes.

Wilborn said the company would partner with Boulder, Colo.- based Renewable Choice Energy to assess the firm’s environmental impact. And BBC is considering bringing in a grad student from a local university to assist in the process. “That’s where we can set reduction targets and make them valid,” Solano said. “If you don’t measure, you may not really see any difference.”

BBC’s efforts have won it accolades from its partners, among them Krista Kokjohn-Poehler, president of eco-friendly brand Becky Bones, which joined BBC’s licensing roster this summer. “I was so impressed with their vision and leadership in this category,” she said. “I wanted to partner with a company that was leading edge.” The first Becky Bones shoes by BBC began selling at Kohl’s in July, and Kokjohn-Poehler said BBC has already lifted the product to the next level. “They’re out there seeking solutions for the future.”

The long view is what is motivating the company. “We’ve got a long way to go, there’s no question about it,” Wilborn said. “But we’ve come a very long way.”

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