Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2020):
By Richard Yerema and Chantel Watkins, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jun 15, 2020)
Here are some of the reasons why Sylvis Environmental Services Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2020):
- Sylvis Environmental Services' employee-led Green Team's guiding vision is to "increase the sustainability of Sylvis and improve the social and environmental conditions of where we live and work"
- As part of this vision, Sylvis Environmental Services implements four initiatives (two social and two environmental) per year, per region -- social initiatives focus on the betterment of an individual community or group and environmental initiatives focus on the betterment of soil, air, water quality and the protection of flora and fauna
- Sylvis Environmental Services' head office features communal garbage, recycling and composting bins (having eliminated individual garbage cans) -- there is even a two-dollar penalty jar for those who use one-time use containers -- impressively, there has only been one fine levied (at the time of writing)
SYLVIS is passionate about ending waste
Employees at New Westminster, B.C.-based SYLVIS Environmental Services Inc. happily refer to each other as “SYLVites.” And what exactly is a SYLVite?
“It’s someone who is passionate about environmental stewardship,” says Vanessa Menunzio, the company’s business development coordinator. “They are also creative innovators who are ready to don their super-hero cape and come up with environmentally sustainable solutions others might not think of.”
Mike Van Ham, who founded SYLVIS a quarter century ago and is its president, provides some further colour on what makes an ideal SYLVite.
“We’re a group of geeks and nerds with a fanatical attention to detail and who are addicted to learning,” says Van Ham. “We are always asking questions and thinking about how we can do things differently and better.”
That kind of passion for detail and stewardship has helped make SYLVIS an industry leader in residuals management. The company serves municipalities and private companies across western Canada as well as in the United States.
SYLVIS specializes in taking waste products from municipal and industrial processes and putting them to beneficial use. A couple of examples: using biosolids from a wastewater treatment plant to fertilize trees and treating landfill leachate with a fabricated soil made from residuals.
Other residuals management opportunities implemented by SYLVIS include land reclamation, biomass plantations and climate change mitigation programs.
“Our ultimate sustainability is dependent on the innovative management of the waste products we create,” says Van Ham.
Sustainability is also emphasized in the company’s day-to-day-operations.
“We measure all our resource use, including water, natural gas and electricity,” says Van Ham. “We have a graph on the wall where we plot those numbers every month and divide them by the number of SYLVites we’ve got. The goal is to grow incrementally without consuming more resources.”
Employees are encouraged to pursue their own innovations. A few years ago, Menunzio came up with the idea of removing all garbage cans in individual offices in favour of communal garbage and recycling drop-off points.
“It makes people think about their waste and how else they might dispose of it,” she says.
The latest passion for SYLVites is to get rid of single-use cups and Styrofoam food containers.
“If you walk in with one of those from the local coffee shop or restaurant you can expect a bit of public shaming,” says Van Ham. “We give employees reusable cups and food containers to employ instead.”