Case Studies

JCPenney Partners with Recycling and Waste Solutions in Zero Waste Initiative

The Primary Objectives are Simplifying Complex Waste and Supply Chain Management, Cutting Costs and Reducing their Environmental Footprint.



Leading American Retailer, JCPenney partners with Recycling and Waste Solutions (RWS) to develop a program for establishing an efficient waste and recycling management system in an effort to simplify its complex waste processes, increase efficiencies and cost savings, and reduce its environmental footprint.



As a successful retailer, JCPenney produces a wide variety of merchandise across more than 875 stores nationwide, where there is a critical need to maintain customer satisfaction through high quality products and customer service. The complex supply chain between its store locations and distribution centers however, produced a significant amount of waste that was difficult to dispose of efficiently. In order to find a solution for the waste issue, JCPenney needed to establish a program that helped manage waste and recycling throughout all divisions of the company.

JCPenney determined that the most important factor of an effective waste management system is how cohesive the process would be throughout the supply chain. Understanding the implementation of the program for the areas of the company directly involved in the waste process, JCPenney was also aware that it needed to have a system that reduces overall costs in order to increase revenue.

Without having the proper system or network (more than four hundred vendors) in place to dispose of waste and recyclable materials that could be repurposed, JCPenney was spending a significant amount of time and money. In doing so, JCPenney was also not aligned with its goal of becoming more environmentally friendly.


The retailer sought RWS’s partnership and leadership in order to help identify the best cost-effective methods to reuse materials and create a system that would solve a variety of complex value chain challenges. RWS partnered with JCPenney with a dedicated team to manage day-to-day operations of the program as well as developing improvement plans to increase efficiency on all levels of the supply chain.

The program that the RWS team put in place not only addressed the challenges recognized by JCPenney as pain points, but also established the benchmarks for the retailer to reach a zero waste output. The program consisted of a system that would repurpose packaging and other waste materials, reduce the amount of deliveries and pickups through consolidated and reverse logistics, and increase efficiencies to increase revenue.

Maintaining and managing the different elements of the project,RWS would oversee the daily waste and recycling processes (for example, hangers), monitor the reverse logistics program and usage of new equipment, while ensuring cost savings through applied analytics. Taking a hands-on approach, the team discovered new ways for all materials to be recycled to continue eliminating unnecessary waste that otherwise go to the landfill, while also consulting JC Penney on additional cost-effective measures to manage waste issues.

The initial step was to install new equipment to increase efficiency in diversion. Downstroke bailors were installed to densify material to bale, and anew network of vendors was set up to coordinate pick up at the store level. For every ton of material diverted, cost savings were accrued from reducing material sent to landfill, while revenue increased from diverted material sale.


Critical to maintaining efficiencies and cutting costs would be the reverse logistics program designed and implemented by the RWS team to ensure that vendors delivering merchandise to stores also received their recyclables and waste to return back to their respective distribution centers (DCs). This new system, of course, eliminated excessive mileage and reduced emissions from multiple truck routes. This centralized approach was applied to the film, boxes, hangers, etc. of nationwide locations. Hangers specifically, were also designated from boxes to sacks in order to maximize the volume of material that could be moved from stores back to DCs.

This detailed approach to get JCPenney to a zero waste program which included equipment installation, employee training, increased revenue through material diversion and reverse logistics, and resulted in increased efficiencies across the national retail system and a highly reduced environmental footprint.


Through its partnership, RWS was able to deliver efficient and cost-effective results that align with the business goals of JCPenney, a top retailer that sought to improve its environmental footprint as well as lower costs to increase overall revenue. Specifically:

  • The collection of hangers in polyester lined super sacks instead of boxes resulted in 2235.70 tons of hangers being recycled.
  • Greater monitoring capabilities including the RWS Waste Audit APP and the use of robust backbone analytics.
  • Increased innovation including deep dive audits, equipment optimization and disaster relief planning.
  • Reduction of toxins released from company trucks by implementing a reverse logistics program. The program resulted in a total of 170,170 barrels of oil, 8,230,710 gallons of gasoline and 59,977 total acreage of forest sequestered.
  • Monitoring updates on waste disposal legislation to prevent heavy fines from city governments.
  • Installation of downstroke balers to develop waste that is easier to transport and convert.
  • Positive environmental impact through an increase in packaging commodities that are being diverted from landfill.
  • Reduced emissions and mileage through reverse logistics program.

About RWS

Recycling and Waste Solutions provides the nation’s largest supply chains with innovative managed solutions for Commodity Recycling and Waste Services that reduce cost, drive commodity revenue and improve overall services through flawless execution. Managing thousands of locations with hundreds of thousands of work order requests takes proven tools and dedicated resources. RWS knows the full corporate value of sustainable environmental and economic waste solutions.

For more information, please visit www.recyclingwaste.com