“At the root of the services we provide is the desire to help our clients protect and be good stewards of the environment and natural resources. We live this core purpose by operating our business with an eye toward sustainability, continuously looking for changes we can make to lessen our impact on the environment.” — Mac Hodgson, President and CEO, The GEL Group, Inc.
For over 40 years, The GEL Group, Inc. (GEL) has followed a mission to improve the environment for our clients. As the world expands its knowledge and capabilities to protect our Earth, sustainability programs have shown a measurable improvement in protecting our natural resources and enhancing environmental and human health. Sustainability programs often start with a seed of one or two initiatives and grow over time as companies see the value in being good stewards of the planet and GEL is proud to take part in this global effort.
The GEL Group, including its members GEL Engineering, GEL Solutions, GEL Laboratories, and Cape Fear Analytical instituted a multi-phase sustainability program at the Charleston, South Carolina headquarters with programs rolling out to satellite offices across South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, and Kentucky in the future.
Sustainable Recycling Efforts at GEL
The over 320 employees of GEL routinely use recyclable products including aluminum, paper, plastic, and glass. From sample bottles to reports and packing materials, the laboratory analysts and consultants produce over a ton of recyclable materials per year. GEL partners with local governments and industry leaders to recycle these materials creating less waste in landfills, supporting the manufacturing of new products, and promoting the preservation of our natural resources.
Aluminum, Paper and Plastic Recycling
Aluminum, paper, and plastic items at GEL Charleston and our satellite offices are recycled through the city and county recycling programs. Designated recycling bins for these materials create a simple method for employees to quickly segregate aluminum cans, paper products, and plastic bottles that can be reused.
Over the past year, the company’s completed project files were converted to electronic documents for permanent storage. The paper files that are recycled are used to manufacture new paper goods rather than triggering tree harvesting from pristine forest areas. Plastic and aluminum cans, and materials used in the laboratory, field sampling, and consulting areas are also recycled through the cities and counties allowing the items to be transformed into new, usable products.
GEL partnered with Fisher Recycling, LLC of North Charleston, South Carolina to recycle glass from the Charleston facility. Between everyday consumer goods and laboratory samples and analysis bottles, glass is one of the largest categories of recyclables for the company. Through Fisher Recycling, waste glass is given a new life rather than adding to overcrowded landfills.
Solar Panel Brings New Energy to GEL Charleston
The GEL headquarters in Charleston, SC works on a round-the-clock schedule to meet our client’s analytical and consulting deadlines. Between office and laboratory space, analytical machines, and computer systems, the Charleston office requires substantial power to operate. Solar panels installed on each of the two largest buildings in 2016 harness the sun’s energy to power the company.
Solar panels convert the sun’s energy to electric energy which allows GEL to power the buildings with a reduced need from Dominion Energy’s power grid and a substantial reduction in the amount of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere. The GEL solar panels provide a reduction of over 61 tons of CO2 emissions per year, thus reducing our carbon footprint and protecting the atmosphere. Using solar panels is the ultimate sustainable practice as the sun’s power is available indefinitely without a reduction or depletion in the energy source.
Employee Volunteering for Sustainable and Humanitarian Initiatives
The GEL Group and its employees are dedicated professionals who enjoy helping others in our communities and around the globe. A cause close to our hearts is Water Mission, which was founded over 20 years ago when George and Molly Green owned GEL. Water Mission is a Christian engineering, non-profit group that provides sustainable clean water to areas experiencing natural disasters and to developing nations. Although Water Mission is a separate entity from The GEL Group today, many of our employees remember the day that the idea for Water Mission was born in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch. Every year GEL employees volunteer for Water Mission's initiatives and fundraising efforts such as the annual Walk for Water.
GEL employees also participate in community-based programs to further the sustainability focus in our area. One of the company’s Principals, Tom Hutto, serves as the Board Chair for Sustain SC. Tom’s career as a professional geologist working on environmental issues across the state gives him a unique perspective on the programs that will result in a positive impact on the natural surroundings where we live and work. Sustain SC promotes sustainability practices to the state’s businesses which ultimately benefits South Carolina residents through improved natural resource management, a robust economy, and preservation of the natural beauty of our mountains, rivers, and beaches.
The Furman University Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities in conjunction with Sustain SC launched an education program to expand the sustainability movement. The Sustainability Leadership Initiative is designed to provide business leaders and conservation professionals with actionable information and training that can be used to implement sustainability practices across a range of industries. Mr. Hutto and Mr. Jim Posda of GEL Engineering recently completed this program. This specialized knowledge benefits the company and our clients as we explore future sustainability projects.
Future Sustainability Initiatives at The GEL Group, Inc.
The GEL Group is committed to finding new ways to protect our natural resources. In the next few months, we will partner with a leader in cardboard, paper, and plastic recycling to help us efficiently reuse the packing boxes from our materials and equipment shipments and to find additional avenues for paper and plastic reuse.
GEL will roll out additional sustainability initiatives to our satellite offices and evaluate other ways to further reduce our environmental footprint. Future sustainability endeavors that GEL is evaluating include:
- Community outreach and education,
- Expanding our supply chain partners to include companies with like-minded sustainability goals,
- E-waste recycling,
- Lowering emissions through electric fleet vehicles and charging stations for employees,
- Including green-certified and eco-friendly office products in our daily activities,
- Ensuring that our materials are responsibly sourced,
- Partnering with universities and community groups to develop robust sustainability programs for our clients and employees,
- Supporting outside companies who are also dedicated to environmental protection, and
- Finding new and innovative ways to reduce waste and consumption of natural resources throughout our locations.
Finding ways to preserve our planet is an ongoing effort and part of GEL’s company mission today and for the years to come.
Do You Need Help with Your Sustainability Initiatives?
If you are looking for assistance in developing a sustainability plan for your company, GEL is happy to help. Our environmental staff is ready to meet with you, tour your facility, and develop an action plan that is easy to follow and implement. Please email us at [email protected] to get started.