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Group is developing waste-to-reused-resources network in the region

To register for the Re:Source workshops, visit programs/resource-synergy-network

Great idea for area manufacturers: a materials exchange network. Here's today's business section story:

A coalition of  sustainable industry advocates and manufacturers are forming the area’s first materials exchange network.

The effort is labeled RE:Source, the Inland NW By-product Synergy Network, said Susanne Croft, the executive director of Sustainable Resources INW. The nonprofit is using a two-year state grant to move the project forward.

“That name pretty much captures the main idea of finding a source for materials by reusing the byproducts we have in this region,” she said.

Materials exchange networks look to find ways for one company’s byproducts to be used by other businesses.

An example, not connected to the Spokane effort, was last year’s announcement by Boeing that it will send 20 million pounds per year of scrap aluminum from its Everett operations to the Kaiser Trentwood plant for reprocessing.

Part of the $108,000 Ecology Department grant will be used for two workshops, on May 22 and June 19, both at the McKinstry Innovation Center, 850 E. Spokane Falls Blvd. The presenter will be Dorothy Fisher Atwood, who works for a Portland group focusing on sustainable practices.

Croft said area businesses interested in the network should plan on attending both free sessions.

The goal is to create a network of manufacturing companies listing their byproducts to sell or trade both within this region and across the Pacific Northwest.

Inland Empire Paper Company is already using the exchange to cut costs, Croft said. The company uses large volumes of wood chips and odd wood pieces from sawmills while making pulp at its Argonne Road production center. Through the network it sells rejected wood pieces that are unusable to Barr-Tech, a large-scale composting operation near Sprague, Wash.

Inland Empire Paper is a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which publishes The Spokesman-Review.

A well-established exchange network provides multiple possible sources of byproducts, so that if supply from one provider is low, other options are available for the buyer, Croft said.

Backing the RE:Source idea is Impact Washington, a statewide nonprofit that coaches manufacturers on competing more successfully.

Patric Sazama, a regional director for the group, said companies in this area should explore the network because it will benefit their bottom line, beyond just reducing the volume of waste they would otherwise discard.

“Any time a company is able to convert a potential manufacturing stream waste to a product that another company will pay for, that is a complete win-win,” Sazama said

The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.