Crown Cork & Seal's Expanding Program Shows That Room to Grow is Made Here

Crown Cork & Seal's Expanding Program Shows That Room to Grow is Made Here Main Photo

21 Aug 2023

Area Companies, More Is Made Here, Business News

The winners of the Conroe Economic Development Council’s 2022 Economic Development Community Partner Award, Crown Cork & Seal has consistently looked for ways to benefit Conroe. An initiative around recycling is Crown Conroe’s next way to engage the community and improve sustainability. With a new strategic approach and expanded collaboration with community stakeholders, Crown Cork & Seal displays that Room to Grow is Made Here.

As a manufacturer of aluminum cans, which are 100 percent recyclable, it’s natural that Crown Cork & Seal would have big ideas around recycling. There are 15 can manufacturing plants in Crown North America, and Crown Conroe alone manufactures 2.4 billion cans annually. Sustainability is at the core of Crown after all. In 2020, the company unveiled a global plan called Twentyby30, which outlines twenty environmental, social, and governance goals the company hopes to complete by 2030. Crown Conroe is doing its part by implementing a strategic and robust recycling program in coordination with the Montgomery County Fair & Rodeo. The company has a mantra that “every can counts,” and this initiative emphasizes that.

“Our culture trickles down from the top. We have the Twentyby30 sustainability project and we use that energy from corporate to drive this program,” said Darwin Canales, Quality Assurance Manager with Crown Cork & Seal in Conroe. “‘Every can counts’ is something that is ingrained in us when it comes to production and the same thing when it comes to recycling and sustainability.”

Taking the “every can counts” approach led Crown Conroe to the idea of enhancing recycling at the Montgomery County Fair & Rodeo, one of the area’s largest events. Piloted at the 2022 event, Crown Cork & Seal collected approximately 8,000 cans over the 11-day event. This success was achieved with only ten recycling receptacles and showed Crown Conroe that the program had room for growth.

After the success in 2022, Montgomery County Fair & Rodeo and Crown Conroe leadership moved forward in further collaborating on this recycling initiative and Crown Conroe was named the Official Recycling Partner of the Montgomery County Fair & Rodeo. Both teams sat down ahead of 2023 to develop a heat map of where rodeo attendees spent their time each day of the event. Utilizing this data, Crown was able to move receptacles to more effectively reach daily crowds.

Crown Cork & Seal increased the number of receptacles to 50 and doubled their size, as well. The company’s skilled employees, who volunteered more than 300 hours at the fair & rodeo, also engineered the receptacles, shaped like aluminum cans, to keep attendees from lifting the lid to dispose of non-recyclable trash. These improvements led to Crown collecting nearly 60,000 cans in 2023. It was clear to the Crown Conroe team that there was community buy-in and Crown Conroe’s efforts were making a difference.

“The biggest reason for the increase in 2023 was that we started to understand the trend of how the rodeo works. Now that we have the lay of land, we are looking at ways to improve even further,” said Brent Jones, Quality Process Engineer at Crown Conroe.

Not satisfied with the rapid growth from year one to year two, Crown Conroe has developed a comprehensive gameplan to optimize recycling at the fair & rodeo in April of 2024. The company has a goal of collecting 100,000 cans.

One of the ideas being implemented for the April event is to “crown” tents that recycle. Companies will be able to purchase as many receptacles as they want, with the company that recycles the most cans being “crowned” Kings of Recycling. The money used to purchase the receptacles will drive increased collection of the cans which increases money raised from the recycled cans. The majority of funds raised will be donated to scholarships for students participating in the fair & rodeo.

By generating corporate and community buy-in, Crown Cork & Seal believes that the recycling program can soar to new levels.

“We are just scratching the surface. Our objective is not just to recycle cans, but to install a program that remains, not just at Crown, but in Montgomery County years from when we retire,” added Jones. “We want to be that light that shows everyone that this is how you do it.”

Crown Cork & Seal sees opportunity for recycling growth beyond the Montgomery County Fair & Rodeo. Jones and Canales talked about making recycling a community movement, which speaks to the importance of amplifying stakeholder participation. 

Crown Conroe’s long-term commitment to sustainability drives the company to identify creative solutions that will leave a legacy in Montgomery County. The momentum around recycling at the fair & rodeo and the company’s commitment to expanding the program there, and around the community, provides optimism for growth. Crown Cork & Seal is showcasing that Room to Grow is Made Here!