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Abt Lives Green, Makes Green

Store's Recycling Center Open To Public

By Hosea Sanders

Friday, October 23, 2009 | 5:24 PM

October 23, 2009 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- It doesn't have to be mutually exclusive. Take a look at an iconic Chicago business that has found a way to both live green and make green.

It's no secret that the huge Abt Electronics store in Glenview is one of the most financially successful operations in the industry, but now the company is being recognized by environmentalists as one of the most earth-friendly major corporations in the country.

"We run bio-diesel trucks. We've put in place a solar panel array on our roofs, wind turbines. And we've just started selling solar and wind power as well," said Mark Cook, Abt general manager.

This enormous complex is generating some of its own energy, which is part of the company's "mission."

"It was important to us that we built a recycling center and we made sure that when we leave a customer's home it's actually greener than when we got there," said Cook.

This is the centerpiece of the company's environmental efforts: a gigantic re-cycling center that turns around tons of material everyday.

"We try to recycle everything that comes from customer's home: cardboard, Styrofoam, plastics, so very little goes into the garbage stream," said Robert Taylor, Abt operations manager.

Styrofoam recycling is especially important here because it takes about a thousand years for that material to break down naturally in a landfill.

"We came up with a machine that actually densifies it 90% smaller, so now it becomes a raw material that can be sold on the marketplace. It can be sold on the marketplace. People make picture frames or plastic woods and it's not going into the landfills. It's being used in a new product," said Taylor.

They do the same with cardboard, plastics and other discarded material, which reduces the company's own garbage bill by about $50,00 a year in hauling fees. This mega-recycling center is open to the public. It's a place to bring old electronics and appliances.

"Electronics is really a big one now. People are trying to do the right thing and find a place to put it other than a landfill," said Taylor.

People said it's all aimed at not just moving merchandise, but saving the planet as well.

"We're going to take care of the trash; we're going to give you a more energy-efficient piece. We're going to take care of making you a more environmentally-friendly consumer," said Cook.

The Abt Recycling Center is located open Thursday through Sunday from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. Get more information at abt.com/green/

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