Sometimes trash is just trash. 
And sometimes, with a bit of effort, someone can turn that trash into treasure. 
Exact Sciences’ Zach Pulliam knows this well. The senior fleet operations specialist’s work involves trucking items between company buildings in Madison, Wis. During his day-to-day, he noticed that the company was disposing of tons — literal tons — of scrap metal. That included tossing it in dumpsters with the other landfill-bound garbage or paying for specialty containers or haul-away service for hazardous materials.  
Pulliam figured the company was acting responsibility but still had room to improve. In April 2022, he started a program for collecting scrap metal. He placed a well-labeled 55-gallon bin on wheels at warehouse and lab locations in Madison to encourage employees to separate metal from other waste, which they began doing right away. Once a quarter or so, Pulliam makes the rounds to the buildings, collects the metal, and delivers the contents to a local scrap yard.  
In a little over a year, Pulliam’s program has kept an astonishing 22,000 pounds of Exact Sciences scrap metal out of landfills and increased chances of the metal being reused elsewhere. It’s also saved the company money by avoiding haul-away fees, since the scrap yard also accepts items such as microwave ovens, which require special disposal. 

Benefitting earth and community alike 

The effort could have ended there. But once Pulliam learned that the scrap yard paid money for valuable metals such as aluminum and stainless steel, he separated those out from the load, delivering them to a different building at the yard and collecting a check. 
Pulliam is heavily involved in a local Meals on Wheels program, so he knows firsthand how much charitable programs benefit from donations. He wondered if it would be possible for Exact Sciences to donate the money, rather than keeping it on the books. 
“I got the $200 and went to my manager,” Pulliam remembers. “It wasn’t a ton of money, but a couple hundred dollars can go a long way for some programs.” 
Like pieces of scrap metal, dollars can add up too. Pulliam’s team helped set up a process for Exact Sciences to send along the scrap-yard funds to The River Food Pantry. The organization, south-central Wisconsin’s busiest food pantry, serves 2,500 people a week, with outreach including delivering free groceries, providing mobile meals, and stocking emergency food lockers.  
Exact Sciences’ metal donations have totaled about $3,500. In July, Pulliam attended an event in which the pantry unveiled a new mobile meals truck, which donations helped to fund. 
Seeing a truck outfitted to deliver produce and meals wherever they’re needed, “it felt so good knowing the scrap metal checks go to this cause,” Pulliam says.  
It also feels good to work for a company that would support a project like his, he says. 
“If you have good idea to make something better or help our community, that’s important to Exact,” he says. “Ask questions, speak up, talk to your manager. This is the first company I’ve worked for that lets us do that, and that’s really important to me.” 
Pulliam continues to build on the all the good his project has produced. He’s signed up to be a pantry volunteer and can’t wait for his first outing in the new meals truck. 
For him, a feeling like that is far from scrap metal — it’s gold. 

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