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Auto parts maker cleans up

Martinrea International Inc., a Vaughan-based auto parts manufacturer, was recently announced as the sponsor of a public art exhibit, using 80 garbage and recycling bins to help beautify Toronto.

EcoMedia Direct Incorporated, which owns and operates the bins it calls “three-stream” SilverBox Public Space Recycling Street Art units, announced the partnership with Martinrea on Oct. 3.

“I think that giving back to the community is a good thing and this is kind of a novel way to do it,” said Rob Wildeboer, chairman of Martinrea. “If you’re going to have recycling receptacles, it’s not a bad thing to have things that actually are fairly appealing to the eye.”

EcoMedia already owns and sells advertising space on 3,600 of the silver boxes across Toronto and Markham. The boxes Martinrea is sponsoring, in addition to offering street-level recycling, are part of EcoMedia’s Street Art Recycling Bin Program.

The boxes will feature artistic works and artist biographies, Wildeboer said.

One of the groups benefiting through the street art program is the Recycling Council of Ontario

“With this major announcement with Martinrea International, the program has been elevated to a whole new level,” Recycling Council executive director Jo-Anne St. Godard said.

Wildeboer said Martinrea took this step because it sees itself as “being a good corporate and environmentally conscious citizen”, though he did acknowledge there was a business angle to the move.

“You can be environmentally sensitive in a lot of different things that you do and keeping our cities clean is certainly one,” Wildeboer added.

Publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Martinrea employs 7,000 workers in more than 30 manufacturing plants worldwide, including 500 employees at its two Woodbridge facilities.

“We encourage people to get involved in their communities on an individual basis,” Wildeboer said.

The Martinrea plants and headquarters in Vaughan sponsor everything from apprenticeships to sports teams. Wildeboer said the company “tends not to boast about it too much,” but added it was proud of its environmental initiatives and would like to do more in its hometown.

“What I would like Vaughan to do, quite frankly, is recognize the value of the beautification program, approve the same type of thing that Toronto has, and then we’ll get some boxes up here,” he said. “I would like a box outside each of our plants if we could; I think that it’s an excellent idea for Vaughan.”

Wildeboer said Martinrea will continue to sponsor the boxes and is on the lookout for fresher, greener ways of conducting itself.

“It’s typical of our thinking that being green is actually a good thing,” he said. “It’s good business and it’s good charity.

“It’s a good way to think.”

Vaughan Today
Friday, October 19, 2007
Page: 6
Section: Vaughan Business
Byline: Philip Alves