By: Dan Fogel, Sustainability Graduate Programs Director

The Graduate Sustainability Programs at Wake Forest University allow students to gain firsthand knowledge and experience through a diverse set of world-class projects. Business partners also gain valuable insight into their operations by participating in student-led, client-based projects. Among these opportunities is the Hanesbrands, Inc. Zero Waste initiative—a global project to minimize waste disposed directly to landfills. Graduate students work with HanesBrands to design and implement a program in which all waste is reused, utilized for the production of energy, or recycled for cash.


Photo courtesy of HanesBrands

During the week of spring break, consulting students will visit several HanesBrands textile production facilities in El Salvador to research best practices and identify opportunities to improve waste management processes. El Salvador facilities have implemented many innovative waste processes that are representative of actions taken by Hanes manufacturing facilities worldwide, yet there are many unique challenges remaining for processing waste. For example, Wake Forest students will learn how these facilities handle the waste stream of sludge (a byproduct of on-site industrial wastewater treatment systems associated with textile manufacturing facilities) and propose more sustainable solutions, including processes to increase landfill diversion.

The team of students will present their findings to senior leadership at Hanes in May at the conclusion of the project. Presentations will include a baseline study of all waste throughout their facilities, recommended policy and procedural changes, and suggestions on how Hanes can generate additional cash from its waste. This information will be supplemented with results from benchmarking studies on relevant companies, vendors, consultants and various waste management associations. Presentations to corporate leaders in Winston-Salem will be phrased in terms of legal restrictions for handling waste streams, a research initiative conducted by a Wake Forest University law student and supervised by Chris Fox, a double DEAC (Wake Forest MBA/JD) and Hanesbrands, Inc. Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Affairs.

Consulting project leaders are Dan Fogel, Sustainability Graduate Programs Director and Jon Clift, the programs’ Director of External Affairs. The team of Wake Forest graduate students includes Laura LoSciuto, Lauren Newton, Eric Panicco, Joey Burtner, Alison Ringwood and Kelsey Gaude in addition to Tim Woodin, a Chemistry undergraduate student. Two Wake Forest MA in Sustainability graduates and Hanesbrands, Inc. employees are also involved in the project— Philip Hunsucker, Environmental Sustainability Analyst, and Philip Henson, Senior Manager of Energy and Environmental Sustainability.

“HanesBrands is proud to engage with the Wake Forest Graduate Sustainability program on our Zero Waste project. The project provides a living laboratory for students to see issues through a real-world lens that reveals a business case for applied sustainability that they may encounter in their future careers. The students are professional and very intelligent, and their engagement with us has uncovered valuable insights and opportunities. The project serves as a catalyst for Hanes to prioritize its efforts and focus more attention on our solid waste management and zero waste initiative,” says Henson.

The Sustainability Graduate Programs at Wake Forest thrive on these partnerships. For more information contact Jon Clift at Wake Forest University (336-758-4464;