Making a Difference

We are proud to showcase the four exceptional winners of our eighth annual Facilities of the Year Competition, which represent a variety of backgrounds and geographical areas. The dedicated personnel at these facilities have demonstrated they had the patience to figure out ways to improve their environmental performance and the savvy to implement such changes effectively. These top facilities have been singled out for outstanding environmental achievements by governmental regulators, trade associations and other professional groups.

Hewlett Packard Caribe LTD, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
The Hewlett Packard HP Caribe LTD facility has been well recognized for its environmental achievements. This year, it was selected to receive a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Quality Award. In an April 24 statement, EPA officials recognized the facility for "showing other companies in Puerto Rico how to reduce the impact of their operations on the environment in the areas of waste management, energy consumption, water consumption and less toxic material substitutions in the manufacturing process."

The facility has two different manufacturing businesses, the Puerto Rico manufacturing operations (PRMO) and ISB operations. PRMO manufactures printed circuit assemblies, laser jets, network servers, CD/DVDs and other products. ISB manufactures inkjet cartridges used in "DeskJet" and "Jet Copy" products.

Staff at the facility strives to minimize waste and increase recycling, and their efforts have paid off. The facility has increased the amount of non-hazardous waste diverted from landfills from 46 percent in 1998 to 79 percent this year, according to a recent estimate. In 2002, 77 percent of the waste generated at the facility -- a monthly average of 179 tons -- was diverted from landfills. The facility found that recycling is not only good corporate citizenship but profitable as well, as $1.9 million was generated from the sale of recyclable material.

One of the facility's waste-reduction endeavors has centered on waste ink generated from the manufacture of inkjet cartridges. The facility uses a cold-flash evaporator system, which -- at a cost of 7 cents per gallon -- operates at a water removal rate of 450 gallons per day and achieves 90 percent reduction in volume. In 2002, the facility recuperated 142,600 gallons of water that was reused in cooling towers make-up water and reprocessed 158,400 gallons of waste ink.

The system, which began operations in February 2001, required an initial investment of $140,000 for equipment and a supporting system of tanks, pumps and control system. The purchase has proved to be a valuable investment as the payback was less than two years with savings of $106,000 per year or 1.5 years. The added bonus is that the equipment is emission free.

And, there were other rewards to follow. For implementing this system, Hewlett Packard received the National Environmental Excellence Award for Best Available Environmental Technology by the National Association of Environmental Professionals in a July 2003 ceremony in San Antonio.

HP uses a lead-free, low-temperature soldering process at the facility. Legislation has been approved in Europe that will ban lead in electronic products starting July 1, 2006, and all products sold in Europe by HP must be lead-free by the deadline. Also, product take-back legislation in Japan, which became effective April 2001, is driving the elimination of lead from electronics because it forces manufacturers to pay for the cost of product disposal at end-of-life.

The facility uses biodiesel in 14 existing emergency power generators to reduce the emission contaminants level and avoid odor problems. At the facility, 1,000 gallons of biodiesel has been fed to the site's storage tanks, and company officials expect to increase this amount to 20,000, which will represent 20 percent of the facility's current storage capacity. HP is helping to introduce a bulk storage supplier of biodiesel in Puerto Rico, which company officials believe will motivate other industries to use biodiesel for emergency power generators.

Sanmina - SCI Plant 432, Fountain, Colorado
Pollution prevention and energy efficiency (P2/E2) are key components to the success of the environmental, health and safety program of the Sanmina SCI Corporation facility, which manufactures electronic products. To date, the plant has saved more than $580,000 in annual cost savings and more than $63,000 in one-time accomplishments in P2/E2 since January 2001.

Some examples of the facility's P2/E2 accomplishments during 2002-2003 include its implementation of a closed loop wastewater recycling system that saves the plant 90 percent in wastewater disposal; reusing pallets; recycling disks and CDs; and purchasing a solder recovery system that saves the plant 50 percent in solder purchases.

The Sanmina facility has received recognition from numerous sources for its environmental performance. In 2002, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment accepted the Sanmina-SCI plant into the agency's "Environmental Leadership" program. Additionally, the state of Colorado awarded the facility the "Pollution Prevention Champion" award for the efforts of its employees that lead their plant to improved environmental performance through pollution prevention. Also in 2002, the Colorado Recycles program gave the Sanmina plant three separate awards: the "Outstanding Business or Recycling Program Award," the "Don't Let It Go To Waste" award and the "Outstanding Individual Achievement" award that was given to Environmental Health and Safey Manager Mary Betsch.

The Sanmina facility has obtained certification in the OHSAS 18001 program. By taking a structured approach to health and safety, the plant has accomplished a reduction in the number and frequency of accidents, improved regulatory compliance and better managment of health and safety risks.

3M Austin Research Boulevard Facility in Austin, Texas
The 3M Austin Research Boulevard facility has a proven track record of pollution prevention. Waste reduction has been one of the top priorities of the facility. 3M measures waste reduction by measuring a waste ratio that is calculated by comparing the total weight of products shipped against the total weight of waste sent to the landfills. In 1998, the plant's ratio was measured to be 10.4 percent. By 2002, primarily through the efforts of the facility's Enviro-Tech Team, the waste ratio had been reduced to 1.6 percent.

The facility currently recycles plastics, wooden pallets, paper, corrugated cardboard, aluminum, dry-cell batteries, toner cartridges, printer cartridges, fluorescent lamps, metals and other materials. In 1999, the plant recycled, reclaimed or reused more that 179,000 pounds of materials. By 2002, the site had increased the amount of recycled materials to 330,000 pounds

EPA in 2002 selected the plant for its National Environmental Performance Track Program, which recognizes and rewards businesses and public facilities that demonstrate strong environmental performance beyond current regulatory requirements.

In 2001 and 2002, the 3M facility won the Austin Sustainable Business Council's Environmental Vision Awards for Business Practices. The facility also has won the city of Austin's Excellence in Industrial Wastewater Pretreatment Award from 1995 through 2002. Providing leadership for Austin businesses in another respect, the facility joined the Austin Energy's Green Choice-Green Energy Program and was recognized by EPA in 2002 as a founding partner in the national Green Energy Program. In 1998, the 3M plant was certified for the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System.

Another innovation at the plant is that in 2001 the facility implemented a corporate-wide Life Cycle Management Process, which is a holistic, systematic way to address Environmental Health and Safety issues associated with the manufacture, use and disposal of 3M products. All new 3M products will undergo this process prior to commercialization in order to help the company meet expectations for achieving sustainable development.

Alliant Energy Corporation Headquarters, Madison, Wisonsin
Alliant Energy is a diversified energy services provider with both domestic and international operations. Sustainability was a key component in the recent construction of the company's new 324,000-square-foot worldwide headquarters. By using recycled materials, recycling a large portion of waste generated on site and incorporating energy-saving technologies into the site's design, the company is helping to preserve resources and reduce waste.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recognized the innovative nature of the construction project and awarded the facility a Waste Reduction and Recycling Demonstration Grant to implement its recycling program. The company surpassed its goal of a 50 percent diversion rate and reused or recycled 75 percent of the materials and diverted approximately 527 tons of construction waste.

Examples of the site's sustainable initatives include the purchase of the following recycled materials that were used in the construction of the facility: 6,699 tons of asphalt and 244 tons of fly ash that was used in making concrete for footings, walls, columns and the parking garage. In addition, a large amount of construction materials were recycled: 293 tons of wood (hauled to the company Woodcycle for chipping into mulch), 97 tons of drywall used for land spreading, 72 tons of corrugated cardboard, 42 tons of metal (hauled to a scrap metal recycler), 2 tons of bottles and cans and 1,000 pounds of stretch wrap from moving carts (recycled into plastic lumber).

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system uses an off-peak storage system, which lowers energy demand and saves Alliance Energy thousands of dollars annually. Energy StarTM high-reflectance and low-emissivity roofing also was used to conserve energy and extend roof life. As well, special windows were used to allow the light in while keeping the heat out.

This year the Federation of Environmental Technologies and the Wisconsin Department of Commerce selected the facility to receive the Governor's Award for Excellence in Environmental Performance.

Nominations for Our 2004 Facilities of the Year
Do you anticipate that your facility will be formally recognized in 2004 for pollution-prevention strategies, innovative design or other environmental accomplishments? If so, please let us know and we'll consider it for the title of one of our next Facilities of the Year, which will be featured in our October 2004 issue. Every year we single out the top industrial plants, water and wastewater treatment operations, landfills or other facilities that have been recognized for outstanding environmental achievements by governmental regulators, trade associations or other professional groups. The deadline for submissions is July 1, 2004.

This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2003 issue of Environmental Protection.

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