The 2009 Assembly Plant of the Year strives to be a lean and green facility. Batesville Manchester has an active environmental program that focuses on waste disposal and efficient use of energy.

“The drive for productivity must never take precedence over the obligation to be responsible corporate citizens in the community and responsible stewards of the environment,” says Mary Jo Cartwright, director of operations. “[We believe that] efforts to improve processes, to increase output and deliver greater profits are best and most sustainable when achieved in harmony with the community and its needs. The best improvements are ones which provide benefit to the environment, enhance the community, improve the safety of the worker and still deliver significant financial gain to the company.”

Batesville Manchester’s recent transition from zinc die-cast components to plastic provides a good example of the plant’s green philosophy. “This modification improved our environmental position by reducing the use of natural gas and water resources, while also reducing waste emissions from the plant,” says Cartwright. “It benefited the community by giving the water and sewer processing capacity back to the community where it was most needed. It enhanced worker safety by eliminating large furnaces and other dangerous equipment. Finally, the new plastic components provided significant financial and productivity return to the company. Everyone benefited.”

Another example, also associated with the plant’s use of zinc, is the transition from zinc lubricant to K-Lube, a potassium-based lubricant, in the rubber extrusion process. That effort yielded similar improvements in cost, waste emissions, and needed water and sewer capacity.

Batesville Manchester also is proud of its recent energy management system upgrade, which replaced hundreds of old, outdated lights with new more energy-efficient fluorescent lighting. “This improvement reduced energy consumption,” says Cartwright. “With the rising costs of energy, it has made a significant impact on operating costs and has impacted the visual inspection of [caskets].”

A company-wide environmental initiative is called the Living Tree Planting Program. When a family purchases a Batesville casket, the local funeral home arranges for a tree to be planted through Batesville’s Living Memorial program. Since the program was initiated in 1976, more than 11 million trees have been planted around the world. “The Living Memorial program helps ensure that future generations will know the beauty of a green planet-a lasting legacy to a life well lived,” notes Cartwright.