The Green Manufacturer Network’s latest one-day Zero-Waste-to-Landfill workshop, held May 18 at Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. (SIA) in Lafayette, IN, was attended by 125 people-the vast majority being manufacturing executives hoping to learn how to make their operations more sustainable, eco-friendly and profitable.
This workshop was the second such event presented by the Green Manufacturer Network. The inaugural event was held Dec. 1, 2010 in Gaffney, SC, and included a tour of Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.’s plant there.
The second event included a tour of the SIA plant, which became the first zero-landfill plant in the United States in 2004, and presentations about SIA’s journey to zero landfill.
Tom Easterday, executive vice president, welcomed the attendees to start the event.
“The environmental effects of the middle and end cycles of auto manufacturing are being addressed well,” Easterday said. “We are here today to focus on the start of the manufacturing cycle.”
Denise Coogan, REH, CHMM, and SIA manager of safety and environmental compliance, also spoke.
“Dumpster diving is the first step to zero landfill,” Coogan said. “It lets you see everything you’re using and wasting, and better understand the process you’re using to get this result.”
Steve Walker, manager of environmental sustainability for Burt’s Bees since June 2007, saw the company reach its goal of being zero landfill in Oct. 2009 while doubling in size, from 200 to 400 employees.
“Do not say ‘waste,’ say ‘total by-product management’,” Walker said. “This includes weighing everything that leaves the building.”
Lisa Pirwitz is section manager of physical logistics for BMW MC in Greer, SC. Pirwitz acknowledged that BMW MC isn’t zero landfill yet but is making progress toward that goal. For now, the company is focusing on making its assembly shop zero landfill by the end of 2012. After that, BMW MC will try to reach the same goal for its body and paint shops.
“Wastewater treatment sludge is our biggest challenge, as it accounts for 32.5 percent of our landfill waste,” Pirwitz said. “However, overall we’re sending 6 kilograms per vehicle to the landfill, which is about one-third less than what we sent in 2009.”
The event also included presentations from representatives of federal and local government agencies. Jacob Hassan discussed the WasteWise program. He is the program’s coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency Region 5.
Jennifer Schick spoke on Indiana’s state pollution prevention programs. Schick is the branch chief of the Indiana office of pollution prevention and technical assistance.
Finally, a three-person panel discussed ways to eliminate sending materials to landfills. The panel featured Matt Green, senior program manager of Heritage Interactive Services; Brooke Farrell, CMO and founder of www.RecycleMatch.com; and Seth Smith, president of Diversified Green Solutions LLC.
Audience questions focused on ways manufacturers could rid themselves of large amounts of materials they can’t use, rather than just sending it to the landfill. Panelists suggested selling the materials through a material brokerage house or web sites like www.RecycleMatch.com, which Farrell described as “an eBay for trash.”
Attendees also wanted a clear definition of the term ‘zero landfill.’ “A generally accepted definition is 10 percent or less of your facility’s waste is going to an energy-to-waste facility,” Coogan said. “However, there’s no governing body to define the term.”
Green Manufacturer, a bimonthly magazine published by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, co-sponsored the event.
The Green Manufacturer Network’s next Zero-Waste-to-Landfill Workshop will be Dec. 7, 2011. It will take place in Durham, NC, and be hosted by Burt’s Bees.