[Post author: Wayne Duke]
Members of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s (IDEM’s) Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) have made monumental achievements in reducing their environmental impacts while lowering manufacturing costs. To usher in the new year, the members have generated a list of the top 10 ways businesses can save money while minimizing environmental impacts within their manufacturing operations.
- Substitute returnable packaging containers for cardboard with repeat customers and internally between operations, reducing the amount and costs associated with solid waste disposal.
- Replace solvent-based paint systems with water-borne paint or powder coating systems, eliminating emissions of volatile organic compounds.
- Identify and repair process steam and compressed air leaks to reduce energy use and lower energy costs.
- Conduct a life-cycle analysis for raw materials and replace high life-cycle cost items with lower environmental impact products.
- Share savings reaped from environmental goals with employees and associates to further stimulate, generate, and encourage more ideas and excitement towards environmental initiatives.
- Absorb labor costs for recycling by using all employees for very short periods of time rather than using full-time workers solely for recycling activities.
- Turn off lighting when not in use and install energy efficient lighting technology, like motion sensors, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL), and light emitting-diodes (LED).
- Recycle all materials, including scrap, waste, and extra materials left over from processing.
- Ensure your organization has the right level of permit which often can change as you make your operations more environmentally-friendly.
- Take advantage of IDEM’s free Pollution Prevention Opportunity Assessments to identify alternative chemicals and improve operational efficiency.
“As an ESP member, our facility has recognized cost savings with the programs we have implemented,” said Darrell Hart of Hendrickson Trailer Suspension Systems. “Our employees are taking recycling programs home as well as asking for more programs to implement within the facility.”
To become an ESP member, a business must maintain an exemplary compliance record, certify that it has adopted and implemented an approved environmental management system, and commit to specific measures for continued improvement in its environmental performance.
Many of the environmental improvement initiatives also contribute to significant cost savings within the facility. Members qualify for expedited permit review, flexibility in permitting, reduced reporting frequencies, and coordination of compliance inspections in exchange for going above and beyond environmental requirements. To maintain membership, companies must report on their environmental initiatives every year and reapply for ESP membership every three years.
“Any improved process that can reduce the bottom line while at the same time reducing any impact on the environment is worth considering,” said IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly. “If they don’t know where to start, I would highly encourage business owners to take advantage of IDEM’s free Pollution Prevention Opportunity Assessment.”
Additional information can be found by visiting www.idem.IN.gov/prevention/esp.