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March 8, 2012

EHS: Profit Center or Circumstantial Overhead?

By christophermeeks March 8, 2012

Historically, most companies have viewed their EHS department as a necessary evil that must be retained to avoid regulatory infractions.  However, some companies have shifted their thinking to include their EHS departments as profit centers through re-classifying wastes as revenue streams and identifying opportunities for cost reductions and cost avoidance.  This transition is becoming more noticeable as companies implement ISO programs, look for ‘Greener’ products and attempt to reduce the use of raw materials.  The following include techniques to demonstrate to executive managers that an EHS department can serve as more than just an overhead expense:

  • Lighting Upgrades – improve the quality of lighting in work areas, reduce cost, reduce certain pollutants emitted when generating electricity
  • Finding Markets for ‘Wastes’ – re-classify ‘wastes’ as feedstock in another company’s process to eliminate disposal costs, receive revenue, reduce regulatory requirements
  • Searching for Product Alternatives – compare ‘real’ price of existing materials versus ‘real’ price of using less hazardous materials
  • Deploy ‘Source Reduction’ – evaluate processes to implement procedures that significantly reduce or completely eliminate waste before it is created

And, as always, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT.  Without an accurate baseline, results are hard to demonstrate.

July 11, 2011

Have the next great “green” product idea?

By Jennifer Wilson July 11, 2011

Greenovation Logo

If you do, then enter a Greenovation Contest, a competition that encourages companies to pursue the development of green product concepts. This Greenovation Contest offers DFW area companies an opportunity to win a grand prize package of services that will help winners take a green product idea and turn it into a real product.

More information about the contest visit http://greenovationcontest.com/.

Dates and prize package information coming soon!  Stay tuned!

April 19, 2011

Are you really open to new ideas?

By kmiddelkoop April 19, 2011

It was the second day of the E3 process and still the company refused to believe or accept that there were opportunities to improve.  The day before we had shown them lights left on, areas over lit, compressed air leaks and poorly insulated equipment.

Recycling Container

Recycle by coljox, on Flickr

The facility manager was a long time employee of the company that had been in business for over 50 years. He nursed an unlit cigar that he held in the side of his mouth.  I keep asking myself why did he not want to change?  Could it have been that the company was making lots of money or the fact that he was close to retirement?  Maybe he had just gotten lazy and was set in his ways. Was I going to be like him one day?  

So we keep to the agenda of the E3 (Energy, Environment, Economy)…an on-site 2 day training to help manufacturers understand ways to reduce costs, utilities and other impacts to the environment.  We took the group for a walk outside their buildings to look at things…we had just trained them on Learning to See, an exercise to help identify non-value outputs from their processes.   The group included TMAC staff and 4 employees of the company.  This included the maintenance manager, operations manager, quality engineer and someone from the sales staff. 

Learning to See

As we walked around the property the maintenance manager commented saying “you guys just won’t give up..there is nothing out here to find”.  We were running out of time, just one more hour and the workshop would be over. This was going to be a disaster…. So we walked up to one of the 60 yard solid waste containers, it was closed.  I stood the group together in front of the dumpster and asked the team how much they spent each year on disposal.  They all looked at each other and said “oh maybe $4,000 per year”.

Why Are We Doing This?

So we took a look inside and discovered that there were over 100 wood pallets inside.  Then someone said that this was just one of 3 containers that were picked up weekly.   Then the operation manager turned to the others and asked “why are we doing this? How long have we been doing this?”  For the first time the facility mangers cigar pointed to the ground as they all look puzzled.  Once again the E3 process produced the results we were looking to find.  The actual cost to dispose of their wood pallets was over $60,000 per year. This expense could be fully eliminated through recycling or reuse. 

I slept better that night knowing that it wasn’t up to me to find future opportunities, but to just let the process lead the way.

November 12, 2010

Is Sustainability important to your consumers?

By Tom November 12, 2010
Microgeneration Certification Scheme

Image via Wikipedia

A growing number of the population is jumping on the sustainability band wagon.  Customers want, or at least say they want, products that do little or no harm to the environment.  They want to buy locally grown food.  They want to control emissions of green house gases. 

They want all of these things, until faced with decisions that fundamentally change their daily lives.

They don’t really want to give up their SUV for a hybrid vehicle or, heaven forbid, they use public transportation.  All we have to do is look at the vehicles on the road. 

Continue reading “Is Sustainability important to your consumers?” »

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