Case Study: Employee Engagement in Waste Minimization – Ashland
The right partnership and a culture of sustainability make a big difference.
Employees at Ashland Consumer Markets (ACM) East Rochester, Pa., site have taken on the challenge to decrease environmental impact by curbing energy usage, reusing, reducing and recycling waste. In the past two years, ACM facilities across the globe have combined to recycle approximately 8.3 million pounds of materials while reducing the amount of solid waste generated by 10 percent. There has been significant effort placed on educating employees on conserving, eliminating, reducing and recycling waste.
As a leader in recycling and waste reduction, the East Rochester plant initiated the program more than three years ago by establishing housekeeping and maintenance standards that eliminated many leaks and drips, thus reducing oily water shipments. The ACM engineering group even designed a drip less sample port that eliminated drips and collection buckets that were always a challenge to manage. In the past, these containers collected storm water, additives and oil that ended up as a waste stream rather than being used in product. In the past fiscal year, the site reduced its oily waste shipments by 99,000 pounds.
The team then identified the next opportunity – reduce waste generated from operations. Their mission was to make recycling convenient and easy so that it can be sustained. Employees set up a central collection area by the plant maintenance shop to collect and segregate miscellaneous waste for recycling. Teaming up with the right recycler also made a big difference. The recycler takes all of the site’s recycled materials, allowing for more frequent shipments and less storage. “If sorting materials is a challenge for other sites, consider teaming up with recyclers that will take mixed materials and sort the waste streams,” suggested Mike Critchlow, plant manager at the East Rochester site.
The results are significant – last fiscal year, East Rochester reduced its overall solid waste generation by 48 percent and increased recycled materials by 26 percent. “Our sustainable successes in increasing our recycling efforts and decreasing solid waste generation could not be accomplished without the efforts of all of our employees,” said Critchlow. “In East Rochester, our team has been extra diligent in ensuring all items that can be recycled are placed in the proper receptacle. Recycling has become sustainable and is part of our culture.”
ACM’s Ten Team and operations manager at the ACM Cincinnati facility are now standardizing East Rochester’s practices across the ACM supply chain. For example, the Cincinnati and East Rochester plants both changed their recycling companies and the new company began accepting many materials that had previously been land filled as solid waste.
[This case study was featured in the GEMI Quick Guide for Engaging Employees in Sustainability.]