Sustainability 101 Case Example: Ashland

Ashland is a global specialty chemical company operating in more than 100 countries. The chemistries Ashland provides enable pharmaceuticals that excel in form and function, anti-aging ingredients in skin-care products, more sustainable building products, lighter yet stronger wind-turbine blades, and advanced recycled motor oils that reduce energy consumption.

One of Ashland’s business units (Valvoline) needed to respond to a request from a major customer (Walmart) about its sustainability efforts. Valvoline had not previously embraced sustainability and needed to develop a program that over time addressed specific requirements. The sustainability effort was led by the Senior Vice President of Valvoline and driven through the organization down to the operational sites.

The results of Valvoline’s initiatives have led to reduced energy consumption, reduced waste generation, and (in several cases) zero landfill sites. Water reduction was minimal, since the business did not consume large quantities of water. Conservation efforts have maintained water consumption to pre-2012 levels.

[This case study originally appeared in GEMI’s Sustainability 101 Quick Guide.]

Case Study: Employee Engagement in Waste Minimization – Ashland

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.]

EPA’s ENERGY STAR® Certification

Valvoline World Headquarters Office Earns EPA’s ENERGY STAR® Certification

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Ashland Inc. (NYSE: ASH) today announced its Valvoline world headquarters office has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR certification, which signifies that the building performs in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency and meets strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the EPA.

During a celebration hosted today at the facility and attended by company, local and state officials, Ashland was commended for its efforts.

“Energy efficiency is the quickest and best step businesses and individuals can take to help Kentucky’s economic growth by keeping energy costs low. Through ENERGY STAR, companies like Ashland are provided the tools and resources so that government, businesses and industry can put energy efficiency to work in the marketplace,” said Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters. “On behalf of Governor Steve Beshear and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I commend Ashland Inc. for their commitment to preserving the environment, reducing energy consumption, and ensuring a healthy, safe work place for years to come.”

“Ashland is pleased to accept the EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification in recognition of our energy efficiency efforts,” said Michael Cornett, director, facility services. “This achievement reflects our company’s commitment to Responsible Care* and our goal of reducing or eliminating emissions, discharges and wastes from our operations while also promoting energy efficiency and resource conservation. Valvoline now joins two of our offices in Dublin, Ohio, that obtained ENERGY STAR certification in 2010.”

Commercial buildings that earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical buildings and also release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

To earn the ENERGY STAR, Ashland took the following actions at Valvoline’s office campus:

  • Replaced T-12 fluorescent bulbs with T-8 Fluorescent bulbs; halogen can lights with LEDs; and parking lot lighting with LED fixtures;
  • Added photo cell sensors to certain outdoor lights converting them from 24/7 operation to dusk-to-dawn;
  • Added variable frequency drives to most equipment, allowing the motors to run at a reduced speed rather than 100 percent utilization;
  • Adjusted the operation of the cooling towers to reduce water usage; and
  • Replaced a gas-fired boiler and hot-water tank with high-efficiency boilers, and rebuilt a 300-ton chiller adding a frequency drive.

“We have worked extremely hard over the past to few years to identify and implement modifications to drive energy efficiency. In addition to our electrical and mechanical changes, our employees have assisted our efforts by focusing on energy conservation and waste reduction,” said Tim Heaberlin, manager, facility services.

EPA’s ENERGY STAR energy performance scale helps organizations assess how efficiently their buildings use energy relative to similar buildings nationwide. A building that scores a 75 or higher on EPA’s 1-100 scale may be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification. ENERGY STAR was introduced by EPA in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Today, the ENERGY STAR label can be found on more than 65 different kinds of products, 1.4 million new homes, and 20,000 commercial buildings and industrial plants that meet strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the EPA. Visit for more information about ENERGY STAR Certification for Commercial Buildings.

About Ashland
Ashland Inc. (NYSE: ASH) is a global leader in providing specialty chemical solutions to customers in a wide range of consumer and industrial markets, including architectural coatings, automotive, construction, energy, food and beverage, personal care and pharmaceutical. Through our three commercial units – Ashland Specialty Ingredients, Ashland Performance Materials and Valvoline – we use good chemistry to make great things happen for customers in more than 100 countries. Visit to learn more.


Gary Rhodes
Director, Corporate Communications
Ashland Inc.
+1 (859) 815-3047

Dick Brown
Executive Director
Office of Communications and Public Outreach
EEC/PPC/Labor Cabinet

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