Strength in Sustainability: Recycled Plastics Helping Create Critical Pipes for U.S. Infrastructure

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We should all want to increase sustainability—in businesses and in our lives—but what does that look like? Sustainability is most often synonymous with products being renewable and eco-friendly, preventing adverse environmental impacts. The Plastics Pipe Institute (PPI) believes the future of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe—a light weight, durable pipe used in public drainage applications that doesn’t leak or corrode—embodies these sustainability principles.

Standards for corrugated pipe made with virgin HDPE resin, or unprocessed materials, have been around for decades. But rising demand for sustainable materials led the Department of Transportation to evaluate whether pipe made with recycled HDPE resin matched the long-term performance of pipe made with virgin HDPE resin. The resulting report—and subsequent research by academics—found that the service life of HDPE pipe made with recycled materials could be predicted using a standardized test and that the recycled resin could be held to the same standard as virgin resins. As a result, by the end of 2017, two new standards—one through the American Society for Testing and Materials and another through the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials—were approved, allowing HDPE pipe made with recycled resins.

Prior to these standard revisions, corrugated HDPE pipe manufacturers in North America were diverting nearly a billion pounds of recycled plastic materials from landfills in production for pipe used outside of the public right-of-way and in agricultural applications. The new standards allowing the use of recycled HDPE drainage pipe within the public right-of-way will dramatically increase these quantities. This shift toward using recycled products presents an opportunity for design engineers and public utility agencies seeking to reduce their overall environmental footprint associated with storm drainage projects. An impending Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) conducted by Franklin Associates is set to conclude in 2019. The LCA will show that drainage pipe manufactured with recycled HDPE material has the lowest environmental impact of any pipe materials currently on the market for drainage applications. Corrugated HDPE pipe is demonstrating the strength in sustainability—and saving businesses money while promoting smart environmental stewardship.

Mosaic’s Commitment to 4R Nutrient Stewardship

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The Mosaic Company is the world’s leading producer and marketer of concentrated phosphate and potash crop nutrients. Our products help plants grow and produce the food, fiber, and fuel the world needs for a growing population. Mosaic is also committed to protecting global water resources, which are vital to helping these crops grow and ensuring communities thrive. This commitment is part of Mosaic’s broad sustainability efforts.

Fertilizer is a vital agricultural input and investment – one that requires agronomic knowledge and careful planning. When crops grow, they absorb the nutrients in the soil, and when those crops are harvested, the nutrients go with them. Because soil fertility is not self-sustaining, nutrients, applied as fertilizer, must be added each year to ensure future crop growth. From a sustainability standpoint, an important challenge to address is nutrient runoff. When nutrients run off farmland into a waterway, they can contribute to impairing water quality and nourish algal blooms. Other sources of nutrient runoff include livestock manure, urban storm water, municipal wastewater discharge, and lawn fertilizer. It is in everyone’s best interest that nutrients are used efficiently.

Mosaic supports and promotes the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework to achieve the agricultural benefits of fertilizer and reduce nutrient loss to the environment. To fit under the framework, crop nutrients must be applied using science-based 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices to mitigate potentially negative environmental impacts stemming from improper use. It takes testing, research, planning, measurement and collaboration to determine which nutrient management practices are most effective, adaptive and scalable.

4R Nutrient Stewardship encompasses fertilizer best management practices to achieve specific cropping system goals, including maximizing profitability and environmental protection. To achieve those goals, the 4Rs framework incorporates the Right nutrient source, at the Right rate, at the Right time, and in the Right place.


The concept of 4R Nutrient Stewardship is simple, but implementation is knowledge-intensive and varies farm by farm. Other agronomic and conservation practices, such as tillage practices and cover crops, play a valuable role in supporting nutrient stewardship. As a result, fertilizer best management practices are most effective when combined with other agronomic and conservation practices.

Mosaic is committed to nutrient stewardship, but we cannot do this important work alone. We seek partnerships with organizations that have the local relationships and knowledge necessary to advance nutrient stewardship in a way that maximizes positive impact. Because growing conditions and agricultural needs vary greatly by crop and geography, local knowledge is critical to success of these partnerships.

Since 2004, Mosaic has invested over $19 million with over 100 organizations on water-related initiatives, including nutrient stewardship. Our efforts have increased adoption of 4R practices on over 6.2 million acres in North America within the last 5 years. The resulting impact is optimizing nutrient use efficiency for maximum farmer profitability while improving water quality in agricultural landscapes.

Energy Efficiency Legislation Paves the Way for Smart and Sustainable Manufacturing

By | Energy, Environment, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Sustainability | No Comments

This week, Senators Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire and Lamar Alexander from Tennessee introduced the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Act (S. 715), a bipartisan bill that would support manufacturers—particularly small- and medium-sized manufacturers—in adopting advanced technologies to increase their sustainability by improving the energy efficiency and productivity of their facilities and operations. Representatives Peter Welch from Vermont and Tom Reed from New York also introduced companion bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1633) in the House. The National Association of Manufacturers has been a longstanding proponent of The Smart Manufacturing Leadership Act and looks forward to working with Congress as these measures moves forward.

The legislation would leverage existing Department of Energy programs and resources at the National Labs to ensure that advanced technologies are being considered to reduce energy consumption. Additionally, the measure would establish a competitive grant program for states to assist small- and medium-sized manufacturers in implementing smart manufacturing practices. Manufacturers have taken the lead in making energy efficiency a priority and remain committed to reducing their energy intensity while producing more energy efficient products. Manufacturers already implement energy efficiency solutions to reduce their costs, become more competitive and help lessen environmental impacts. The industry continues to lead the way in deploying sensible efficiency and waste reduction measures and embracing the importance of utilizing state-of-the-art energy efficient technologies. In fact, manufacturers contributed 19 percent more value to the American economy over the past decade while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent.

Manufacturers are committed to increasing their productivity, expanding their businesses and doing so in a way that is sensible, smart and sustainable. During the 115th Congress, the NAM supported the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Act, and we applaud Senators Shaheen and Alexander and Representatives Welch and Reed for reintroducing the bill this Congress. Their leadership continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to policies that promote energy efficiency to improve manufacturing and benefit the environment—and we will urge Congress and the administration to enact this legislation into law.

Shaping a Sustainable World with Novelis

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At Novelis, sustainability is core to our business – from how we operate within our company to how we partner with our stakeholders across the aluminum value chain. Together, we see tremendous opportunity in continuing to expand the use of lightweight, infinitely recyclable aluminum to meet today’s demanding performance standards while reducing energy use. We collaborate with our customers around the world to develop innovative solutions to lightweight vehicles, improve packaging to better protect beverages and construct buildings that are more energy efficient and beautiful to enjoy.

Novelis is the leading buyer and recycler of used beverage cans (UBCs) globally, recycling more than 65 billion UBCs each year. Aluminum beverage cans and bottles are the model of sustainable packaging and, with an average “can-to-can” lifecycle of just a couple of months, a can that is recycled today can be back on store shelves in just sixty days.

In addition to serving the beverage can industry, Novelis is a lead supplier to many of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world. Together, we created the first, and largest, closed-loop recycling systems, which allow us to take back as much of our customers’ aluminum scrap as possible, turning it back into the same product again. Closing the loop preserves the value of the alloy, reduces recycling and transportation costs, minimizes environmental impact and establishes a secure supply chain. Through collaboration with our customer, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), we created the first closed-loop system in Europe with a dedicated railway service to efficiently deliver material between Novelis and JLR’s manufacturing sites. Building on the success of this model, we worked with Ford Motor Company to create the world’s largest closed-loop recycling system in North America.

Across all of our value streams, Novelis has made significant progress toward increasing the use of recycled aluminum and minimizing the use of natural resources. Recycling aluminum produces 95 percent fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and requires 95 percent less energy than primary aluminum production, enabling Novelis to achieve lower GHG emissions despite increasing global production capacity. Last year, Novelis achieved an average of 57 percent recycled aluminum inputs, an increase of 25 percentage points from the baseline averages of fiscal years 2007-2009. Novelis also reduced its GHG emissions by 25 percent for the same baseline years, achieved a 28 percent reduction in water intensity and a 24 percent reduction in energy intensity.

By leveraging and investing in our own sustainability efforts, we are able to preserve precious natural resources and help our customers meet their evolving sustainability goals.

To learn more about Novelis’ sustainability efforts, click here.

Jabil Drives Sustainable Solutions in Smart Packaging

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Plastic is foundational to modern society, as it is used in everything from medicine to transportation to consumer goods and packaging. More than 300 million metric tons of plastics were produced worldwide in 2015. Yet, less than 9 percent of the plastic we use every day is recycled; most of it ends up occupying landfills or polluting the ocean.  The enormity of this situation is undeniable.

Jabil Packaging Solutions (JPS) recognizes it has an important role in the fight against plastic pollution, and is driving advancements in smart packaging with better, easier ways to reduce, reuse and recycle and drive toward a circular economy. When our JPS site in Atlanta began working with a new customer, we took at look at their processes and we made them more sustainable.

For years the customer had been receiving its packaging product in cardboard boxes which then had to be cut, broken down and compacted. JPS switched to reusable plastic totes and lids, which is not only more sustainable, it paid for itself after 6.5 turns – less than 10-percent of its lifecycle. In partnership with the customer, JPS also reduced the size of the product, making it 22-percent lighter and saving 3,000,000 pounds of plastic a year.

And one of our healthcare facilities has initiated a “waste rebirth” solution where more than 20 types of plastic manufacturing waste have been repurposed to create chairs for schools and art supplies for local charities. This effort has enabled the facility to achieve an impressive 96 percent recycling rate with zero waste produced onsite going to landfill.

JPS is taking this issue seriously. We understand change is inevitable; the linear packaging lifecycle is inefficient and harmful to the environment, and we must adapt to the idea of a circular economy that benefits both the economy and businesses. JPS is innovating for a circular economy, engaging new solutions that will drive greater sustainability.

Our work supports the many brands we call customers. To achieve the vision of a more efficient and environmentally friendly future, JPS partners with customers, offering innovative solutions to achieve their sustainability goals. For example, Keurig Green Mountain pledged to make 100 percent of its K-Cup® pods recyclable by 2020. Through innovative product designs and advanced production technologies, Keurig is meeting its sustainability and performance goals while giving consumers the eco-friendly product they demand.

We applaud the amount of deliberate effort it takes to examine entire product lifecycles and rethink how products should be designed, made, delivered and reused. Jabil is committed to helping our customers move toward a restorative, regenerative circular economy by preserving natural resources, designing for recycling and reducing environmental impacts.

We continually partner with customers to select sustainable materials that meet their product requirements. Each material used for is tested and qualified to provide customers with durable products made from sustainable materials. Initiating continually viable solutions requires time and consistent effort that our teams across Jabil are focused on every day.

While it will require time and consistent effort to bring innovative new solutions forward on the sustainability front, we regard this action toward sustainability as an invaluable investment in the future. We are improving business, preserving the earth and enabling a higher quality of life for future generations.

We believe that the key to developing long-term solutions is to engage our customers as partners on the journey to sustainability. By combining different resources, expertise and capabilities, we can create solutions that will contribute to solving global environmental challenges, help our customers and partners meet environmental goals and deliver new and exciting products to a market the craves it.



Whirlpool Keeps Its Promise, Delivers Sustainability Wins

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At Whirlpool Corporation, we are committed to being a responsible corporate citizen, both because it’s the right thing to do and because it’s good for business. This year, we furthered our commitment by taking a number of steps to minimize our impact on the environment while also supporting our employees and the communities in which we live and work.

As we advance our global sustainability strategy for the 10th year in a row, we remain a company that prides itself on making positive change to affect people’s lives in meaningful ways. We are committed to going above and beyond the expectations, targets and reports, by making our products in plants that are more efficient and in sourcing materials and energy in ways that make a significant difference in lowering not just our carbon footprint, but also positively impacting our consumers and communities in which they live.

Our focus on conserving our planet’s resources continued this year. We met our 2020 goals for energy and water usage three years early and have set new sustainability goals, which exceed the original U.S. commitments to the Paris climate accord. We also expanded our use of on-site renewable energy, including our wind turbine program in Ohio and solar program in India. We are proud to be one of the largest on-site users of wind energy in the United States. Furthermore, we are committed to manufacturing more water and energy-efficient, high-performing products, helping consumers save money while lessening their impact on the environment.

We will continue to take a science-based approach to setting absolute environmental targets from the 2005 baseline. We invest in on-site renewables, achieving emission reductions and lowering costs and creating more resilient plants. We have achieved zero manufacturing waste to landfill in plants in multiple regions. In products, we continue to deliver valuable efficiency while improving the core performance our consumers expect. We are driving sustainability into how we design, build, distribute, sell and care for our products in their use and at the end of their life.

A version of this blog was found in the Whirlpool Corporation 2017 Sustainability Report. To view the full report, click here.

Volvo Commits to Sustainability by Reducing Energy Usage

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At the Volvo Group, we are committed to sustainability. It is our ambition to be part of the solution to improving how our products and operations impact the environment. We follow the triple bottom line—People, Planet, Profit—framework to ensure we “walk the talk” when it comes to our core value of “environmental care.” Practically, this means that we focus our efforts strategically in three key areas:

  • Production
  • Partnerships
  • Products

Production: Energy-Efficient, Renewable, Landfill-Free

Three of our largest operations, which make up greater than 85 percent of the energy footprint among our facilities in the U.S., are certified (Platinum) ISO 50001 Energy Management System/Superior Energy Performance. Through these programs and our participation in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings, Better Plants initiative, we’ve reduced energy consumption at our factories by 25 percent, five years ahead of our original target. We’re now more than halfway to achieving our new goal of 25 percent more in energy savings by 2024.

And while actions like these at the site and corporate level have a large impact, many new energy-saving ideas actually come from our employees. The Volvo Group partners with the DOE to conduct energy “treasure hunts,” in which employee teams observe their facilities during idle or partially idle periods (e.g., weekends, evenings) to identify energy waste. Events in 2017 at Volvo Group truck manufacturing plants in Virginia and Pennsylvania identified approximately $700,000 in low-cost or no-cost energy-efficiency opportunities. An additional treasure hunt at our bus service center in New Jersey uncovered $12,000 in potential savings opportunities, which was equivalent to 34 percent of the utility expenditures.

Renewable energy is also playing a part in our commitment to environmental sustainability. For example, the Volvo Group partnered with ConEdison Solutions and Entropy Solar Integrators to design and install a parking lot solar canopy—among the largest on the U.S. East Coast—at our Hagerstown, Maryland, powertrain manufacturing facility. Covering the plant’s entire north parking lot, the 5,000-panel solar canopy produces 1.3 megawatts of electricity, which is delivered to the facility to help offset the plant’s electrical demand. Because solar panels emit zero emissions, energy produced by the solar canopy is equivalent to eliminating the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 236 average passenger vehicles.

We created the Volvo Energy Network of North America (VENNA), a network of individuals who drive energy-efficiency and the transition toward renewable energy use and carbon neutrality throughout our North American operations. Through VENNA, we implemented a “learning by doing” model, which allows us to share best practices with plants within the Volvo Group in North America.

Partnerships: Taking a Leading Role

The Volvo Group stays connected to the global conversation about environmental sustainability through participation in a number of voluntary governmental and nongovernmental programs. In addition to DOE programs, we also take part in the World Wildlife Fund Climate Savers program and the Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps Program. Mack Trucks, part of the Volvo Group, recently teamed up with The Nature Conservancy to bring awareness for land and water conservation to employees.

Products: Driving Prosperity Through Transportation

The Volvo Group has a mission of driving prosperity through transport solutions, and environmental sustainability is a key part of that. We participate in a number of programs and partnerships that enable us to develop and test sustainable solutions.

Most recently, the California Air Resources Board announced a grant award of more than $44 million to the South Coast Air Quality Management District and Volvo to develop all-electric truck demonstrators in California with commercialization planned in 2020. The Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project includes 16 partners and is a truly transformative freight facility project that will realize commercialization and market penetration of heavy-duty battery electric vehicles in California and throughout North America. In addition to all electric trucks, the project will integrate non-truck battery-electric equipment, nonproprietary chargers and solar energy production equipment to facilitate zero emissions freight movement.

Through our participation in the DOE SuperTruck program, we have also developed technologies to improve the energy efficiency of our vehicles that are currently on the market. We’re participating in SuperTruck II, developing next-generation technologies to increase the efficiency of our vehicles.

We offer alternative fuel options for many of our vehicles, and several Volvo and Mack models have recently been approved for the California Air Resources Board Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project.

By Dawn Fenton, Volvo’s Director of Sustainability and Government Affairs and Rick Robinson,Volvo’s Director, Health Safety & Environment