Manufacturing News

Ways of reducing your carbon footprint

IN recognition of the need to protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Governments are developing new legislation in relation to carbon trading and the introduction of carbon permits.

As a result, there is a growing need for manufacturers to identify ways in which their carbon footprint can be reduced, including the introduction of innovative strategies and the latest technology. In this process, individual organisations need to ensure that an appropriate balance is established between environmental responsibility and economic viability.

Melbourne-based company Ecotech provides a range of solutions to monitor and control various types of environmental pollutants, including instruments and systems that measure CO2, hydrocarbons and CO emissions. Analysers or complete monitoring systems can be rented or purchased to measure carbon emissions and assess their impact.

Ecotech air quality monitoring systems are used in more than 30 countries, and total export sales currently account for 33 per cent of the company’s revenue. It is anticipated that this will grow to 60 per cent by 2009 and to 85 per cent within the next five years.

General manager, Nicholas Dal Sasso, emphasises that cost effective, precise and reliable monitoring of carbon emissions should be the first step in developing a viable plan to reduce emissions and meet proposed targets for carbon emission permits and licenses. “We can provide demonstration systems on a trial basis to first establish the benefit and then offer a final customised solution”, he said.

“The emissions trading scheme will be based on base carbon emissions or input conversion factors utilising multipliers. Most companies are likely to use the multiplier approach, which is reasonably accurate. I believe that emission trading schemes will be set up to choose the most pessimistic scenario, and that there will be a strong emphasis on monitoring in real time.

“Importantly, as well as helping customers to monitor and reduce their carbon emissions, we are taking action to reduce our own environmental footprint. For example, we have moved to CFC-free packaging and recycled cardboard for boxes, and customers are invited to return the packaging to us to again be recycled. In addition, we are working with our suppliers to encourage them to reuse their own packaging.

“Ecotech also endeavours to refurbish rather than replace equipment for customers. This involves ensuring a reliable supply of spare parts for as long as there is a demand. Our obsolescence policy means that customers are not forced into equipment upgrades.

“In relation to energy usage, targets have been established for energy usage per person, as well as waste per person, and these are continually monitored. Fluorescent batons have been replaced with high efficiency globes, a night timing system for heating and cooling has been installed, and compressed air tools have been replaced with direct electric drive tools to lower energy use.

“Also, rather than demolish our existing head office and build a new one, we decided to refurbish, thus reducing energy and other resource consumption, and associated emissions.”

War on waste

With plants in the Melbourne suburbs of Thomastown and Braeside, Armstrong World Industries employs some 240 people in its Australian operations, and is part of a global leading group in the manufacture of ceiling and flooring systems.

The company’s Australian flooring operation has a strong focus on minimising its environmental footprint including through recycling PVC bottles into commercial flooring, and recycling PVC scrap that would otherwise go to landfill. According to the company’s vice president South Asia, Michael Jenkin, CO2 emissions per tonne of product have decreased by 33 per cent over the past seven years. Targets to be achieved by 2010 include 40 per cent reduction in emissions and 40 per cent reduction in water usage.

“We believe that ensuring ongoing sustainable manufacturing is a critical element in countering competition. The aim is to achieve zero net hard waste to landfill through a two-part waste management program — inside and outside the fence”, Jenkin said.

“Other people’s waste is taken in and turned into quality products, and we are continually looking at alternative sources of PVC including supermarket plastic bags and vinyl off-cuts from job sites. Efforts are being made to recycle all manufacturing waste, and to take back our own flooring products, including site off-cuts and end of life products. Attention is also being given to saving water through regular checks and audits of key areas including the valving system and steam canopies.

“Energy reduction action includes the installation of solar panels and regular maintenance on oven seals. Significant savings can be achieved through monitoring of the amount of energy consumed per tonne of production, and attention to detail can unlock a lot of benefits — the success of that approach has been a big surprise. Such a program doesn’t necessarily cost a lot, and small initiatives can add up to big savings and benefits for the triple bottom line.”

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