Mack has invested time, funding and research in sustainable manufacturing and environmental protection, and the results are starting to pay off. Chief among its accomplishments are advances in processing recycled materials (see article, Creating Quality Flooring from Scrap PVC), collecting and recycling corrugate, preventing waste, and saving energy.
Since first reporting Mack’s focus on reduced cardboard consumption and improved corrugate recycling two years ago, the company has added additional heavy-duty baling equipment at its Cavendish, Vt., facility. That investment, coupled with further refinement of the original program, has resulted in an additional 63 percent improvement in corrugate recycling from 270,000 lbs/yr to 440,000 lbs/yr for the company’s northern operations.
Before purchasing the second baler, Mack installed an on-demand packaging system to produce right-sized boxes for about 80 percent of its packaging needs; installed a baler at the headquarters plant to capture offal from the packaging system, as well as roughly 160,000 pieces of incoming product packaging each year; and entered into a recycling agreement with Rand Whitney Recycling to process the roughly 18.3 tons of corrugate waste per month.
“In addition to reducing landfill waste by eight percent in 2012 vs. 2011, we’re generating approximately $25,000 per year in new revenue from this project, which will quickly offset new equipment costs,” says Procurement Director Marc Colety.
Investing to save
Mack has also replaced two older cooling towers with a new energy efficient system in the molding department of its Cavendish facility. “A full year with this system will result in approximately 850,000 gallons of total usage, saving 473,000 gallons of treated wastewater annually,” says Plant Manager Gene Birmingham.
Likewise, the Cavendish facility has slashed fuel oil consumption by 61 percent over the past five years. “Flooded by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, we designed energy efficiency into the rebuilt areas of the plant,” says Birmingham. “That included insulating numerous areas of the plant that had poor or no insulation before the storm; replacing 27 windows with more energy-efficient versions; and blocking off unnecessary windows in low-traffic areas of the plant.”
Prior to the storm, several common-sense measures had also been taken to save energy, with exceptional results. “We installed storm windows and garage doors, caulked hundreds of window frames, reduced the operating schedule for the boilers, and set up strategic heat zones to provide additional heat to cold spots so the boilers did not have to compensate by providing excess heat to the rest of the plant,” says Birmingham.
Protecting our environment
As has been reported by the national media, North America’s bat population has been hit by white nose syndrome, a lethal disease associated with the deaths of millions of insect-eating bats. “To do our small part to provide a secure habitat for bats in the area, Mack has built 10 seven-chamber bat boxes with the capacity to house 300 bats each,” says Jeff Somple, president, Northern Operations. “This spring, they will be placed around all of our Vermont facilities.”
As the bat population decreases, a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is also threatening the health of honey bees, commercial beekeeping, and pollination operations in the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, bee pollination is responsible for more than $15 billion in increased crop value each year. “Simply put, about one in every three mouthfuls in our diet directly or indirectly depends on honey bee pollination,” says Somple. “So to help combat colony losses, we are also adding apiaries or bee houses on the grounds of a couple of our facilities, which will complement the community gardens and orchards we’ve developed for employees.”
Mack has also established a marked trail system on 60 acres of forested land adjacent to the headquarters plant for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing for employees and their families. “In close proximity to the community garden area, volleyball court, driving range and picnic area, the trails complete a land preservation project that has resulted in a wonderful outdoor recreation area for our employees,” says Somple.