Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Major Truck Manufacturer Achieves 'Zero Landfill' Status in Push for Green Credentials

Employee Input Drives Volvo Plant's Environmental Achievements
Shipping News Feature

US – Whilst everyone in the supply chain is increasingly concerned about demonstrating their green credentials when one of the huge corporations make a commitment to environmental neutrality the figures can make impressive reading. With the ongoing development of its Virginia plant at New River Valley (NRV), where the entire range of trucks sold by the company in North America are made, Volvo has achieved the laudable target of making the plant achieve ‘zero landfill’ status.

The journey which Volvo undertook to reach such a landmark at the Dublin, Virginia site began in 2003 by first identifying and evaluating all solid and liquid waste streams within the plant. Once identified, the plant’s environmental team introduced a framework to better coordinate recycling efforts and began expanding reuse, recycling and composting opportunities.

Intensive evaluation of materials flow and work with parts and raw materials vendors resulted in a transition from cardboard boxes to reusable shipping containers and the elimination of styrofoam and foam rubber from parts packaging. NRV also changed its paint process to capture, reconstitute and reuse solvents typically used to flush paint lines, and utilise paint sludge to help power a cement kiln. Waste reduction efforts also extend to NRV’s on-site cafeteria, where all food waste, utensils, cups and containers are compostable.

Based on current figures, the energy content of the waste NRV is keeping out of landfills each year equates to conserving the amount of energy required for 604 households annually, which equates to 9,348 barrels of oil, or 434,291 gallons of gasoline, or saving 14,509 mwh of electricity. In early 2012, NRV became the first U.S. facility to be certified to ISO 50001 standards under a pilot programme supported by the US Department of Energy.

NRV is also the first Superior Energy Performance (SEP) certified facility to use ISO 50001 as its energy management system standard. While technologies like building automation systems, solar hot water heaters and infrared heaters helped drive NRV’s energy reductions, many of the energy-saving ideas have come from employees. Lars Blomberg, Vice President and General Manager of the NRV assembly plant, commented:

“We’re proud to be at the forefront of environmental improvements to the truck production process. Eliminating waste from our assembly plant has truly been a journey of a thousand steps, each building on the previous. We also believe it is important to our customers that their trucks are produced in an environmentally friendly manner.

“The success of our waste reduction programme is a direct result of the daily participation of our people and their support and involvement in the improvement of recycling and production processes. In addition to the obvious environmental benefits, our efforts to reduce waste and energy have continued to improve the competitiveness of our manufacturing operations in southwest Virginia.”