Environmental Sustainability in Manufacturing Matters
Those familiar with AirBoss of America Corp. know that we’ve been a leading manufacturer of high-quality, proprietary rubber-based products for commercial, industrial, and defense applications for decades. We love what we do, and we’ve spent the last 30 years refining our process to better serve our customers.
Part of this involves investing in new technologies that help us innovate ground-breaking solutions for our clients, but just as important is the way we develop those products and what kind of impact our processes have on the world around us.
At AirBoss, environmental sustainability is a top priority. As a large-scale manufacturer, we work every day to create more earth-friendly, sustainable processes built around several tenets:
- Pollution prevention
- Waste reduction
- Recycling and repurposing
- Sustainable sourcing of materials
- Adherence to government compliance standards
- Environmental education and awareness
These are the core principles underscoring our approach to environmental governance, but there’s always more to do! There’s a lot in the works for AirBoss’ environmental progression, so let’s take a closer look at some of what we do behind the scenes.
Recycling Hauls by the Numbers
Just how much material do we go through at AirBoss? The numbers might surprise you:
- Rubber: We recycle 900,000 lbs of rubber per year, which is collected and sent to a third-party to be repurposed and reused. This is about 15-20% of the rubber we receive, making us one of the largest rubber recyclers in the world!
- Oil: On average, 20-25% of the hydraulic oil we use is recycled, and we’re currently acquiring new presses that will further reduce the total amount of oil used.
- Steel: We recycle 100,000 lbs of steel per year, on average. We have plans later this year to bring in new, more efficient processing equipment that will allow us to recycle nearly 1,00,000 lbs each year!
- Cardboard: On average, we recycle 50,000 lbs per year.
- Wood Pallets: All pallets we use are sent to a company that either refurbishes them or reuses/processes them for other uses.
Steps to Reduce Energy Consumption
While recycling is essential to sustainability, environmental stewardship also depends on reducing consumption as much as possible. We’re in the process of finalizing several significant capital investments that will allow us to reduce energy usage and leftover scrap material that can’t be recycled – two important levers for long-term sustainability.
Specifically, we’re looking at the following upgrades to our process:
- Upgrades to our injection molding presses, removing 20 old presses from our rotation, and bringing in 14 new ones that use less energy.
- Installation of a new Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) compressed air system, a more energy-efficient alternative to our existing tech.
- Installment of a closed-loop energy-efficient chilled water system capable of saving up to 2,000 gallons of evaporated water, significantly reducing our total water usage. The chilled water system also has the added benefit of allowing our production equipment to run cooler, which in turn creates even greater efficiency.
- Moving towards more electric forklift vehicles in our fleet, with 60% of our forklifts now EVs.
- Utilizing material “tugger” and manual material movement to further reduce energy and gas consumption.
- Plans to transition each of our manufacturing plants and offices to energy-efficient LED lighting.
Armed with these upgrades, we’re set to make substantial long-term reductions in material waste, water usage, energy consumption, and more.
Reducing Waste Through Scrap Management
An important part of our reduce/reuse/recycle process is how we deal with scrap. Production scrap represents pure profit loss since the scrap already contains materials, labor, and overhead costs. AirBoss leverages our knowledge and skills to streamline the scrap management processes in several ways:
- Standardization of operating procedures, such as mixing and milling times for compounds and streamlined training materials for operators;
- Creation of special formulations that allow us to salvage scrap and returned compounds into salable material;
- Identification of root causes for problem compounds that let us develop long-term solutions to recurring challenges.
With our assistance, the production team has achieved and maintained an impressively low scrap rate, though we’re always working on our processes to further reduce excess material.
Training and Education
The best sustainability processes are useless without having a team behind the scenes who can implement these improvements! At AirBoss, we offer regular training sessions for our client companies that raise awareness of important sustainability, efficiency, and compliance issues facing our industry:
- Dedicated ISO 14001 awareness education
- Spill response protocols
- Storm water control measures
- How to efficiently purge material while minimizing waste
- And more
Alongside other topics to help refresh employees on sustainability best practices.
But our outreach isn’t limited to our partner companies! AirBoss has also begun a dedicated Environmental Awareness Week. During this time, we prioritize communication with the community, sending out daily messaging and holding in-person training sessions for interested parties.
We discuss AirBoss’ recycling programs, upcoming advancements to our processes, employee education tools, and general information and sustainability best practices. Our first event was a smashing success, so much so that we’re set to continue the Awareness Week on an annual basis.
Sustainability Is the Future
These days, conversations around sustainability are more important than ever before. It’s up to all of us, from high-level businesses to individual citizens to make an effort to reduce our environmental impact wherever we can.
By always reaching for continuous improvement in our facility operations, processes, and staff education, we strive to always move forward in the push for sustainability. We make progress every day in minimizing our impact on the environment and supporting the social/ecological benefits of green practices across our community.
There’s plenty more to come, so stay tuned to our site and keep up to date on how AirBoss is working towards a cleaner, safer industry.