EYE ON THE ENVIRONMENT | LOCAL MANUFACTURERS REDUCE WASTE, SAVE ENERGY BY USING RECYCLED WASTE
Oct 7, 2020
by David Goldstein
National Manufacturing Week was last week, and you probably did not realize the role you played. Of course, the market forces created by your purchases are one way you influenced manufacturing, but you also likely participated in the first step of the production process by supplying raw materials through recycling.
The first step in most manufacturing processes is acquisition of materials, by mining minerals, felling timber, drilling for petroleum, synthesizing chemicals or carrying out some other industrial process. Recycling is the first step in a different manufacturing process. When you wheel your curbside recycling cart to the curb, you are supplying raw material to industry.
Rather than hosting open houses and providing school tours, companies celebrated Manufacturing Day this year by encouraging students to pursue careers in manufacturing. For example, the National Manufacturers Association and the Manufacturing Institute used their joint website, mfgday.com, to call attention to the “need to fill 4.6 million modern manufacturing jobs in America by 2028.” The organizations’ “Creators Wanted” campaign asks people to use the hashtags #MFGDay20 and #CreatorsWanted all this month to “recognize a creator you know who inspires you” or “share some facts about the opportunities in modern manufacturing.”
Some of the facts shared so far have emphasized a growing environmental awareness among manufacturers. The percent of “post-consumer content” in products is now a selling point, listed prominently on packaging. Also, manufacturers are touting other environmental accomplishments, some of which they have recently achieved.
For example, “during the COVID crisis, U.S. manufacturers have flocked to cloud technology to accelerate innovation,” according to Rod Johnson, President and Head of Americas at Infor, a Koch Industries-affiliated provider of cloud-based software. “Where on-premises data centers and the cooling systems needed to keep them running can require enormous amounts of electricity, cloud-based solutions operate far more efficiently and can significantly reduce a company’s energy consumption by as much as 87%. Using cloud also means companies are automatically kept up-to-date with the most cutting-edge technology, meaning they can reduce the amount of hardware they dispose of each cycle and lessen their e-waste footprints,” added Johnson.
Manufacturing with recycled content also saves energy and reduces waste. Whether they are making mulch from your yard clippings or clothing fibers from your plastic bottles, recycling- based companies rely on recycling to mine the urban waste stream instead of extracting resources from distant natural sites, generally saving first on transportation impacts. The resources provided by recycling are also pre-refined, so manufacturers use less energy and create less pollution when they melt, mulch, pulp or otherwise transform discards into new products.
The largest recycling-based manufacturer in Ventura County is New-Indy Containerboard, an Oxnard-based company which receives bales of cardboard in truckload quantities, converting these discards into corrugated median, the wavy layer in new cardboard. With 125 employees, New Indy recycles over 240,000 tons per year.
Other major recycling-based companies in Ventura County rely entirely on local material. For example, several companies in Ventura County make road base from recycled concrete and asphalt. In place of rocks mined from distant hillsides and riverbeds, companies such as Santa Paula Materials, Vulcan, State Ready Mix, Cemex and Tapo Rock and Sand derive much, or in some cases all, of their material from demolished paved areas.
Similarly making a product from local discards, and using it to supplement products made from natural materials, Agromin dominates the compost and mulch-making business in Ventura County with locations near Oxnard, Simi Valley and Santa Paula. Their recycled products supplement products made from natural materials, ranging from peat moss to bark shavings.
Other companies in the same business locally include Peach Hill Soils in Somis and American Soil Amendment Products in Simi Valley.
Last week, your purchases and your supply of raw materials were ways you celebrated National Manufacturing Day, perhaps without even realizing it.
David Goldstein works for the Ventura County Public Works Agency and can be reached at 805-
658-4312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.