With landfill space at a premium throughout the world, a Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies plant in Mexico is making an environmental difference by recycling nearly 100% of its industrial scrap and waste.
Freudenberg-NOK’s Cuautla facility, in the state of Morelos, adopted an aggressive recycling program nine months ago in keeping with the company’s overall push to embrace sustainability as a business objective. The plant had no recycling initiatives in place when it began development of the program and all of its trash was landfilled. Today the facility recycles approximately 17 tons—99% of what it produces—in monthly trash.
The achievement represents a benchmark in recycling programs among the company’s 21 industrial facilities in the Americas, said David Lawson, Director of Health, Safety and the Environment for Freudenberg-NOK. Where other recycling programs have addressed some plant waste streams, like packaging debris or paper and plastic trash, the Cuautla program is all encompassing and addresses every waste steam in the facility, from rubber and industrial scrap to paper, plastic, wood, metal, glass and even organic waste.
“A program like this takes commitment, imagination and foresight,” Lawson said. “It wasn’t motivated by regulatory mandate or by short-term payback. It was solely implemented because it was the right thing to do to help achieve a sustainable future within the plant and the community.”
As part of the program, for example, Cuautla has partnered with a vendor who uses its rubber scrap waste to produce mats and flooring for sports facilities. The rest of its waste stream—wood, metal, cardboard, glass and plastic—is also separated and sold, said Luis Medina, Health Safety and Environment manager, Cuautla. Organic waste is composted on site and used to fertilize green areas around the plant.
As a result, where the plant formerly dumped 100% of its trash into landfills, almost no plant waste ends up in landfills today.
The plant was awarded a “We All Take Care” award by Freudenberg-NOK for its achievement. The program is a series of annual awards given by the company to its facilities and business groups that engage in projects that promote health management, safety, environmental protection, risk mitigation and corporate social responsibility.
“This project has made all of our employees more environmentally aware of their ecological footprint, and they all are proud to participate in its ongoing success,” Medina said. “Recycling addresses our principle of taking responsibility for the countries and communities where we do business. We are very proud of our accomplishment.”
Medina said the plant will work with other facilities to help them establish their own all-inclusive recycling programs.
Filed Under: TECHNOLOGIES + PRODUCTS, Green engineering