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Chapter 2: Success Stories: Businesses Profiting from EMS

Provided by the International Finance Corporation



Many companies have profited from implementing an EMS. Here are descriptions of some brief success stories which provide insights into the process and benefits of implementing an EMS. More in-depth case studies are explored in Chapter 9. To preserve confidentiality, some firms are referred to as "Company A" or similar.

  • A manufacturer of office furniture eliminated the use of methyl chloroform from its cleaning and fastening processes and reduced the volume of VOC emissions by converting to a powder-based coating system. These pollution prevention alternatives saved the company more than R1.1 million per year, with a return on its R1 million investment in less than one year. Other bonuses included ease of compliance with increasingly stringent environmental regulations and the elimination of incineration fees for solid and liquid hazardous wastes.
     
  • Leff-Marvins Cleaners, Inc. provides dry cleaning services. The company replaced its old equipment with new cold water chilled closed loop systems to recycle PERC (perchloroethylene). The new system also uses reusable nylon filters and increases efficiency, since garments do not have to be transferred between machines. The new equipment eliminated most VOC emissions (eliminating the need for permits)  and also reduced purchase of PERC from 200 gallons per month to 40 gallons per month. In addition, the hazardous waste stream was reduced from over 1,900 gallons of spent PERC per year to just 35 gallons of still residues per month.  The company realized a net savings of R1,400 per month with the new system.
     
  • Company A did not think it generated a significant amount of waste, but when the company reviewed its activities and introduced more efficient ways of handling cardboard, waste elimination bills were cut by 55 percent. Company A also saved staff time, increased staff awareness, and reduced their waste_______ by 577 tons (in the first year).
     
  • The managing director of Mounstevens Ltd., a manufacturing and retail baker, increased staff awareness and introduced careful separation of waste. The expected benefits include cutting waste bills in half and saving R8,800 and 26 tons of waste. "We would have to sell a lot of extra doughnuts to make that sort of impact on our profitability," said the managing director.
     
  • Company B instituted a facility-wide municipal waste recycling program including metal, cardboard, paper, wood, plastic and glass.  More than 50 percent of the municipal waste generated by the company is now recycled. The program greatly reduced disposal costs and generated enough revenue from marketing the recyclables to fund the program's operating expenses, including wages and benefits, equipment operation and maintenance, utility costs and program improvements.
     
  • Jamestown Paint Company reduced its use of toluol by 95 percent and xylol by 74 percent by developing water-based products to replace solvent-based coatings.
     
  • A manufacturer of power steering gears, engine timing devices and power transmission boxes installed a green sand recycling system in its foundry. The system puts recovered sand directly back into the processing lines, recovering about 95 percent of silica sand. Previously, the company purchased four million pounds of sand per year. Today, it purchases only 80,000 pounds per year. The new system significantly reduced the sand purchase and greatly reduced the generation of waste sand and resulting disposal costs.
     
  • A producer of vegetable tanned leather changed its dye supplies to low content manganese, antimony and beryllium dyes. As a result, the company was able to utilize and market the resulting wastewater treatment sludge as a useful and valuable soil supplement, saving the company more than R60,000.
     
  • Company C considered trichloroethylene (TCE) emissions as constituting a significant environmental impact due to: hazardous waste disposal costs, TCE's impact on human health, and TCE's toxicity rating (commonly listed as a potential carcinogen). Since TCE emissions were identified as significant the company planned  to minimize TCE use and set a specific target of completely eliminating TCE by the end of the fiscal year. The first step was identifying areas where the TCE was used. Suppliers marked metal parts using a grease coating to facilitate the stamping process. Company C used TCE in a vapor degreaser to clean these metal parts. The company convinced its suppliers to replace the grease coating with a water-based lubricant, thereby eliminating TCE use from the cleaning of about 80 percent of its parts. For the remaining 20 percent (parts that were cylindrical and required heavier oils in their production), the company incorporated a two-step aqueous cleaner to replace TCE. As a result, the degreasers were shut down. By eliminating TCE in the facility, Company C saves approximately R100,000 annually. More importantly, the company has reduced health risks by eliminating the use of a suspected carcinogen in the workplace.
     
  • Honeycombe Leisure plc, which runs 32 pubs and bars, implemented a glass recycling scheme which resulted in sustainable cost savings on the tens of thousands of used bottles annually. Honeycombe Leisure also introduced water regulators to eliminate unnecessary water use and air filters to improve the atmosphere. "All of these initiatives are already making a positive impact both on the profitability of our company and on the environment," said Michael Norris, Honyecombe Leisure's financial director.
     
  • A manufacturer of custom chemical intermediates and agricultural and pharmaceutical additives distills and reuses waste methanol from manufacturing and sells excess methanol to other companies. This saved substantial money by reducing methanol purchases by 33,600 gallons per quarter and lowered  wastewater treatment and disposal costs.
     
  • During its EMS identification process, Company D noticed that one of its large machines had a serious oil leak. The leak was quickly repaired with a R5 gasket. This easy, inexpensive action cut by half the amount of oil consumed by the company, creating significant cost savings. In addition, the local municipal authority reclassified the plant as no longer generating hazardous waste.
     
  • While identifying environmental impacts, Company E calculated that raw material waste accounted for 15 percent of its total final product. In response, Company E ordered metal inputs in custom sizes that better met its needs, which reduced waste and raw material costs.
     
  • Company F reduced its noise levels through improved machinery maintenance as part of its EMS implementation.  As a result, the company no longer receives noise pollution complaints.
     
  • Company G often faced a critical water supply shortage. Reducing and monitoring water consumption became a priority.  A wastewater treatment system and meter were installed. As a result, Company G was able to recycle 40 percent of the water it used.
     


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