Clean Manufacturing: Three Stories on Greener Solutions in Manufacturing Facilities

A common concern for many manufacturing plants now is the sort of waste they leave behind. With new laws and regulations, it is important that companies find new and inventive ways to limit the energy and resources they put out, which ultimately turn to waste. While the call for change is slow for many manufacturers, there are certain companies out there that are making great strides in the way their plants operate in order to reduce their wastefulness. There are now many companies that are going “green,” but here are a few examples of the biggest ones that are attempting to make the biggest difference in the way their manufacturing plants function.

Frito-Lay in Arizona

In an attempt to create the future of green manufacturing plants, Frito-Lay has already made the jump with one of their flagship manufacturing plants located in Arizona. The manufacturing plant is a 75% net-zero energy plant. In other words, three fourths of the plant’s energy and resources are being reused and recycled.  The manufacturing plant features a water-recovery system that recycles 75% of its water, a biomass boiler powered by wood waste from local municipalities, a 5 MW solar photovoltaic system, and other assorted tech to keep the plant as “green” as it can be. Although not the model for all of Frito-Lay’s manufacturing plants, this particular plant hopes to lead the company in the future of research for alternative methods to reserving the most power and resources, while being just as productive, if not more so.

Volkswagen in Tennessee

At the end of 2011, Volkswagen Chattanooga was noted to be the only automotive manufacturing facility to receive the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification due to its recent solar installation. At the time, the solar installation was known as one of the largest at any manufacturing plant. The solar park contained 33,600 solar modules, designed to produce 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity per year. In comparison, that is the equivalent to the energy consumed annually by 1,200 homes in the area of the manufacturing plant. As well, instead of selling some of that power produced by the solar park back to utilities, all of it is used to help power the plant. It powers 12.5% of the plant during full production times, and 100% during non-production times.

Apple

Although it may seem no surprise Apple is a leading innovator in green technologies and production, even their products are being produced more safely and efficiently.  Apple has effectively eliminated the use of two harmful toxins on the production floor, and on all their products. These toxins are n-hexane, which is used to clean smudges from screens prior to packing them in boxes, and benzene, which is used to coat different electronic components. Other electronic producers have taken steps to reduce and limit the use of these products as well, but what makes Apple unique is that they are the first to completely eliminate the use of the toxins from all of their products, and across all their manufacturing plants. Overall, many electronics companies are failing to address the carbon footprint they are leaving behind. What Apple is doing is leading the way for all electronic companies to become environmentally friendly.

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