Sealed Air is Creating a Culture of Sustainability

"Our goals start with our people"
Sep 4, 2017 8:00 AM ET

People, planet profit from team at Monterrey plant  

For the team at Sealed Air’s manufacturing plant in Monterrey, Mexico, sustainability and social responsibility go hand in hand. Their zero waste program provides a case in point.

In 2016, our employees at the plant launched campaigns to recycle batteries, PET plastic and paper, determined to send zero waste to landfills. They also implemented measures to reduce earplug consumption. But that’s not all.

In support of AMANEC, the Mexican Association of Assistance to Children with Catastrophic Diseases, employees at the plant collected roughly 230 pounds (105 kilograms) of bottle caps, recycling the caps and converting them to cash to donate to the association. They also participated in a Secret Santa program for the children, most of whom have cancer. To show their appreciation, association officials awarded an AMANEC Heart to Sealed Air, displaying it in the clinic where the association provides for critically ill children.

Moreover, Sealed Air’s Monterrey plant employees turned their attention to reducing water consumption. In 2016, they installed a closed-loop water cooling and leak detection system. Instead of discharging water used weekly to test the plant’s fire-prevention pump, the water is returned to the water tank. This step alone saved 480,000 liters (more than 125,000 gallons) of water, which equated to a reduction of water used at the plant in 2016 of 4 percent compared to the year before.   

Plant in Jaguariúna, Brazil creates a culture of sustainability

In September 2015, Sealed Air employees at our plant in Jaguariúna, Brazil created a plan to achieve the company’s 2020 Sustainability Goals. In doing so, they created a culture of sustainability, one that involves every employee and produces outstanding results.

The plan the team implemented started with the installation of a leader for each of the four subsets of the goal to reduce our footprint – that is, to reduce energy intensity, greenhouse gases, water intensity, and landfill waste. Team members meet every two weeks to discuss what they’re doing in each of these categories. A whiteboard displayed prominently in the plant lets employees know what projects have been undertaken and a suggestion box is available for employees to propose other actions, which to date have totaled 70 suggestions. Goals and the progress against the actions taken are discussed at monthly communication meetings between managers and operators.

Actions to reduce water intensity included reusing water from extrusion lines, which has reduced consumption by approximately 72,000 gallons (272,000 liters) per month; demineralizing backwash; and decreasing the flow of water from bathroom taps. Not only have these actions significantly reduced the plant’s water consumption, but they also saved nearly $32,000 in the first 11 months.

To reduce energy and greenhouse gas emissions, the plant has reduced the pressure in its air compressors, shut down some of its air conditioning equipment in an older building, reduced the energy consumption of the air conditioning in the administrative area, and eliminated production in two of its 19 bag-producing machines without compromising productivity. Between August 2015 and November 2016, these actions saved nearly $295,000.

The focus of the plant’s waste reduction actions has centered on improving the yield in its bag-making operations. Those actions, which included creating a methodology to better size the material, standardizing the way of working, and upgrading some of the equipment, has resulted in an increase in yield from 94 to 97 percent. The savings generated by this three-percentage point improvement totaled $975,000 in 11 months.

In sum, the plant not only has made substantial progress toward achieving its 2020 Sustainability Goals, but also has demonstrated Sealed Air’s belief that acting as stewards of the environment is not only the right thing to do, but makes good business sense as well.  

New Zealand plant takes small steps to big results

In making progress toward the achievement of Sealed Air’s 2020 Sustainability Goals, small steps can make a big difference. Employees at the company’s manufacturing plant in Porirua, New Zealand have provided an impressive case in point.

Two sustainability team members tracked the plant compressor’s electricity consumption and discovered that it uses about 80 kWh per hour when nothing is running. They also realized that the cooling tower runs during those periods to keep the compressor cool, which uses water and additional electricity. Therefore, by simply shutting down the compressor at those predictable times, the team reduced electrical consumption by more than 155,000 kWh per year, saving more than $5,600 USD ($8,700 NZD) per year. Annual water consumption has decreased more than 78,000 gallons (300,000 liters) as well.  

Team members then discovered that the plant’s presses were consuming about 30 gigajoules of gas per day during the weekend, when no presses were running. By shutting them down during those periods, the team reduced gas consumption by 20 percent, saving an additional $13,400 USD ($20,600 NZD) per year.

Additionally, the team has been replacing metal halide lights in the bag plant with LED lights. This action reduced energy consumption by 110,000 kWh and saved $10,020 USD ($15,455 NZD) per year. Also, by replacing Fluro lights above the bag machines with LED lights that are 50 percent brighter, operators are able to detect subtle bag faults they couldn’t see before.

Similarly, the team installed motion sensors in low-use areas, including several basement storage areas with little to no traffic for extended periods, the sustainability team reduced the plant’s electricity costs an additional $1,200 USD ($1,800 NZD).

These are just some of the actions taken to reduce waste and improve the environmental footprint at the Porirua plant. However, the totality of those actions stands for the principle that improving the sustainability of a company’s operations is an ongoing process, one in which attention to detail produces positive results, no matter how big or small the undertaking.   

To continue reading the complete Sealed Air Sustainability report CLICK HERE