Polymer Group (PGI), a global manufacturer of nonwoven materials, has set several goals for 2014 including a 10 percent per square meter reduction in carbon footprint, water consumption, non-renewable resources and solid waste generation, according to the company’s inaugural 2008 Sustainability Report. Other goals include the commercialization of ten new sustainable initiatives and achieving the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) highest “A” standard for sustainability reporting.
Due to increased manufacturing productivity between 2007 and 2008, total energy consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and waste have increased at the company. When analyzed for consumption per volume of product shipped, PGI shows annual reductions in all areas.
As an example, PGI’s electricity, natural gas, diesel fuel, gasoline and propane usage have increased by 3.6 percent, 3.8 percent, 56.1 percent, 1.9 percent and 22.3 percent, respectively. However, PGI reduced its energy consumption per volume of product shipped by 5 percent from 2007 to 2008 through conservation efforts, efficiency improvements, and fluctuations in product mix.
The company reduced its energy consumption by approximately 10,000 gigajoules thanks to a transition to more modern and efficient manufacturing processes, says PGI. The company consumed 3.18 million gigajoules in direct energy in 2008, with electricity accounting for 61 percent of the total, followed by natural gas accounting for 37 percent.
PGI has ongoing initiatives to reduce kilowatt hours via effective de-watering, which has reduced energy demand during the substrate drying process. In addition, many of the company’s facilities are being retrofitted with energy-efficient lighting and motors.
PGI’s total greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions increased 3.9 percent in 2008 compared to the previous year, while total GHG emissions per volume of output have dropped by 4.7 percent. This reduction was achieved through a combination of energy conservation and changes in its manufacturing processes, according to the company.
The company’s volume of waste increased by 5.1 percent in 2008, while solid waste per kg of product shipped decreased by 3.6 percent in 2008, compared to 2007.
In 2007, the company recycled 6.8 percent or 16,858,419 kg of materials, and in 2008 recycled 6.8 percent of 18,358,918 kg of materials.
During the reporting period, PGI reduced its total water consumption by 12.7 percent, or 20 percent per volume of output, primarily by switching to more efficient manufacturing processes.
The company says water used in manufacturing processes for nonwoven materials does not result in a high volume of recycled water for reuse. While the percentage of recycled water is low — 1.04 percent in 2007 and 1.12 percent in 2008 — it has remained constant over the past two years, says PGI.
PGI is participating in a pilot program with the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to develop a globally standard sustainability tool kit for manufacturers. PGI also co-chairs the INDA Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry’s Sustainability Committee, and is a stakeholder member in GRI.