If you've no account register here first time
User Name :
User Email :
Password :

Login Now

Developing Smart Partnerships To Reduce Waste: Q&A with Ingersoll Rand

Ingersoll Rand, a global diversified industrial manufacturer and 2017 Environmental Leader Award winner, is moving steadily toward zero waste-to-landfill for its sites. Already, in Galway on the western side of Ireland, the company’s Thermo King plant no longer sends anything to the dump.

Their recycling department operator holds up a pair of old sneakers, a fistful of electric cables, work gloves, and even an office chair in an online video about the waste reduction effort. “Recyclable,” he says. Just switching to reusable steel pallets for transports engines saved $1.2 million.

“We’re zero waste-to-landfill on many of our sites now. Part of that is changing the entire profile of waste,” says Scott Tew, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability at Ingersoll Rand. Launched in 2010, the center aims to drive energy efficiency and sustainability into the company’s pipeline, manufacturing operations, and employee education initiatives. Recently we caught up with Tew to find out how the company forms effective partnerships across its value stream to reduce waste and improve product recyclability.

What is Ingersoll Rand’s approach to partnerships, especially around sustainability?

What we’ve learned in the past several years working to integrate sustainability is that we no longer have to have this mindset where “it has to be invented here.” We rely heavily on partners across our value stream.

We’re interacting with our suppliers in different ways now. We used to talk when a contract was about to end. Now, though, we’re talking with strategic suppliers more often about how to improve — maybe it’s the way things are packed on a truck for shipment. Maybe we wait until the entire truck is filled. What is the best practice in packaging? Is there another way to do this? Now we’re actually sending more returnable packaging.

What kind of partners do you have?

At the product end, we’re working with a lot of groups. The World Environment Center is one. Terry Yosie, the president of the center, works with us on issues that help us rethink our future portfolio. Recently we’ve been working with him on the circular economy. It’s very complicated because many of our products last 20 years. These are not consumables that you buy at the local drugstore.

They help by putting us in touch with another company that we may not have a relationship with. We’re able to share our approach and the other company shares theirs. Between the two, we’ve developed a way to maybe solve an energy or environmental issue we were not thinking about prior to being connected. The center serves as a bridge.

How does your company introduce sustainability into its processes, particularly product design?

We have a product development process, a standard way to design products and systems across all the brands. Several years ago we inserted a requirement within the product development process that is focused on design for sustainability. It requires all our product designers, design engineers, and procurement specialists who source the raw materials to go through a series of checklists. It gives us assurance that future products will be improved over previous solutions. We also have targets across the value stream to make sure we’re making progress.

What’s an example of a circular economy effort at Ingersoll Rand?

An example would be from our residential system. These systems are complicated and have lots of parts, both inside and outside the home. How can we make sure that, at a minimum, everything is recyclable?

We worked closely with that team in thinking through the entire system. We spent lots of time going through every part number, every SKU, every piece: Is this a material that can be fully recycled? Everything was cataloged. We wrote out a manual for a homeowner or residential dealer, and we can answer to the part level what can be recycled. We did identify a couple things that previously could not be recycled and now we’ve begun to redesign them. So we’re moving toward 100% recyclability.

What else are you working on?

We moved to a remanufacturing model for our HVAC commercial air conditioning products a few years ago. The heart of an HVAC system is the compressor. That’s where much of the work is done. Now we approach compressors like a heart surgeon would approach surgery. We’re able to take out an old compressor, remanufacture and completely refurbish it, and reinsert it into the system.

I was at our site recently and they were remanufacturing an almost 50-year-old compressor. We sent it back to the hotel in Portland, Oregon, where it could have a new life for another 20, 25, or more years. I’m excited about the possibilities of how you design systems so you can continue refreshing them and they live on.

We’re now accepting submissions for the 2018 Environmental Leader Product and Project Awards. Early birds receive an entry fee discount when they submit by November 10. Learn more here.

Related Stories

Sign up for our newsletter

Receive Environment + Energy Leader's top news stories two times each week

© Copyright 2023 C-Suite Compass LLC. Environmental Leader ® is a registered trademark of C-Suite Compass LLC. Privacy Policy.