Freudenberg North America is being encouraged by its management to reach zero manufacturing waste within ten years.
The 16 US plants that constitute the business say they will now pursue industrial processes that focus on recycled product content, plant recycling, lower water and energy consumption and the increased use of sustainable materials over the next decade.
The companies were challenged to reach this objective by parent corporation, Freudenberg and Co., during a recent internal forum.
The two-day event, annually conducted and simultaneously video-cast from locations in Germany, Brazil, the United States, China and Japan, allowed Freudenberg’s global contingent of scientists, chemists and other technical specialists to review green projects, share best practices and participate in critical discussions about ongoing environmental issues.
The impact that global megatrends such as population growth, global warming and an increasing scarcity of resources is having on Freudenberg’s business and innovations – and how the corporation will respond – was central to the event.
“In the past, we have successfully issued challenges to our manufacturing facilities to achieve zero defects and zero accidents,” said Dr Martin Stark, a member of the Freudenberg and Co. management board. “We are now issuing a challenge to achieve zero manufacturing waste. The trends driving our business today mandate this kind of response if we are to maintain long-term growth and profitability.”
In North America, Freudenberg companies provide products and services as diverse as consumer cleaning products, medical devices, seals and gaskets for the transportation and construction industries, industrial components for the energy and oil and gas industries, nonwoven filters and materials, information technology outsourcing and specialty lubricants and release agents. All of the companies are engaged in implementing processes and programmes that will improve the environmental sustainability of their products and plants, said Leesa Smith (pictured) president of Freudenberg North America Limited Partnership.
“Freudenberg’s North America companies are committed to developing the highest quality products available in manufacturing facilities that protect people, communities and the environment,” she said. “Freudenberg has a 160-year history of conducting its business with integrity and a commitment to the welfare of its plant communities. The confluence of new environmental challenges and this long-standing corporate culture is pushing our people to develop green industrial innovations that will help solidify our success – and the health of our communities – into the next century.”
Among the environmental initiatives that Freudenberg North America companies are pursuing are:
- Freudenberg Nonwovens, headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, uses millions of pounds of 100 per cent post consumer (PCR) and post industrial recycled plastic annually to produce Lutradur ECO, a polyester industrial backing used in building and construction substrates, landscaping materials and wallpaper and carpet backings. The company produces the material using a proprietary, closed-loop manufacturing process in plants that reuse all of their material scrap. Commercial use of Lutradur ECO is rapidly rising as contractors seek new ways to improve the sustainability of their own building and construction designs.
- Freudenberg Household Products, headquartered in an environmentally certified building in Aurora, Illinois, manufactures recycled household and institutional cleaning products, including recycled broom fibers. The company established a joint venture with SP Berner Plastics to consolidate the production of recycled mop and broom components such as handles and bristles. The consolidation has reduced the company’s carbon footprint by eliminating 22,800 tons of CO2 that would have been produced by shipping bristle fiber stock from Italy.
- Freudenberg Texbond, based in Macon, Georgia, recycles more than 1 million plastic drink bottles a day in the production of its nonwoven roofing membrane and building materials. Its products address soundproofing, waterproofing and thermal insulation challenges for the construction industry while helping customers meet green purchasing initiatives. Texbond processes the plastic from bottles into polyester fibres, which are further processed into fabric.
- Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies, in Plymouth, Michingan, is pursuing dozens of technological innovations aimed at reducing the company’s reliance on scare natural resources, lowering vehicle emissions, improving engine and transmission performance, supporting development of wind and solar energy and incorporating more recycled content in its products. The organisation’s Low Emission Sealing Solutions (LESS) components use one quarter of the energy a conventional radial shaft seal uses, thereby reducing fuel consumption and lowering vehicle emissions. The company’s FluoroXprene fluoroelastomers are a unique group of newly-developed materials that bridge the technology gap between PTFE and rubber while substantially reducing CO2 emissions and energy usage. FluoroXprene materials are completely recyclable. The company is also pursuing ultraviolet (UV)-curable sealants that will reduce energy consumption, lower Co2 emissions and reduce cycle times.
- Freudenberg Filtration Technologies, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, uses 100 per cent post consumer recycled plastic to create the material used in its commercial and industrial Viledon air and liquid filtration systems. The company’s Viledon Hydrotexx ECO is green filtration media made from PCR polyester and offers consumers in the pool and spa market a water filter alternative.
- Chem-Trend, based in Howell, Michigan, has developed technology to substitute water for solvents as a release agent carrier across all of its product lines. The transition from chemical solvents to water in this process has eliminated the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in the solvents while ensuring excellent release performance and process adequacy.
- A number of Freudenberg North America companies, including Kluber Lubrication, Freudenberg Information Technologies Vibracoustic, Chem-Trend and FNST are also implementing environmental projects in their facilities that range from installation of more energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems and production machinery to using recyclable shipping containers and sourcing vendors who offer their own green products and supplies.