Minnesota-based plastic netting manufacturer and 3D printing pioneer Conwed just published their Global Sustainability Report 2016 and they have shown some impressive results in the reduction of waste. The company has several locations, each with wildly different waste and sustainability standards, including manufacturing sites throughout the US and in Belgium. So the company decided to implement best practices at all of its locations with the goal of both increasing efficiency in day to day operations and in developing netting manufacturing solutions that would require less material and produce less waste.
As one of the world’s largest manufacturers of plastic netting materials, the company’s products are used in hundreds of applications. They serve industries as diverse as agriculture, automotive, transportation, medical, consumer packaging, energy production, construction and of course water filtration. Conwed is producing some groundbreaking work in the development of 3D printed feed spacers that enable uniform water flow through their membrane structures in complex spiral-wound reverse osmosis and nanofiltration membrane systems. Their research is leading to new, highly advanced water purifying and filtration systems that could radically improve water quality throughout the world.
Conwed made the decision to review all of its manufacturing operations way back in 2009 and gave themselves a set of sustainability goals that would modernize their production processes. They focused on four major areas. The first was a goal to reduce their carbon footprint company-wide and the second was to control water consumption. They also focused on reducing the amount of cubic yards of waste that were generated as well as the total process resin waste that was being generated.
“We believed we needed to focus on areas we could directly impact at each of our manufacturing locations. Improving our production efficiency while continuously reducing our expenses and waste was a natural way to impact our sustainability record,” explained Conwed Senior Strategic Marketing Manager Ivan Soltero.
Since Conwed implemented their sustainability goals the company has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 13%, dropped water consumption by 24%, reduced cubic yards of waste by a massive 79% and eliminated a total of 19% of their process resin material waste. The company managed these remarkable reductions using a series of ongoing water usage audits, preventive maintenance measured and regularly seeking potential process improvement opportunities. They worked closely with the manufacturing and operations teams responsible for managing each location and have a shared goal of reducing water consumption at all of their plant locations until they have optimizes water usage.
“Embracing a sustainability program has had a direct impact on our business because we are focused on finding ways to do things better, more efficiently, with the least amount of waste. That surely impacts our financial performance, but it also reassures our customers that we are driven to manufacture the best plastic netting with the least amount of material and waste. Although we are proud of the progress we made, we understand that sustainability is an ongoing commitment with significant value to Conwed and our stakeholders. Sustainability efforts are now part of our everyday business,” continued Soltero.
The largest reduction of water consumption made by the sustainability program was due to improving manufacturing processes that would control material waste and encourage the reuse of as much resin internally as possible. Not only was waste reduced, but the new processes also produced a considerable cost savings. The company also invested in new equipment that made it easy to identify and collect materials that can be sent to recycling facilities, collaborated with many of their suppliers and customers to produce the best waste reduction practices. Discuss the release of their latest reports in the Conwed Sustainability Report forum over at 3DPB.com.
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