Factory Revitilized

Donald Trump said, “As long as you’re going to think anyways, THINK BIG.”

At first, Saturn of Indiana’s manufacturing plant didn’t think they could achieve zero landfill status, but by setting the goal and thinking big, they were able to take the neccesary steps to that mark. OK, I know Trump wasn’t refering to zero landfill status when he talked about thinking big, but you get the point.

Industry Week published a few briefs dated July 1 (so I’m assuming the articles are coming out in a to be released paper issue) and it caught my green-manufacturing eye.

I think the tone of the articles are a sign of green becoming commonplace. The magazine describes the necessity of green practices and its benefits while barely even mentioning the planet, or our climate. They just highlight companies that have made efforts to contribute zero waste to landfills: in Subaru of Indiana’s case, done in part by making sure materials are used again and that the byproduct of byproducts are sent for recycling.

Subaru also hired Allegiant Global to help them keep up with their zero waste goals because assafety and environmental compliance manager Denise Coogan, Subaru of Indiana says.

“We’re in the car making business, not the waste management business,” 

“Allegiant finds us places to recycle our material.”

And they do this by doing three primary things:


“on-site collection and sorting of recyclable materials,

advice on using recyclable and reusable materials,

and creation of markets for manufacturing byproducts. “

 This is the kind of thing the Green Collar Economy B2B Directory was made for. Finding companies like this that can help you save money and reduce waste.


Industry Week also highlights another large corporation, Frito-Lay, which has created their very own Department of Energy, which allowed them to better develop an off grid energy plan.


With progression like this, the planet benefits while you, the manufacturer, benefits. The attraction of a green economy is the idea that it could actually create a stronger economy while we making the necessary changes needed to preserve earth.

An important lesson to learn from these stories is that they never thought “zero waste”, or “net zero” would happen at such a large plant or at such a large scale but by taking the right steps in the right direction, it gradually became a reality.

As a general rule, it’s a great idea to aim high. Even if you think zero waste or even carbon neutrality is not possible, aim for it anyways, set a deadline and try to get as close to it as you can. Even if you don’t hit the number you expected, you will be headed in the right direction.


I usually don’t comment on stories from Grist here. However, they published an article about a significant transition towards a green economy, so I’m breaking with that tradition today. It has shown a clear identifier of where our priorities are headed and, quite frankly, what makes more business sense.

As many people have heard or read about, General Motors recently closed a Wisconsin plant that produced SUV’s and Pick up trucks.

As many have not heard about, the high speed train industry is the most underfunded part of transportation in America, way behind highway construction.

However, a high speed train network using several hubs across the country is being planned.

At the same time, factories that make gas guzzlers are closing and trucking companies are protesting gas prices.

This transportation shift is a clear example of the ensuing transition to a cleaner, greener economy. This shift will also help manufacturing is a few big ways.

1.       With more high speed rail shipping, to and from Midwest cities and outward, factories will have a cheaper more efficient way to deliver goods.

2.       Trucking companies won’t be relied on for longer distances. They will be able to make more local stops, stay regionalized, and create a better work environment for drivers.

3.        Less trucks means less pollution and it also means less fuel cost to manufacturers looking to ship.

4.       The construction of this project will be immense and the upkeep will employ workers for a long time. Manufacturing of railway material and trains would be extremely difficult to outsource.

5.       The creation of new trains can take advantage of advances in sustainable technology allowing for the materials reused time and again.

Also, the basis of the Grist article is revolved around a quote by Barack Obama,

“the fight for American manufacturing is the fight for America’s future — and I believe that’s a fight this country will win.”

So do I.

Suniva Solar announced the establishment of a factory in the Atlanta area that could bring in 100 new jobs. Made possible by 50 million dollars of second round investing and the expectation of “$10 million in revenues this year and will be profitable next year with $100 million in sales.”

According to earth2tech.com, Georgia beat out several states, who were offering big incentives. I guess the fact that Suniva was founded at Georgia Tech’s Center of Excellence in Photovoltaics gave the state a bit of a home advantage.



Chemicallygreen.com expanded on the Lieberman Warner bill and gave some interesting points about why it might actually just be congress creating a tax hike in order to create projects in their home states. Initially, I hopped on the ‘Bush is missing the environmental boat again’ bandwagon but it will

“represent the largest tax increase in U.S. History.”

The country is pretty much on hold until a new President is inaugurated so this debate might be just a discussion to get a better sense for what our best options are.







Two green manufacturing stories caught my eye this morning.

The first is the plan for a ‘Center for Green Technology at University of Toledo’ that was published yesterday.

“The proposed Great Lakes Center for Green Technology Manufacturing would help develop and commercialize renewable energy manufacturing processes, materials, and infrastructure,”

Senator Brown (D Ohio) said in a statement.


A provision in the Lieberman-Warner Global Warming Bill will fund the construction of the ‘Center’.However, President Bush has assured that he will veto the Bill if it gets to his desk.

There is strong support throughout Ohio for building the Center in hopes that Toledo can further their reputation since they are “already recognized as the solar manufacturing center of the U.S., and are hard at work developing wind, water, ethanol and bio-diesel clusters,” according to Toledo Mayor, Finkbeiner.

Now the second story, this one published today, announced that Ford motor company has chosen an Ontario company to lead a project that will help them avoid the harmful emissions created by burning off paint during the automobile manufacturing process.

The project:

‘was stimulated by $100 million in funding for the Oakville complex through the Ontario government’s Automotive Investment Strategy. “That’s real forward-looking thinking,” Kit Edgworth, the head of the Fumes to Fuel Project, says. “If it weren’t for the government money, Ford would have probably waited five years to embark on this project. And then it might have been located elsewhere.” ‘

The project, if it works, will turn the burned off chemicals from the painting process into fuel for the factory.

Personally, I can understand how the Lieberman-Warner Global Warming Bill can be considered a “costly bureaucracy and drive up the cost of coal-based energy without first making alternatives available,” as described by Sen. George Voinovich (R Ohio) but these stories came out one after another.

Ford, one of the largest manufacturers in America, is using a fast moving Canadian funded research team to reuse fumes as fuel, while at the same time a bill that could build a Center for Green Manufacturing in Ohio is headed for a veto.

So…either the bill neds to be re-written with more attractive numbers or more support for the bill is needed to convince Bush to approve it.


To the max meaning 100% fossil fuel free. To the max meaning 100% renewable energy. To the max meaning fully energy independant. The $30 million dollar Co-Generation power plant will help the 115 year old paper manufacturer set a standard in paper production and continue to hold it place in the top realm of paper manufacturers and suppliers.

They are doing it to get ahead of the “volital energy” market and “carbon caps” that are expected to come in the near future.

“The $30 million investment and drive to achieve full carbon neutrality at SMART Papers comes as the State of Ohio and the U.S. government develop new laws and regulations on carbon emissions. The Ohio Senate and House recently passed legislation, which requires that up to 12.5 percent of the state’s electricity consumption come from renewable sources by 2025. Under the law, half of that must be generated within Ohio. “

“SMART Papers officials said they are well positioned to play an important role in helping the State of Ohio meet its goal because the company will sell a significant amount of power on the electrical grid. By the end of 2010, all of the power supplied to the regional grid will be carbon neutral—providing a source of 100% “green” energy for businesses and homes throughout Ohio and the Midwest U.S.”

This manufacturer is actually positioning itself to sell its energy into the grid.

Really quickly, I just want to point out another factory that is being eyed by renewable energy manufacturers, this one in Colorado Springs. I might write another post about this soon but for now I just want post the link to reinforce what a viable option this is for business and community…here’s the link: http://www.gazette.com/articles/energy_33820___article.html/renewable_kazmierski.html

I just read an article by Anna Waugh, the associate editor of the Mac Weekly, Macalester College’s school newspaper. The Ford Motors Plant near the school will be closing in 2009 and Macalester students are trying to work with Unions and the community to green the space when it goes vacant. There are substantial positives that can result from this, contrary to the abundant negatives that usually follow large American motor factory closings.


They’re talking green all the way. Residential housing, shopping centers, and then the choice of where to invest. Will it be light rail manufacturing? Or renewable energy production? Or maybe something else really cool that I don’t even know about? The changes could actually improve the quality of life for the surrounding community, not bring it down with the factory closing. The Ford Site Planning Task Force appointed by the city of St. Paul is coming up with the plan which they think will be a “beacon for what green jobs can really be in this country”.

Yes, this is great. We aren’t letting a day go by without using a facility in the best possible way. The wave of green is so strong that all these students, architects, engineers, union members and folks in the community are basically telling Ford, “Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out.”

It’s almost like exchanging one infrastructure for a more modern one that, well, just makes more sense. It’s also important to note that they’re not really sure what type of green manufacturing business they will go with. They’ll probably just take bids from several emerging companies or from current companies that can’t keep up with demand.

My favorite part of this might be the focus on building community. It allows people to share energy sources more easily and we avoid spending so much on transportation when we agree to live, shop, and work in the same general area. People are usually friendlier in these areas and work together with their neighbors.

Hopefully, Macalester and the city of St Paul will achieve their green goals and their ‘beacon’ can light the way for future manufacturing infrastructure. Maybe Anna Waugh can keep us posted.