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2000 Pollution Prevention Environmental Excellence Awards

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

A.O. Smith Engineered Storage Products Company

A.O. Smith Engineered Storage Products Company used their Continuous Improvement Program as a blueprint for pollution prevention. As a result, they have seen the cost savings and high rate of return from pollution prevention investments. Their efforts have resulted in reducing process inputs, higher process efficiencies, elevated quality control, reduction of down-time, elimination of control technology, improved worker safety and enhancement of the environment. Smith’s paint line improvement project had a projected savings of about $450,000 per year. Their actual savings were almost $525,000 in the first year. They were able to use a competitive process to implement their improvements. Their professed key to pollution prevention success is “Getting people involved.”

Boeing Co.

Boeing employees use strategic planning to guide their pollution prevention efforts. Boeing plans ahead to show reductions of air toxics and hazardous waste. They have concentrated on the coatings applied to aircraft. This has an impact in both the commercial and military aircraft. They developed a more durable coating that reduces the number of repaintings for a fleet of aircraft by one third. This coating has just been adopted by a second fleet and is in testing for other aircraft including the F-15. Another area where they have made improvements is the stripping of coatings from the aircraft. Boeing employees developed a process that has virtually no release of hazardous materials to the environment. This has been approved for all US Navy and Air Force aircraft. They anticipate it will soon be available for use on commercial aircraft.

Curries Company

The Curries Company did not want increased regulation of their operations. They knew they did not want to emit 250 tons per year of volatile organic chemicals. They found the prime target was reformulating their existing paint, rather than developing and testing a completely new paint. They worked with their supplier to use a relatively new solvent that was free of volatile chemicals and hazardous air pollutants. As a result of careful design, they were able to achieve a reduction of almost 70% in volatile emissions. They also decreased paint usage by a third. An added benefit was increased quality of paint performance. These outcomes allowed Curries to look at other pollution prevention options. By increasing paint performance, they can now consider elimination of a hazardous waste stream. Before the improvements, they needed an acid sealer to maintain acceptable corrosion resistance. Now they are on their second generation of pollution prevention ideas and successes.


3M is founded on the idea of encouraging its employees to explore new ideas and share what they have learned with colleagues. This philosophy carries over to environmental responsibility. For 3M, there are 3Ps - pollution prevention pays. Their efforts have been years in the making. The gains came from collaboration between laboratory, engineering and manufacturing personnel. They did wholesale conversions on their product lines to achieve a reduction of both volatile emissions and hazardous wastes. One major innovation was the development of a 100% solids adhesive coating. This
alone eliminated 100 tons of solvent each year. By creating a higher solids content on another adhesive, 3M reduced yet another 197 ton of solvent from use. 3M has set goals to cut all hazardous waste and non-hazardous releases to air, land and water by 90 % and reduce generation of all waste 50%. 3M will continue to apply their 3Ps to meet these goals.

Catalytic Industrial Group, Inc.

Catalytic Industrial Group knew they had a great idea. The technology they began was used during World War I. They also knew that conventional technology resulted in costly losses for the oriented strand board (OSB) industry. They found that drying OSB flakes using catalytic dehydration eliminated carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, methanol and formaldehyde from the drying process. The low temperature process, eliminated many volatiles. Previous technology literally burned some of the potential product. This newly applied technology preserves material, actually increasing finished product. Catalytic Industrial Group estimates that a typical OSB plant could realize $3.3 million savings each year using this new process. This equates to a capital payback of ten months. Pollution prevention not only pays, it does so quickly and with sound environmental benefits.

Rockwell Collins

The Coralville team set out with a clear goal to eliminate or reduce chemical usage and/or toxicity. In an age of supermodels, they developed superb model called “Lean Electronics.” They developed a new process to place coatings on specific areas while leaving other parts of the product untouched. The Coralville plant saw a 42% reduction in hazardous waste. They also saved in production, floor space, labor distribution, raw materials and disposal costs. They proved that a change that benefits the environment can cause plant savings in many other areas. They demonstrated that management and operators together must work to implement changes that increase efficiencies and productivity. They look forward to taking their “Lean” improvements into other areas for improved effectiveness in equipment, materials and labor resources. All this was guided by a simple desire to improve environmental conditions.

DTE Biomass Energy, Inc.

DTE Biomass Energy found a way to do the equivalent of removing 75,000 old cars from the road. Daily, they capture nearly 3 million cubic feet of greenhouse gases and supply energy to meet the needs of the sixth largest ethanol producer in the United States. DTE has designed a system of wells and pipes that collect landfill gas and provides an uninterrupted fuel to High Plains Corp. DTE‘s system is able to collect from both the active and inactive portions of the Brooks Landfill. Clear benefits of this operation go to the City of Wichita for controlling releases of greenhouse gases; to High Plains Corp. for saving $500,000 on fuel costs each year; and to DTE for creating reducing air emissions. This operation showcases the ability for pollution prevention to create new businesses that not only improve the environment, but also improve the tax and employment base.

Hercules Incorporated/Missouri Chemical Works

Hercules faced a challenge from the Clean Air Act. They needed to burn gases. They could either ‘flare off’ or use an alternative method to burn gases. They used pollution prevention to solve the air challenge, enhance the environment and provide a new resource for the plant. Hercules installed a wastewater boiler. This boiler not only burns the gases better than a flare, but it also provides an energy source for the plant. The boiler generates 5% of the plant’s steam. The fuel gas system results in an annual savings to the environment of three key gases. Carbon dioxide, a known greenhouse gas, is reduced by 14,000 tons. There are also savings in the gases that cause acid rain. Sulfur dioxide is reduced by 300 tons and nitrogen dioxide is reduced by 45 tons.

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