Protective Coatings Makes Improvements Across the Board
Reducing waste and conserving energy is a boost for business and workers
Established in 1976, Protective Coatings, Inc. (ProCoat) is a worldwide supplier of decorative and protective finishes for the aerospace, electronics, computer, medical, and recreational industries. The company employs 325 people at its 84,000-square foot facility in Kent, which operates 24 hours a day.
A ProCoat employee works at the zinc and nickel
Motivated by a desire to run a business that demonstrates its responsibility to employees and the environment, ProCoat made impressive improvements to cut waste, save money, and protect worker health and safety.
Starting in 2010 ProCoat worked with Department of Ecology, while also doing their own investigations for ways to cut waste and operate more efficiently. And it’s paying off—the company’s efforts are yielding annual reductions of:
- 262,000 pounds of dangerous waste.
- 121,000 kilowatt-hours.
- 15,000 pounds of solid waste.
This amounts to saving $43,600 every year! But they didn’t stop there—keep reading to find out how they boosted savings to more than $83,000 annually.
How They Did It
With Ecology’s help, ProCoat conducted an audit on their compressed-air-delivery system. After leaks were found and fixed, the company saved an estimated 121,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually—that’s $10,000.
ProCoat employees use a solvent still to recycle
To tackle dangerous waste, ProCoat took a three-pronged approach:
- Investing in a new solvent still, which allowed the company to recycle solvent. This is eliminating 27,000 pounds of dangerous waste and saving roughly $18,000 in virgin solvent purchases.
- Starting batch-treating wastewater with chrome, reducing disposal costs by $10,000 a year.
- Repurposing chemicals that previously were used in production for use in their on-site wastewater treatment system. They took “spent” chemicals from their production line that could no longer be used in manufacturing (due to various customer specifications) and repurposed them for wastewater treatment. This saved on disposal fees and the cost of treatment chemicals—about $4,600 per year.
All told, these efforts helped reduce the company’s annual generation of dangerous waste by about 55,000 pounds.
After those initial gains, Ecology’s toxics reduction staff noted that the largest waste stream on site was ProCoat’s blast media. We suggested the media be tested to see if it actually needed to be handled as dangerous waste. ProCoat sent out samples for testing and found the blast media did not designate as dangerous waste. That waste stream accounted for a 27.8 percent reduction in ProCoat’s total dangerous waste generation, roughly 180,000 pounds. Correctly designating the waste as non-hazardous saved the company an additional $39,500 annually. The company is now working with their waste vendor to find another business that could re-use the blast media in a cement kiln.
Recycling Solid Waste
ProCoat found a way to recycle their wooden pallets, saving $1,000 and 15,000 pounds of solid waste per year. They also started a cardboard recycling program on site, as recommended by Ecology.
ProCoat Shows Commitment
ProCoat is working on new opportunities to further reduce their waste generation and improve their bottom line. For instance, they have plans to buy a larger filter press to replace their current one, which is operating at capacity. The filter press reduces waste weight and volume by pressing water out of wet sludge.
ProCoat shares their environmental commitment with their employees. The company has an information center on display, stocked with environmental education resources for their employees—for use at home and in the workplace. Alongside this display, they also have an electronic employee suggestion box to invite ideas for new ways to improve.