PLYMOUTH, Mich. (Aug. 3, 2012)—In a world where recycling is cool and going green is the thing to do, companies like Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies and ContiTech A.G. are doing their part to align with the in crowd.
For its part, Freudenberg-NOK revealed its plans to help reduce and re-use resources all in the name of going green and utilizing them to their fullest extent.
“We want to be good environmental citizens,” said Leesa Smith, president of Freudenberg North America L.P.
For her firm, doing the right thing has included looking to cut waste with products, while also searching for ways to cut down on the use of raw materials.
“How do you get better at using these resources and not using them up,” she said is the question Freudenberg has been asking itself.
But the idea of looking at ways to be more environmentally friendly doesn't just happen at one plant, Smith said, but must be something that happens at all of its 15 North American businesses.
That encompasses such projects as the Freudenberg Nonwovens headquarters in North Carolina using industrial recycled plastic to create a polyester industrial backing for wallpaper and carpet backings, as well as Freudenberg Texbond recycling water bottles to create fibers that aid in soundproofing, waterproofing and thermal instillation.
Even Freudenberg-NOK's headquarters in Plymouth has looked at ways to reduce the use of natural resources and incorporate more recycled products into other goods.
The maker of rubber products for automotive and other markets also is investigating ways to produce goods without creating any scrap material. “Any of that scrap material has a cost to the company,” Smith said.
Over the long run, she said, these green efforts will cut Freudenberg's costs and help its customers, most of whom also are looking at ways to be more efficient.
But just like anything else, taking a greener approach is an ongoing process.
The company has developed an idea pool that allows employees to submit their ideas for ways to aid both Freudenberg and its customers. “Your best source of ideas is your employees,” Smith said.
The New Technologies Idea Pool gives employees the opportunity to share ideas that might not be related to the unit they work for but could help one of Freudenberg's other business units.
In 2011 alone, Smith said the company received 270 idea submissions regarding how the company could change some operations.
“These (ideas) are all over the place,” she said. The suggestions ranged from the highly technical—such as designing a recycled seal for a product—to things that no one had thought about, like a new cleaning technology for solar power plants. “I think it's really exciting,” Smith said.
While the goal is to have ideas that fall within one of the company's existing businesses, all ideas that fall outside will be reviewed to see if they should be considered for a new business project, according to a Freudenberg spokeswomen.
ContiTech also has been investigating ways to be more environmentally effective.
The non-tire rubber product firm launched a new website that highlights the company's work in terms of sustainability and showcases its efforts over the past couple of years.
For example, it highlighted ContiTech's reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 42 percent and waste production by 50 percent since 1999.
The company's quest to improve its products also is put on display.
For example, ContiTech has been able to reduce nitrogen oxide from farming equipment by 80 percent thanks to SCR technology, which uses a urea solution that has been injected into exhaust systems and reacts to nitrogen.
The result is a harmless mix of nitrogen and water, according to the ContiTech's website.
The company also has created a conveyer belt that it claims can cut energy usage by operators by up to 25 percent, which equals enough energy to power 6,500 households.