Portola Packaging Demonstrates Commitment to Green Manufacturing
As more packaging suppliers focus on green manufacturing methods, one innovative company reports how its sustainable processes and employee initiatives have helped recycle millions of pounds of materials in just two years.
Demonstrating what it calls “a commitment to responsible manufacturing,” Portola Packaging Inc. said it recycled over 5.5 million pounds of materials from 2009 to 2011 and reduced its energy use by almost 20 percent during the same time period. The company manufactures stock and custom tamper-evident plastic closures and has facilities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
To reach greener manufacturing goals, legions of industry companies face the challenge of overhauling current processes. Portola, which operates eight plants, said it currently has more than 20 different sustainability initiatives.
Portola’s Recycling Efforts
The company reported that it recycled more than 3 million pounds of production scrap in 2011, on top of the 2.5 million in 2010. Recycled materials included corrugated paper, aluminum, steel and plastic regrind.
Upstream processes utilize such materials in the most efficient way possible. “This means less scrap produced and, therefore, less material generated that needs to be recycled on the back end,” said Roy Robinson, vice president of business development.
“We have closed-loop manufacturing systems. Our raw material is never touched by human hands from rail car to product manufacturing,” he explained.
Portola also engages its employees to be sustainable. “We encourage all our team members to generate new environmentally sound ideas so that we can continue on this path,” said the company’s CEO and president, Kevin Kwilinski, of its green manufacturing.
The company outlines several key recycling processes that employees in every plant and office location practice, including:
- Collecting and recycling machinery oil waste
- Scrap metal recycling
- Collecting corrugated cases and sending them to a local recycler
- Viewing plant reports electronically versus printing them out
- Recycling lunchroom items (single-serve containers, paper, etc)
- Recycling printer ink cartridges.
On top of recycling efforts, Portola reported an 8 percent energy reduction in 2011, following a 10.5 percent decrease in 2010.
One major initiative to help drive energy conservation is converting shipments from current corrugated boxes to gaylords. Whereas three truckloads of cases delivered 6.3 million of the company’s closures to customers, using gaylords has eliminated at least one truckload. This enables 30 to 35 percent more closures to be shipped per truckload and reduces fuel and packaging materials costs significantly, the company explained.
The packaging company has also replaced poor-efficiency equipment. In addition to energy-reduction savings, shifting from injection molding to compression molding equipment produces closures with better functionality, Robinson explained to Plastics Today.
Robinson said monitoring the amount of resin being used to the kilowatt-hours expended to produce closures is also part of Portola’s initiatives for sustainability.