We are responsible for maintaining safe and sustainable operations for our associates, communities and the planet. This commitment means operating more efficiently, producing less waste, saving more water, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and using less energy.
At RPM, we put the safety of our people and our workplace at the heart of our mission. When planning and managing our operations, we consider risks related to climate change such as changes in regulations and weather-related physical risks.
Several years ago, as part of our Map to Growth Program, we adopted MS-168, a center-led approach for operational oversight and management to drive operational improvement in our Manufacturing Systems. The MS-168 program uses lean manufacturing principles to help us manage.
MS-168 has been implemented in 40 facilities and is being rolled out to more facilities each year. The program provides a framework for managing manufacturing processes against key performance indicators to effectively address performance and standards gaps. This empowers our associates to maximize efficiency and minimize waste in our facilities by using the tools and structures we have put in place. Reducing waste ultimately improves the quality of our products, enhances value to our customers and increases overall operational efficiency, thus reducing GHG emissions and use of natural resources, while reducing waste.
Environmental Impact And GHG Data
Improving the efficiency of our manufacturing processes is a driving factor in generating the finest products for our customers while minimizing waste produced, GHG emissions and water and energy consumed. That is why we consider our environmental impact at every step. We collect detailed data on energy, water, waste and emissions to develop reduction goals for GHG and resource intensity.
As a manufacturer, supplier and installer of specialist construction and civil engineering products for infrastructure projects, USL Group demonstrates sustainability in action through its use of the ISO14001 Management System. By implementing a waste management system in cooperation with its supplier, the company is able to collect data on hazardous waste, landfill waste and recycling to more easily identify improvement areas within its waste elimination efforts. USL Group also tracks efficiency and safety metrics for labor, raw materials and equipment. Example initiatives include optimizing packaging and storage containers to include additional recyclable material and installing retrofit LED lighting in USL Group plants.
We understand that climate change may impact the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. Our business plans account for potential disruptions and hazards across our operations and the potential effects climate change may have on our associates and the communities where we operate.
We take climate-related risks seriously as we decide how to spend capital, where to expand our operations and how to develop and refine our product offerings. In 2021, we conducted a review of our manufacturing and distribution centers to assess total water withdrawn, water consumed and facilities located in regions with high or extremely high baseline water stress to guide capital expenditure and other operational decisions.
Although most of our facilities do not generate significant air emissions, we look for opportunities to reduce emissions and their impact in compliance with applicable environmental regulations.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
RPM strives to minimize our direct and indirect GHG emissions throughout our locations. We use our data management system to collect and estimate GHG emissions across our business. In 2022, we are implementing this system for our distribution centers and offices. Tracking and managing GHG emissions through a central system is helping us develop GHG emissions targets.
Plant Consolidations and Improvements
Plant Consolidations and Facility Improvements
Climate change and the evolving energy landscape require that we consider and adopt more resilient, environmentally friendly operating practices. Since 2015, we have closed 31 outdated and energy-intensive plants as part of our Map to Growth MS-168 manufacturing efficiency initiative. We consolidated locations and became more operationally efficient and significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and energy, waste and water use. Based on what we were able to estimate given the limited data available from 2015, we believe that, as compared to 2021 on a per ton of production basis, our approximate reductions were as follows: greenhouse gas emissions by 40%, energy usage by 35% and waste by 40%. The chart below showcases our progress.
Our MS-168 program helps us mitigate our carbon footprint and reduce emissions from our facilities by incentivizing facilities to use energy-efficient technology and allowing us to identify eco-friendly paths when closing old plants and opening more efficient ones. When we design and update facilities and purchase new equipment, we look at both energy consumption and energy sources as opportunities for operational improvement and emissions reduction. For example, the Efficient Operations Committee has developed initiatives including retrofitting lighting at plants and distribution centers with energy-efficient LED alternatives.
USL Group replaced three old, energy-intensive plants with a new state-of-the-art facility in Tankersley, UK, with innovative, sustainable features. The plant features an energy-saving heat and air conditioning system, 13 electric vehicle charging bays, recycled furniture and LED lighting. Upon considering the new location, USL Group chose a centralized place that would minimize truck travel time and distance, thus reducing their potential emissions. In addition, they improved their capabilities in sustainable production at their facility in Conyers, Georgia, by transitioning to bulk storage, reducing deliveries, eliminating the need to process drums and totes, substantially reducing waste and increasing overall manufacturing efficiency.
RPM’s Viapol Facility
Our Viapol facility in Cacapava, Brazil, uses biomass as a fuel source for certain processes. The facility uses a wood chip burner system that consumes locally sourced byproducts from manufacturing pallets and boxes. This transition from natural gas to biomass decreased the reliance on fossil fuel, and the GHG emissions associated with the natural gas the biomass unit replaced were reduced from 6,250 tons in 2013 to 740 tons in 2021.
Waste Management, Reduction & Recycling
As part of MS-168, we constantly assess how to improve operations and formulations to minimize waste generation. We manage waste reduction and recycling at the facility level and gather and analyze the data in our data management system. In addition, many RPM MS-168 continuous improvement projects focus on waste management as part of our center-led manufacturing initiative.
We have established a goal to reduce waste sent to landfills by 10% and increase recycling by 20% per ton of production from our facilities through 2025, using 2021 as the base year.
RPM has enhanced our reuse and recycling processes, including solvent and hazardous waste recycling at Wood Finishes Group, where a new distillation system is removing solvents from the hazardous waste stream. They’ve recovered 64,000 gallons of solvent in 2021. Kirker uses a similar design and recycled roughly 9,000 gallons of solvent in 2021. And Kop-Coat Modern Recreational Technologies achieved a 76% reduction in solvent waste disposal from 2020.
At Rust-Oleum’s Riverside Distribution Center, an associate felt empowered to identify scrap associated with damaged product, leading our MS-168 group at the facility to identify improvement areas to reduce its monthly damage. The work of this team resulted in an overall waste reduction of 77 tons in 2021 and a 67% decrease in hazardous waste generated compared to 2020
At RPM, we consider water stress when assessing our operations and making capital expenditure decisions. Although our operations are not particularly water-intensive, we respect the need to reduce water used in our production processes. In fact, we made significant improvements in this area from 2015 to 2021. Through process improvements, we reduced our estimated plant water usage by approximately 60% per ton of production during that time period. Before RPM moves, adds or closes any operations, we evaluate our potential impact on the environment and water resources against our assessment matrix, which we developed using the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas.
Each of our facilities has controls in place to monitor water use. And we have upgraded water-related processes, management systems and equipment throughout our operations. Specifically, we installed closed-loop water systems and heat exchangers. We also conduct water use-specific reviews and implement strategies to reduce stormwater pollutants.
In October 2020, the DayGlo Cleveland facility began an initiative to dramatically reduce city water consumption from its operations. These efforts led to an overall usage reduction of over 7 million gallons in 2021, a material reduction in water use in the plant. Additionally, scrubbers were redesigned to use closed-loop technology, for additional water savings estimated to be in excess of 5 million gallons per year starting in October 2021.
In August 2021, the Dryvit facility in Woodlake, California, incorporated a new power washer that reduced water use by approximately 12,000 gallons per month. Water use for the year was reduced by approximately 150,000 gallons over the prior year.