Archive for the ‘Industry’ Category

Energy audit

Well last week was a very exciting milestone in the greening of Sportsprint.. Doug Neidigh of … came to Sportsprint for the day to do a wholistic environmental audit – to look at our operations, investigate greener manufacturing processes for our company, and make recommendations. We are eager to hear his recommendations.

Yesterday Tim Bennett (the production manager), Dave Goebel (our Missouri Enterprise partner), and I met with Rick Weber, a sales rep for Gateway Screen Products, to learn about the more environmentally-friendly screen printing inks that are available in the marketplace. It was a very informative meeting. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that plastisol inks do not give off VOC’s.. BUT the chemical odor that can be smelled in our plant in the heat of the summer is actually the result of the garment dye evaporating. Apparently when t-shirts are cut, sewn, and dyed, the dyeing process is very chemical-intensive. Poly-cotton blend t-shirts especially give off a smell, since the polyester doesn’t really absorb the dye, it just sits on top of the fiber and is more easily evaporated when the ink is cured in the dryer. With organic cotton tees, this is a non-issue, because in order for the tees to be sold as organic, the dyes have to be low-impact in accordance with GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards).. another reason to buy organic! (not only for the way the cotton was grown, but also for the dyes that go into the garment.)

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Lean, Clean and Green Makes Good Business Sense

The new Missouri Enterprise Lean, Clean and Green Program leverages resources of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Green Supplier Network, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to help small and medium-size manufacturers enhance competitiveness, reduce costs and improve environmental performance. It focuses on regulatory issues, waste generation and disposal, hazardous waste reduction and containment, emissions reduction and energy conservation as well as productivity increases and cost savings.
Program Elements

1. Comparison of your company to similar ones in a national database to determine how you rate in nine key areas.
2. Completion of a questionnaire to develop a basic description of your business and preliminary data about your energy consumption and waste material generation.
3. Development of a Value Stream Map to graphically illustrate the flow of material and information in your operations and the potential for improvement.
4. An environmental assessment and records review focusing on air emissions, wastewater discharges, hazardous waste handling, solid waste disposal, recycling potential and indoor air quality.
5. An energy assessment and onsite facility inspection detailing overall energy consumption and energy conservation opportunities.
All of the data gathered in these steps will be collected and a final report will be developed to document improvement opportunities and recommend actions that a company can take.Follow-Up Meeting

Twelve months after presentation of the final report and recommendations, Missouri Enterprise will conduct a follow up meeting with the company to review progress and help sustain the improvements that have been realized.

To qualify for this program, companies must have less than:• $2 million in annual energy costs;

• 500 employees per facility; and

• $100 million in annual sales.

Davis emphasized that all of the data collected in this program will be held in strict confidence.

To help your company begin a Lean, Clean and Green program, contact your Missouri Enterprise Area Business Manager at 800-956-2682.

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Last night my sister and I returned from a wonderful weekend in Chicago, courtesy of S & S, which is one of our biggest vendors. It was our first time visiting their facility in Bolingbrook, Illinois, and holy cow, what a warehouse they’ve got. S & S has over 1400 different products, and distributes over 120 manufacturers’ lines. This year they’ve rolled out quite the array of sustainable apparel options, which makes it a lot easier and more cost efficient for us to buy and sell those items (compared to us sourcing them directly from 25 or so different vendors… of course, we still end up going direct for a lot of it, because certain companies make organic in certain styles or colors that our customers prefer).

During their Open House, we met with several reps from the manufacturers and learned more about their lines. I saw some samples of Anvil’s new recycled cotton line that I’m very excited about. They have a great color palette, and because of their distribution channels, the shirts will be competitively priced. We had actually just ordered some recycled cotton tees from a company out of Utah, but aren’t so happy with them after they completely lost our paperwork on an order and didn’t ship out our shirts until the day we were supposed to have them printed for our customer! Argh! (Sorry MVOR!) Hopefully we’ll have a better experience with Anvil.

I also met a rep from Edun’s line of organic cotton tees, completely grown and sewn in Africa. Edun is a clothing line started by Bono and his wife, and their goal with it is to provide employment opportunities and economic growth for several communities in Africa. Great cause. (Too bad the tees only come in natural, white, or black though)

After checking out all the clothing samples, we watched a fashion show of what’s new in 08, ate a scrumptious buffet dinner, and went on a tour of their operations. I will say one thing that I’d really like S & S to improve on though: there’s no recycling in their facility! I was also shocked to see the same was true for the Sofitel Water Tower Hotel, where they put us up for the weekend. It was super fancy, and really fun to stay in such a posh place for a weekend, but I was quite dismayed that 1) they didn’t have one of those little signs in the bathroom about cutting down on water waste by not washing our towels and sheets every day 2) NO recycling. I know Mayor Daly wants to make Chicago the greenest city in the country. I noticed the recycling containers all over town and in the airport.. now get them in hotels and businesses!

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I was pretty excited on April 17th and not just because Earth Day was just around the corner.

We decided to move forward with an initiative called Lean, Clean, & Green, and will be working closely with the good folks at Missouri Enterprise to reduce waste, reduce energy usage, and source the greenest supplies for our company. Lean manufacturing has long been a sought after method of manufacturers wanting to streamline their operations to not only reduce waste of materials, but also reduce wasted TIME. Consultants get paid big bucks to help manufacturing businesses “lean” their operations, with the idea that the money will be returned to the company tenfold (or more) in the savings it will see in a short period of time.

We have decided to work with Missouri Enterprise on this program for several reasons:

1. Missouri Enterprise is actually a not-for-profit consulting firm (which is somewhat misleading, because they’re really all about profit, but in a way that’s good for everyone involved). This means that they offer services at a much lower cost than traditional consulting firms, and that means that a small family business like ours can actually work with them.
2. We love their mission: to help Missouri businesses succeed! ’nuff said.
3. They have a stake in seeing us succeed: they’re compensated based on the effectiveness of the program they enlist us in.
4. This program is about much more than just streamlining our operation. It will give us our initial diagnosis and plan of action for greening our company.
5. We’ve been chosen to receive some grant assistance to cover the cost of the program, making it affordable for us AND allowing us to be a pilot project of the program in Missouri. Yeah, basically we’re the guinea pig.

Missouri Enterprise logo

Check out more on Missouri Enterprise on their website.

Check out more on their Lean, Clean, and Green program here.

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from Jan 08 Printwear magazine:

The global organic cotton apparel, home and personal care products market topped one billion dollars in 2006, with estimates projecting many times that number in years to come, according to results of a forthcoming report from Berkeley-based Organic Exchange (OE). Report highlights were released at the organization’s fifth annual conference and marketplace in Monterey, Oct 31 – Nov 2, with more than 330 professionals from 39 countries in attendance, representing the entire global organic fiber supply chain. According to the OE Organic Cotton Market Report 2007, global retail sales for organic cotton products is projected to increase 83% to $1.9 billion by the end of 2007, $3.5 billion in 2008, $4.5 billion in 2009, and $6.8 billion in 2010.

Organic Exchange logo

Reasons for past market growth include strong consumer demand for apparel, home textile and personal care products containing organic fibers as well as expansion of organic cotton programs by companies that have been in the organic market for several years. Additionally, organic cotton apparel has become more fashion-forward, with a wider variety of products across categories. Other trends include increased use of other organic fibers, such as organic wool, linen, and even leather, and certification to standards such as the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) and Oeko-Tex processing standards, as well as Fair Trade. Founded in 2002, OE facilitates expansion of the global organic cotton fiber supply by working closely with farmers, leading brands and retailers and their business partners to develop organic cotton programs.

{molly’s 2 cents: Organic Exchange is an awesome organization– great example of folks who are in it for the right reasons!}

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