Process Efficiency and Sustainability Case Studies

These companies have saved money, reduced their use of chemicals, and reduced generation of waste and emissions by improving production processes or taking a comprehensive approach to reducing system-wide environmental impact.

Process Efficiency Case Studies

Columbia Manufacturing Inc.

Columbia Manufacturing Inc., a manufacturer of school furniture in Westfield, Massachusetts, eliminated the use of 147,000 gallons of water per day in their plating operations and has saved $3,000,000 in water and sewer fees, among other cost savings, by upgrading the plating equipment and integrating a zero-discharge wastewater treatment system. The new, efficient plating line enables the company to recover and reuse 98% of the plating chemistry that would previously have been lost, resulting in a drastic reduction of hazardous waste generation.


Ophir Optics

Ophir Optics has successfully utilized Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma tools and methodologies for a variety of projects, including toxics use reduction and resource conservation, at their manufacturing facility in North Andover, Massachusetts. As a result of this work, Ophir has reduced its use of toxic chemicals and generation of hazardous waste, and increased the energy efficiency of its manufacturing operations.


Stainless Steel Coatings

The company has taken a number of steps to reduce toxics, improve energy efficiency, and increase worker safety. Input substitutions in the production process have reduced the company’s use of xylenes by 57% and eliminated hexavalent chromium. Also, the company reduced its hazardous waste costs by 52% by implementing a new production schedule.


Environmental Systems Case Studies

Acushnet Rubber Company

Acushnet was the first company in Massachusetts to obtain certification in ISO 14001, an international standard for environmental management. The company was also the first in the world to become certified in ISO 14001, ISO 9001 (a standard for quality programs), and the American automotive industry's QS-9000 quality standards. The company was able to move quickly to achieve ISO 14001 certification by taking advantage of the work previously done in completing a toxics use reduction (TUR) plan.



The company has incorporated toxics use reduction and resource conservation into its operations and developed an Energy Management System (EMS) for energy efficiency. Polartec’s combined savings from its energy conservation projects is just under $1 million per year. In addition to the savings, Polartec’s carbon footprint was reduced by about 21%, with nearly 12,000 tons of CO2 reduced since 2006.


Sustainability and Resource Conservation Case Studies

Clark University

Worcester’s Clark University, which has pioneered research on pollution control, climate mapping, land use change and other environmental issues, began actively mitigating its own environmental impact in the 1980’s. Now, the university has initiatives addressing energy, waste, materials, land use, water, and toxics; incorporating student, faculty, staff and community engagement. The university has publicly affirmed its commitment to sustainability by signing on to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and developing its own Climate Action Plan. Clark’s environmental sustainability efforts are a work in progress requiring continuous improvement and are a manifestation of its long-term commitment to the Clark motto: “Challenge convention, Change our world." Sustainability is well integrated into academics, research, and campus culture.


Noor Oriental Rugs

Noor Oriental Rugs of Cambridge, Massachusetts is an importer and restorer of fine oriental rugs. Its founder, Mohammad Nooraee, is from a family that has been in the fine rug business for more than 300 years. Mr. Nooraee, a graduate of Tehran and Harvard Universities and a master weaver who consults to museums and lectures on rugs and Persian culture, travels abroad frequently to commission and select rugs from traditional weavers in the Middle East. In 2013, OTA staff provided assistance to Noor Oriental Rugs concerning whether it could make claims that its cleaning processes are “green”. 


Sika Sarnafil

Sika Sarnafil, a division of Sika Corporation, is a leading manufacturer of high-tech thermoplastic membranes used in roofing and waterproofing systems. Since the early 1990s, Sika Sarnafil has recycled about four million pounds of trimmings annually from its manufacturing process - material previously destined for local landfills or third-party grinding companies to be shipped back to Canton. The company did not stop there. Very recently, Sika Sarnafil literally began taking resource recovery to new heights; it became the first company in its industry to recycle old vinyl roofs.

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