“Going green” actually comes quite naturally to us at Abbott-Action. Corrugated products are, in themselves, sustainable. However, we recognize that, being stewards of our planet, we must do more than just produce and sell our corrugated packaging products. Abbott-Action accepts this position and incorporates sustainability into our lives and into the early stages of product development. It is in this way that we can surpass this responsibility by improving, not sacrificing, the quality and effectiveness of the final product and eliciting only positive impacts on our environment.
When Abbott-Action relocated its corrugated packaging manufacturing facility manufacturing facility in 2013 from Canton, Massachusetts to Attleboro, Massachusetts – a facility built in the late 1960’s – we understood renovations would be necessary. However, from planning through production, we were insistent that a keen focus be kept on sustainability. In a short time, we have made enormous strides in reducing our carbon footprint, eliminating a significant number of greenhouse gasses as well as overall waste.
We first illuminated the situation with the addition of 115 skylights. Now, in a 160,000 square-foot facility, this process of day lighting greatly reduced the cost of electricity previously used. Equally important, the skylights save 700,000 kilowatt hours per year . . . the equivalent of 483 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s the same number of greenhouse gas emissions from 102 passenger cars or 1,641,788 miles per year driven by an average passenger vehicle!
In addition, our skylights have allowed natural light to shine on our employees . . . lifting-up morale, improving product quality, and increasing productivity.
Most converting facilities use large electric motors to power fans and blowers that suck the scrap through ductwork at speeds of 40 mph. The scrap is then collected in a compactor and compressed into bales of waste to be recycled at a paper mill. On top of that, the dust is typically captured by secondary filtration systems, which use tremendous amounts of compressed air and are very costly. Some corrugated packaging facilities require a series of electric motors that range from 250 to 350 horsepower. During this process, a plant can quickly and wastefully remove conditioned air (heated or cooled) from its facility in a matter of minutes.
At Abbott-Action, the decision was made to invest in a Trench Scrap Removal System. This sustainable scrap removal process operates a straight-line conveyer that is built in a trench located below the manufacturing floor. The discarded corrugated material simply falls onto the conveyor that transports the scrap to a compactor, which creates bales of scrap ready to be transported to a recycling mill. No blowers, fans or crazy expensive electric motors are needed in this procedure.
The daily cost to operate this state-of-the-art system saves up to 90% on electricity when compared to a conventional air system . . . which translates into a savings of 350,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity . . . the equivalent of 241 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s the same number of CO2 emissions from 27,157 gallons of gasoline consumed.
The system also reduces maintenance cost by 50% and further saves 30% on the cost of heating the building because there is no air transfer. It also creates a tighter bale of scrap with fewer air pockets, allowing more material per bale, while reducing the amount of wire needed to hold the bales together. The tighter heavier bales allow more waste per truckload reducing the number of trucks required each year.
Our roof tells the story: With a focus on doing our part to capture—and utilize—renewable energy, in 2014 we added 2,538 solar panels to our building. These panels have resulted in a savings of 1,000,000 kWh annually or 690 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent . . . the annual amount of energy used in 62.9 American homes. The panels are made of solar cells—each cell a small disk comprised of a semiconductor that is attached by wire to a circuit. As the light from the sun strikes the semiconductor, the light is converted into electricity. To span our 160,000 square foot rooftop, that’s a lot of solar cells. In addition to their function, we think the appearance is quite impressive on top of our modern corrugated packaging facility.
Check out our aerial footage:
We’ve also added extensive LED lighting throughout our facility. The lighting includes occupancy sensors and daylight harvesting, as well as web-based smart controls: the lights automatically go ON when motion is detected, and automatically go OFF when there is none; they automatically dim when enough daylight fills the room, and the smart controls mean we no longer need to be in the building to manage and control our lighting requirements.
The energy efficiency continues here, with a savings of 255,000-kilowatt hours of electricity or 176 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent . . . the annual amount of carbon dioxide emissions from 7,326 propane cylinders used for home gas grills.