Proximity is a Business Advantage

Amcor-Method Chicago

Amcor-Method Chicago

I am highly impressed with the new manufacturing plant in Chicago going for Platinum LEED that will include manufacturing facilities for two separate but inter-related companies. Amcor Rigid Plastics will make the bottles that Method Products will fill with their naturally derived and biodegradable cleaning products. Method Products is an example of conscious capitalism, using business to do social and environmental good, involved in the Cradle-to-Cradle program, animal friendly, climate conscious and responsible sourcing. Method is putting their money into action with the design of their new manufacturing facility.

Method is headquartered in San Francisco and will incorporate an array of green building elements into its first US manufacturing plant. The building is on 5 acres of a 22 acre site on the south side of Chicago. The plans include what would be currently the world’s biggest green roof at 75,000 SqFt. This green roof is expected to take urban farming to new heights with greenhouses that can grow up to 1 million pounds of fresh produce a year for local grocers and restaurants.

There will be much more making this building very environmentally friendly including solar panels on the building and in the parking lot. A refurbished 230 Ft tall wind turbine will generate a significant amount of the new plant’s energy needs. The combined production of wind and solar on site are expected to provide half of the factory’s annual electrical consumption.

Method Ocean Plastic

This is how things get my attention in a big way. Not all that long ago before this week’s blog was a glimmer in my own imagination, I was talking with a business associate that I am quite fond of – Tamsin Ettefagh of Envision Plastics. We share a love of recycling and especially recycling related to plastics. It came up coincidentally during our conversation that they are involved in Method’s ocean plastic project.

Method teamed up with local beach clean-up groups and volunteers to collect plastic debris from the beaches of Hawai’i and they have this plastic processed into a form that they can use to make this bottle. This is just one way that Method walks its talk – using design innovation to not only solve a problem but to also bring awareness to that problem inspiring real change.

What was “the problem” ? According to Method’s website it is this – “several million tons of plastic makes its way into our oceans every year, polluting the environment and hurting our marine populations. And the problem isn’t going away anytime soon as more plastic washes up on beaches everyday.” Getting real about what can be done, they realized that as “a small soap company, we know we can’t clean up the world’s oceans. But we can raise awareness about the issue and use our business to demonstrate smart ways of using and reusing the plastics that are already on the planet.” Method believes that they can prove that solutions exist, even if it is only at a small scale.

The creative and innovative folks at Envision Plastics were willing to take a chance on making the impossible possible, taking plastic from the beaches of Hawai’i and turning it into resin for Method’s bottles. Method believes that their initiative works to show how design can be used to tackle environmental problems. They don’t believe that their making bottles out of trash will completely solve the ocean’s plastic problem. But they do believe that there are alternatives to using virgin materials, Post-consumer Recycled plastic for example, and they are committed to using these alternatives in all of their bottles.

Yemm & Hart is ALSO committed to using Post-consumer Recycled plastic in our Origins material. We are proud to partner with a genuinely caring company like Envision Plastics to bring our materials to your architectural and interior design projects.

So, back to the title of this blog and the new manufacturing facility in Chicago, the proximity part is that Amcor Rigid Plastics will have a bottle production operation right there within Method’s new facility. Amcor is one of the world’s largest packaging manufacturers with 60 facilities in 13 countries employing 27,000 people. Amcor has 23 on-site bottling operations with 8 in the United States. The other on-site operations are in Latin America.

Clearly one of the primary benefits of utilizing shared space this way is reducing transportation (ie the carbon footprint in manufacturing products). Using 100% Post-consumer Recycled (PCR) resin lowers cradle-to-gate energy consumption by 52% and the packaging carbon footprint by 57%. The on-site production will take 600 trucks off the road each year and eliminate an estimated 200 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Wind Turbine Detail

Amor’s presence also presented challenges for achieving the highest LEED certification. According to Amcor’s account manager, Dan Gehling, “Blow-molding operations are more energy intensive than filling operations.” The addition of the bottle manufacturing on site required thoughtful solutions to off-set that reality. The use of renewable energy from wind power, skylights and certain building materials allowed them to meet cradle-to-cradle requirements.

I have not been a consumer of Method products but I am definitely going to look at replacing my Seventh Generation products (nothing to be ashamed of) with some of Method’s products for my next purchases. I walk the talk too !!

~ Information Resources

New Amcor, Method project taking sustainability to a platinum level by Catherine Kavanaugh posted Oct 16, 2014 in PlasticsNews – http://www.plasticsnews.com/article/20141016/NEWS/141019951/new-amcor-method-project-taking-sustainability-to-a-platinum-level

Method – Beyond The Bottle – http://methodhome.com/beyond-the-bottle/business-for-good/

Method – Ocean Plastic – http://methodhome.com/beyond-the-bottle/ocean-plastic/

Recycled HDPE Resins – Pure as Prime – http://envisionplastics.com/

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Blog author ~ Deborah Hart Yemm is co-founder of
Yemm & Hart, a green materials producer

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What to do when Life isn’t Fair

The Eras Family in 2012

The Eras Family in 2012

I really can’t understand this. I really can’t understand why my friend’s ten year old boy/girl twins and her loving husband have a funeral for her today instead of having her. Why are we losing so many of our loved ones to cancer ? What is it that is causing this ? And what can we do about that ? Those who treat cancer tell us it’s all about attitude and confidence. My friend had all the best of those attributes in her favor upon receiving her diagnosis. If that was what made the difference, she would be winning her battle and not already lost to it. What does Triple Negative Breast Cancer mean anyway ? I won’t pretend to know. My heart says it’s not this, and not this, and not this and because it doesn’t conform to the medical community’s expectations, we really don’t know what to do about it. Nothing we try is working. And maybe it’s not that.

All I know is that a brilliant lawyer who’s passion was the well-being of women and children is no longer practicing law. All I know is that an enormously funny comedienne isn’t making anyone laugh today. All I know is that the mother who loved nothing more in life than her children and that her children loved nothing as much as their amazing mother are bereft. I know that a very loving husband is now a widower. None of this makes sense.

Toxic Chemical Exposure

What I do know equally well is that there are too many chemicals floating around throughout our environment and there seems to be no end to the expanding number of these and no way for the EPA and the NIH and anyone else charged with the responsibility of keeping our environment safe to keep up with the threats. And I know that I do totally suspect that some of the cancers that are robbing families of their loved ones are directly the fault of at least some of these chemicals that we are assaulted with each day.

It just so happens that October has been Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to Physicians for Social Responsibility, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for 1 in 4 deaths and robs us of 1,500 lives every day. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women and the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in women. In the US, breast cancer results in the highest mortality rates of any cancer in women between the ages of 20 and 59. Today, I have chosen to honor my friend by putting a real face and a real family into the statistics. I would guess that almost every person knows someone or some family who has been affected. I know more than a handful and several who left young children behind without mothers or fathers. This is simply unacceptable.

Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness

In addition to the pain and suffering caused by cancer, the disease places an enormous economic burden on our society. Many cancers are preventable. In a May 2010 report by the President’s Cancer Panel under President Obama, the conclusion was “the true burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated”. Exposure to environmental carcinogens (chemicals or substances that can lead to the development of cancer) can occur in the workplace and in the home, as well as through consumer products, medical treatments, and lifestyle choices. It has long been known that exposure to high levels of certain chemicals, such as those in some occupational settings, can cause cancer. And there is now growing scientific evidence that exposure to lower levels of chemicals in the general environment is contributing to society’s cancer burden.

I am grateful that the Architectural and Interior Design communities are trying to do something about all of this. There is a lot of attention currently being given to indoor air quality in the built environment that encloses so many of us for so many hours of our lives each day. Environmental Product Declarations and Health Product Declarations may be complex and difficult to prepare accurately but at least its a step in the right direction. If we know what we are being exposed to, it may be that better alternatives which are less toxic and lethal could be found.

Movie - Michael Clayton

Movie – Michael Clayton

So yes my heart is heavy and I’m looking for something to blame for the senseless loss of a brilliant and vibrant human being. I don’t honestly know what caused the cancer that ultimately caused my friend’s untimely demise. But I do know that there are those in the chemical business who are not honest with us and who will do anything to keep the profits rolling in. I would suggest to anyone that cares, the George Clooney movie Michael Clayton (nominated for 7 Academy Awards) that my family watched the other night.

I realize that this movie is fiction but my heart tells me that there is even so a lot of unfortunate truth behind the story that makes the movie entirely credible. We should not be deceived into believing that the lack of accountability and transparency that is typical of the chemical industry is acceptable. And like the behavior of the tobacco companies we should not underestimate what the chemical industry is willing to do to protect themselves.

Tuesday, Nov 4th is election day in the United States. It does matter who you choose to represent you. Before you step into the voting booth be sure to check the environmental score of the politician you plan to vote for. Go to On-the-Issues.org (see Information Resources below). The Environment is about more than Climate Change, it’s totally about quality of life on this planet. So please DO vote. It’s the only avenue that most of us have to make any difference at all at the governmental level. It may not seem like much but it IS something every person of mature age can do.

Vote Nov 4

This sad blog and my commitment to being a part of the change that I wish to see in the world is dedicated today to my awesome friend, Lorraine Breitman Eras, and to her beautiful little family who now must find a way to continue through life without her shining presence there with them.

~ Information Resources

Cancer and Toxic Chemicals posted at the Physicians for Social Responsibility website – http://www.psr.org/environment-and-health/confronting-toxics/cancer-and-toxic-chemicals.html

Michael Clayton (film) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Clayton_(film)

Environment at On the Issues.org – http://www.ontheissues.org/Environment.htm#Headlines

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Blog author ~ Deborah Hart Yemm is co-founder of
Yemm & Hart, a green materials producer

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