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