Water usage in Aurora's new plant is half of that used in its earlier plant
Aurora Specialty Textiles Group has evolved from its roots as a cotton spinning mill in Aurora, Illinois, to a textile processing operation. Fabric bleaching and preparation provided the building blocks from which Aurora has grown. Paulami Chatterjee chatted with company president Dan LaTurno on the occasion of World Environment Day to know about Aurora's sustainability goals, technologies and its programmes to protect the environment.
What are the sustainability plans and certifications Aurora has adopted through the years?
We began the planning process for implementing ISO14001 in 2009 and are certified to the latest standard (ISO14001:2015) as of February 2018. Aurora is registered with the Smart Ideas for Your Business Programme to save electricity through ComEd (regional electric utility) and the Energy Smart programme to save natural gas through Nicor Gas.
Do you have an environmental management system (EMS) in place? Do you follow any specific standard for that?
Yes, we follow the ISO14001, a globally-accepted standard and framework for establishing, implementing and maintaining an ongoing EMS. It provides a comprehensive framework for managing all aspects of an EMS and ensures the organisation has a commitment to continual improvement, pollution prevention and compliance with requirements. Aurora's EMS goals include reducing landfill waste, reducing energy consumption and improving waste water processing. ISO14001 provides evidence and reassurance to our customers and supply chain partners that we have an EMS plan in place that we are following daily at all levels of the organisation. Implementation involves all our employees and buy-in from employees at every level, in every department, as well as employee training.
What did you keep in mind while designing your new plant in Yorkville, Illinois?
We relocated manufacturing operations to the new plant in 2015. The natural gas and electricity components of our new plant were designed to significantly reduce manufacturing carbon footprint. The reduction in natural gas and electricity consumption at the new plant represents an annual reduction of 4,134 metric tonnes of CO2. That is the equivalent of 465,178 gallons of gasoline per year or 4,523,015 pounds of coal burnt.
We follow specific US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Illinois EPA (IEPA) guidelines, which are now easier to manage than at the old plant. For example, our national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) for storm water runoff is easier to manage at Yorkville because all the manufacturing is under a single roof. We have installed new pipes and drains. There is also no bulk storage of chemistries onsite or outdoor tanks, which makes management of chemicals safer. The air permit requirements are easier to manage in the new plant because the new equipment is so efficient.
We do not use solvent-based chemistries, solvent-based coatings or finishes, but only water-based chemistries at the old and new plants. All our products are made with water-based chemistries.
What are the new measures taken in the new plant to reduce electric and natural gas consumption?
The measures taken in the new plant to reduce electric and natural gas consumption are as follows:
Aurora made the commitment to invest in and install the best equipment.
Over $1 million was invested in new equipment, which includes variable speed drives, new higher efficiency boilers powered by gas, a building automation system (BAS), unit heaters, proper insulation and heat exchangers.
Untold manpower hours from 2009 to present were invested in developing Aurora's sustainability plan.
Additional labour hours were spent installing the equipment.
We replaced steam, which was used for heating in some areas of the former plant,
with natural gas heaters throughout the new plant.
In the new plant we also installed a state-of-the-art finishing wide width range, combined and optimised two standard-width finishing ranges into one, and then recycled two older ranges that were beyond their useful life by deconstructing them and recycling the metal.
The new plant exclusively uses LED lighting, which is both energy-efficient and long-lasting. This also reduces landfill waste.
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