At Mohawk, we look at waste as both a challenge and an opportunity. We are challenged to find ever more ways to reduce waste, while at the same time recognizing the opportunity to transform waste into something of value. This approach has served us well in our quest to reduce waste-to-landfill intensity 25 percent by 2020 — a goal that we achieved in 2015 five years early.
*These numbers have been restated to reflect the integration of IVC and KAI environmental data.Click to View
*Non-hazardous wastes disposed of directly by the reporting organization or directly confirmed.
**Information on disposal of hazardous wastes provided by the waste contractor.
This accomplishment reflects an intense focus on process efficiency that permeates our organization and the success of our Zero Landfill (ZLF) program, which has been a key accelerator of our progress. From 2014 to 2015 alone, waste intensity decreased 12.47 percent. Since the program’s inception, we have seen 44 manufacturing facilities eliminate or up-cycle their entire manufacturing waste stream to earn ZLF certification. During 2015, 14 sites earned the certification, including eight carpet and rug plants, four laminate plans and two ceramic plants.
The ZLF effort is helping us build a waste-responsible culture on a facility-by-facility basis, while also being responsive to the process waste needs and challenges of those locations. Having initially rolled out the program in our carpet facilities, we began to expand the program across the enterprise in late 2014, with sites in both our laminate and ceramic businesses seeking certification in early 2015.
Through a strategic benchmarking, evaluation and goal-setting process, our ZLF program helps individual sites determine an attainable set of site-specific manufacturing waste reduction targets. Each facility then kicks off a 40-day, on-site campaign to inform, educate and influence employee behavior. This campaign includes the introduction of best practices into facility operations, as well as a communication campaign to enlighten and engage facility employees on waste reduction issues. Each plant is responsible for finding solutions that address each of its waste streams. Mohawk Home’s Sugar Valley plant, for example, devised a method to recycle jute fringe from their weaving process. This has allowed them to remove the trash compactor from their facility completely.
By implementing infrastructure changes and sharing information, these sites throughout the Company have demonstrated that small changes in behavior can add up to create a large impact. Recycling a mere 40 PET bottles, for example, provides Mohawk with enough base materials to create a single 30-by-50-inch rug, while every 10 pounds of recycled corrugated material helps save two gallons of gasoline. Not only do these sustainable choices help protect our planet, but they also help the Company save money.
Thinking outside the box and attacking issues from unlikely angles has also helped our plants reduce waste, achieve ZLF certification and uncover new, unexpected opportunities. At three tile plants, we brought in an external mobile unit to crush fired scrap porcelain floor tiles to be used as a body ingredient, instead of sending it to the landfill. Similarly, looking at the system holistically can, in fact, address multiple issues. By modifying an injection mechanism for Sunnyvale’s dry scrubber air pollution systems, we reduce our air emissions and the amount of lime sorbent needed — thus reducing our solid waste generated. In this instance, we are able to reduce both our emissions and waste.
In our quest to attack different waste streams, we are often presented with interesting tradeoffs. For example, in ceramic production, lime is used to reduce the emissions of fluorine compounds from the kiln firing process. After many unsuccessful attempts to recycle this material in 2015 due to quality issues, the only method of disposal we have currently found is in the landfill. With about 50 tons/year of lime sent to landfill, all other materials, such as fired and unfired scraps and sludge, are completely recycled, allowing the Marazzi plants in Italy to achieve their goal of zero waste to landfill, with the exception of lime. Ironically, there is a beneficial use to this disposal method of lime , which is to fortify the foundation of the landfill itself.