Fiberglass doors aren’t the only specialty at Therma-Tru. Over the last decade, the environmental health and safety team, which includes shop floor associates, has improved the recycling process by continuously identifying new methods to reduce waste. One example: using foam cut-outs from doors as insulation for barns and animal shelters. In addition to finding a practical application for what would otherwise be wasted material, the sale of the cutouts is now reinvested for further sustainability efforts and to further reduce costs.
“We’ve had many recycling efforts and we build on the program year after year by looking for new ways to reduce and reutilize waste including plastic, cardboard, polyfilm, wood, metal and paper,” said Rick Goodman, director of environmental health and safety at Therma-Tru. “During our production process, we cut out a portion of the foamed door to make an opening for a window, and realized these cut-outs could be reused by farming industries to insulate animal shelters, barns and storage buildings.”
New Program Leads to Recycling Wood, Plastic and More
Therma-Tru’s recycling and selling program received more emphasis at their Butler, Indiana, facility starting in 2006. At the time, the facility had already started recycling paper, cardboard, a few pallets and some steel and metal flush cutouts. Through industry research, Therma-Tru’s environmental health and safety team identified the opportunity to sell the discarded insulated cutout in their fiberglass doors, achieving a milestone for their waste reduction. Around the same time, they also developed a program to recycle wood, dust collector fines, plastic, more metals and aluminum. These ongoing efforts have led them to better understand how to recycle most of the different categories of waste produced in their facilities. Currently, about 45% of the total waste is being recycled in some way.
Associate Teams Streamline the Recycling Process
“We credit our teams with everything from finding ways to reuse materials in new ways, to improved efficiencies in managing the entire recycling process,” said Goodman. “For instance, we created associate teams to help identify and streamline the recycling processes for sorting and loading on vendors’ trucks.”
More recently, the environmental team began investigating a new process in which fiberglass scraps are combined with cement. Currently the cement industry is using other fillers in concrete, but they believe that fiberglass, if used correctly, could be reused in this industry as well.
More than $1 Million Dollars Saved Due to Recycling Efforts
Therma-Tru was able to save more than one million dollars through their recycling program in 2013. That money is reinvested to buy compactors and other supplies for recycling, as well as funding employee celebrations at the facilities while reducing costs. “We like to keep everyone motivated to keep our associates safe, care for the environment and to continually improve the business,” said Goodman.