Cummins Innovates to Reduce Global Waste Footprint
In Fridley, Minn., Cummins is making significant strides to reduce production waste thanks in part to a partnership with Rise, Inc. The local not-for-profit helps create job opportunities for people who have significant disabilities and other employment barriers.
The Rise employees work on a variety of tasks including the plant’s recycling efforts, which have increased significantly in recent years. Along with other steps, Cummins Power Generation in 2012 eliminated 34 percent of the solid waste that had been going to landfills – an annual cost savings of $28,000.
The initiative is just one of many innovative ways Cummins facilities around the world are reducing, reusing and recycling the solid waste the Company produces. The most comprehensive study to date of waste handling at Cummins showed that nearly 90 percent of the waste the Company generated, or just over 155,000 metric tons, was recycled in 2011.
“Partners such as Rise along with the dedication and expertise of Cummins employees are the reason we’ve made significant improvements in our global waste footprint in a relatively short period of time,” said Ernie Smith, Corporate Environmental Manager for Cummins.
“However, there is still much to be done and it will require innovation, creative partnerships and most importantly, a widespread commitment to avoid waste in all aspects of our operations,” he said.
The 2011 analysis showed that about 61 percent of the Company’s waste stream was iron and steel. Wood, used primarily in crates and pallets, accounted for about 14 percent and general refuse and cardboard each made up about 9 percent.
In addition to external partnerships reducing Cummins’ global waste footprint requires a focused effort from many functions within the business. Engineering teams, for example, are working on design improvements to reduce the amount of scrap metal produced through machining and stamping operations.
Cummins’ purchasing staff is developing sustainable packaging guidelines that are intended to encourage suppliers to minimize the amount of packaging materials used for incoming products.
And office employees for several years have been working to reduce the amount of paper they use, while increasing recycling.
“Our focus on waste reduction is driven by our Environmental Management System (page xx) and has been embraced by our suppliers, customers and communities around the world,” Smith said. “As a result, we have collaborated to achieve considerable benefits by way of cost savings, increased productivity and reduced environmental impacts.”
Three Cummins plants have achieved “zero disposal” status while others are nearing that accomplishment. Cummins defines a zero-disposal site as a facility that reuses or recycles all byproducts in a useful manner, leaving nothing to be disposed of by landfill or incineration.
The three zero-disposal sites are:
- The Jamestown (N.Y.) Engine Plant
- The Darlington (U.K.) Engine Plant
- The Cummins Filtration Plant in Quimper, France.
The Company considers technologies that burn waste to create energy as a viable disposal option only after reuse and recycling opportunities have been explored and the waste material contains an appropriate energy value.
Ultimately, Cummins’ goal is to reduce the environmental impacts associated with waste generation, so the management method used for a given waste stream is intended to minimize those impacts.