Iron foundry firm has been admitted to Wisconsin’s Green Tier Program.
Waupaca Foundry Inc., Waupaca, Wisconsin, has been admitted to Wisconsin’s Green Tier program. The program, administered by the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR), recognizes businesses that voluntarily meet environmental regulatory standards and exhibit “proven environmental sustainability.” Green Tier program managers say more than 80 Wisconsin companies are working with the program.
Waupaca Foundry also has earned the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)Engineering Excellence Award in Wisconsin as well as a National ACEC Engineering Excellence Recognition Award for a project that promotes the re-use of foundry byproducts.
According to Waupaca Foundry President and CEO Gary Gigante, sustainability is central to its ductile iron and gray iron casting operations. “Being environmentally responsible is not only the right thing to do, it’s the best thing to do for our employees and our customers,” says Gigante. “Pollution control and recycling ensures a healthy environment for our team members and creating a sustainable manufacturing process controls cost for our customers,” he adds.
To achieve and maintain the standards, Waupaca Foundry employs a corporate environmental manager and environmental staff at each of its six foundries. The teams are charged with measuring and monitoring the foundry’s impact on the environment and to ensure regulatory requirements are met.
“We have exceeded minimum regulatory requirements for years,” says Bryant Esch, environmental coordinator. “Our environmental controls are considered the best available in the industry and in many cases we have installed elective pollution control technologies years before they were required.”
For each year it has been enrolled, Waupaca Foundry has received a commendation from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings, Better Plants Program. In that program, companies voluntarily make energy efficiency a business goal, establish energy management plans and commit to reduce the energy intensity of manufacturing operations by 25 percent over 10 years.
Specific sustainability initiatives at Waupaca include:
- About 70 percent of the foundry sand byproducts that can no longer be used in metal casting are cleaned and reused in local projects including road and general construction, agriculture and geotechnical fill. The firm has been recycling foundry sand and related materials for more than two decades.
- Closed-loop cooling water systems have reduced plant water cooling demands by 80 percent or more when all are online. In some cases, non-contact cooling water discharges are reduced to near zero and daily water use is drastically reduced.
- The company began retrofitting plants with upgraded air pollution controls beginning in 1999. Both air emission controls and leak detection technology have surpassed regulatory requirements and created new industry benchmarks in pollution control, says Waupaca.
In order to earn a Green Tier designation, companies must be ISO 14001 certified; must proactively maintain environmental standards; must agree to submit an annual environmental report; and must be audited by the DNR. Waupaca Foundry officially received the designation on March 2, 2015.
The engineering awards were earned based on a program designed to reuse spent foundry sands and slag byproducts of the metal casting process. Waupaca Foundry recycles 800,000 tons of sand annually, but eventually it can no longer be re-used. Rather than sending the byproducts to a landfill, Waupaca Foundry repurposed the materials to create what it calls a clean, non-toxic product that can be used in a variety of applications and industries.
During a three-year study conducted by the Wisconsin DNR and Waupaca Foundry, this material was tested as a replacement for clay soils used to construct low permeability barriers in landfills. As a result, select foundry sand byproducts were approved as a suitable alternative barrier layer in landfill liner construction on May 5, 2014. Waupaca Foundry will now reduce the landfill’s construction costs, extend the life of the landfill, reduce the landfill’s environmental impact and improve the sustainability of its operations, says the company.
Now, more than 75 percent of the sand byproducts generated from Waupaca Foundry processes are being incorporated into beneficial reuse projects in lieu of landfill disposal. Examples of such uses include geotechnical fill, road construction, mine reclamations, agricultural projects, cement manufacturing, concrete products, commercial blasting media and asphalt.