Advance Packaging is no stranger to the environment and the impact a company can have on it. “Advance Packaging Corp. understands that clean manufacturing, the development of people, and economic stability are keys to long term viability,” reads its Corporate Sustainability Statement. “We are committed to invest the resources necessary to remain a competitive, ethical and socially responsible enterprise.” Long before “going green” became a popular thing to do, it was concerned with sustainability—as far back as the 1980s, when Cole says the push for recycled content affected the entire paper industry.
“When we built the new plant, we also purchased several new machines, and the newer technology uses far less energy than its older counterparts,” she notes. “There is certainly a growing awareness of sustainability, and our community is very involved with the movement, but the biggest reason we’ve taken the steps we have is because we genuinely believe it is our responsibility.”
Beyond its eco friendly new facility, Advance Packaging is also certified with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and only purchases from paper suppliers who comply with SFI standards. The company also instituted what it calls a “cooler corrugating philosophy” in 2010. By keeping paper temperatures below 212 degrees Fahrenheit, there is less waste due to over drying. And this year it will introduce a sustainability committee made up of employees from different departments, tasked with identifying areas of continuous improvement in its environmental footprint, social responsibilities and economic opportunities.
Cole lists several other ways Advance Packaging minds its manners with Mother Nature:
- A robust recycling program in its plant, both through recycled process waste and bins for employee use set up throughout the facility
- Detergents, starch from the corrugator and ink solids pulled from process water are biodegradable
- A noted lack of outdoor dumpsters and trash cans, designed to prevent any leaching through rain water runoff
- Unused ink from presses is remixed in the ink kitchen, when possible, for other runs
Acknowledging the tremendous legwork that went into the company’s sustainability work, idh’s Ian Hole said, “Advance Packaging showed a direct ambition to not only improve the company’s energy performance and save money, but to achieve it through careful association with the community and environment, in which many of its employees probably live. This required much analysis and planning.”
Green, Not Just for the Green
Cole admits that sustainability does make business sense. The 22 percent drop in natural gas usage when compared to the amount of corrugated material produced is proof of that, as are savings from producing less waste and consuming less energy.
It also benefits the community, of which Advance Packaging is a part. Cole points out that her company’s hometown of Grand Rapids is also home to many other sustainably minded businesses. Working toward common goals makes the city and surrounding area “a great place to live and work.” Investing in employees, the community, and local environment means a strong workforce and the availability of resources.
“In detailed review of Advance Packaging submission for this year’s Sustainability Excellence Award, it was observed the company made a serious attempt in not only implementing various measures, but also engaging the work force and educating the public to become more cognizant of the importance of recycling and energy efficiency measures,” said Anoosheh M. Oskouian, president and CEO of Ship & Shore Environmental, Inc. “After all, the public’s education carries a large weight on sustaining the initial measures and success of the program.”
But moving and pouring resources into the wetlands project did not positively affect Advance Packaging’s bottom line—the company makes money printing corrugated boxes, not caring about the environment. Simply put, that project wasn’t designed to generate revenue. Instead, it serves as the most obvious example of a genuine awareness of the environment, the impact a single company can have—positive and negative—and a commitment to doing what’s possible to do more good than harm, not to pad the books, but because it’s the right thing to do.
“As a corrugated manufacturer, we rely heavily on Earth’s natural resources—namely trees,” Cole says. “We want to be around to provide packaging long into the future. That means taking care of our community so we have employees, our economic viability, and the resources we need to produce our product.