At around the same time, the company was asked to manufacture a biocomposite fiberglass boat equipped with a biodiesel engine so Campion partnered with engine supplier Volvo Penta and delivered the craft in May 2010. Flying back from the client meeting in Ontario, Elliott had an epiphany. What if Campion became the world’s first and foremost green boat builder? What would that mean? How would they do it? That’s when the company’s commitment took shape.

Developing a Strategy

Once companies decide to embed green thinking into their culture, it helps to have a framework to analyze current processes and identify new sources of environmental, revenue and cost reduction opportunities: In short, a strategy that helps them to adopt sustainable business practices.

For Kohler Co. in Kohler, Wis., whose kitchen and bath division uses composites to manufacture tubs, whirlpools, shower enclosures and more, the initiative began when senior management made the decision to take social responsibility for its environmental footprint, including its worldwide manufacturing facilities. “We chose to be environmental stewards across all of our business groups,” says Tony Biddle, environment health and safety specialist – beneficial reuse. Kohler Co. focused its efforts in three main areas – waste diversion, energy savings and water usage.

“Each division was charged with looking at their processes and identifying where they produced the largest waste and consumed the most energy and water to identify where they could be more efficient,” says Biddle. Plant operations managers then developed site-specific plans and goals to reduce environmental impacts and achieve corporate sustainability targets.

Kohler Co. established a corporate environmental leadership team to provide guidance and serve as a resource. While external to each division, team members such as Biddle are available to consult and facilitate the sharing of best practices. “If it works in one location, it may work in another, or a new procedure can be developed based on a version of the best practice,” says Biddle.

Biddle secures projects to divert the company’s manufacturing waste from disposal through recycling or reuse. “We are involved with ACMA and the Green Composites Council to collaborate in identifying ways to divert composite-based scrap, trim flash or defective product from reaching landfills,” he says. “Finding ways to reuse or recycle materials such as composites is essential, especially given that competitive materials such as concrete, steel and wood have more established reuse markets.”

Elliott notes that Campion Marine already had practices and procedures in place for lean manufacturing. “We decided to use that as our structure to help us go green,” he says. “We already evaluated everything we did by asking, ‘Is this lean?’ Now we ask, ‘and is it green?’”