That program involved investing over $1 million in new equipment, moving from the former plant in Aurora, IL, to a new manufacturing facility in nearby Yorkville, IL, and spending millions more retrofitting and redesigning the new plant with sustainability upgrades. It also involved making a commitment to developing and executing a comprehensive, ongoing Environmental Management System (EMS) that involved the participation of employees at all levels of the organization.
Today, nine years later, Aurora’s new plant in Yorkville is a global model for sustainable manufacturing:
- The new plant is ISO.14001:2015 certified. ISO.14001:2015 is the most recent version. ISO:14001 is a comprehensive, globally-accepted standard and framework for establishing, implementing and maintaining an ongoing Environmental Management System.
- The natural gas and electricity components of Aurora’s new plant were designed to significantly reduce Aurora’s manufacturing carbon footprint. This resulted in reductions in electricity and natural gas consumption that add up to an annual equivalent of reducing 465,178 gallons of gasoline or 4,523,015 pounds of coal burned.
- The new plant exclusively uses LED lighting, which is both energy-efficient and long-lasting and reduces landfill waste. This includes 75+ exterior lights and 500+ interior lights.
- Water usage in the new plant is currently 50% less than the amount of water used annually in the Aurora plant.
- Other measures are being taken to reduce or eliminate pollution including programs to recycle water, reduce effluent, reduce landfill waste and find additional ways to reduce energy consumption and water consumption.
Aurora is also helping other North American manufacturers learn how to integrate sustainability measures into their operations. As members of the Valley Industrial Association (VIA) in Northern Illinois, Aurora has developed presentations dedicated to sharing state-of-the-art sustainability management ideas with other manufacturing operations. One example is the sustainability round table held at Aurora in August 2018 for members of the Valley Industrial Association in Illinois.
At that workshop, Aurora managers shared details of Aurora’s EMS plan and provided tips and advice to attendees on how to begin reducing energy consumption, pollution and environmental impact at their plants. The August workshop included a Q&A session where Aurora managers helped attendees address sustainability issues in their plants.
“We are very proud of the work we have done here building a sustainable plant and the active role we are taking helping other manufacturers in Northern Illinois learn how to make similar upgrades to their operations,” says Dan LaTurno, president of Aurora Specialty Textiles Group. “It’s taken a great deal of work and a deep commitment on the part of all of our employees to get to this point. But it’s very gratifying.”
He added that Aurora’s Yorkville plant is better for the environment than, say, a plant in a country with no similar laws and guidelines.
“The Aurora plant operates under an EPA-regulated and approved air permit designed to protect air quality. This includes significant limits on volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and hazardous air pollutants (HAP’s) that might be released by a manufacturing operation,” he adds. “The plant also operates under a water discharge permit which sets strict standards for the content and amount of effluent discharged.”
Treated effluent discharged from a plant in the U.S., such as Aurora’s, which follows EPA guidelines, is significantly kinder to water regional water resources than effluent discharged by manufacturers in countries with no (or limited) environmental enforcement agencies.
Aurora’s sustainability program also benefits their customers.
“Increasingly, consumers are looking for products made by manufacturers who are committed to using manufacturing processes that are enhanced to protect the environment,” says LaTurno. “In turn, many brands are looking for supply chain partners that have verifiable sustainability programs. Aurora is a supply chain partner with a verifiable sustainability commitment their customers can count on.”