Last week, I took a trip down to Mannington Mills in Salem, NJ to meet with vice president of environmental Dave Kitts and tour the plant for an article I’m writing for Contract magazine’s April sustainability focus. The idea was to learn more about how one of their sustainable flooring products was made from start to finish, but I wound up discovering that sustainability at the company went well beyond its efforts to recycle post-consumer content into eco-friendly flooring (which made my two-plus hour drive well worth it).
Most interesting to me was the company’s philosophy on not only creating green, but acting green, proving that actions peak louder than words. Kitts explained to me in a slideshow presentation about Mannington’s homegrown metric to reduce waste and look to incorporate recycled content: waste in ÷ waste out > 1
By aiming to have the final metric equal a sum greater than one, it goals the company to recycle more than it sends to the landfills. (For example, 100 tons of reclaimed carpet divided by, let’s say, 50 tons of waste sent to landfills results in a total of two.) Last year (2009) was the first year that several of Mannington’s plants were successful in reaching the metric.
Another accomplishment that Kitts is proud of is the sheer volume of recycling. In 2009, Mannington six manufacturing plants brought in over 9,650 tons of waste (that’s equivalent to the weight of over 1600 elephants!)
“Of the multitude of commitments that are driving our smart products and processes, our commitment to be a net user of waste is perhaps the most powerful,” Kitts says.
Additionally, Mannington has made considerable efforts to give back to its local community, both environmentally and socially. Surrounded by wetlands, the company has teamed with organizations such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation and NJ Audubon Society to restore the Riparian buffer ecosystem next to the plant. Mannington has built bird nesting colonies on site for Purple Martins to nest (the birds migrate from NJ to Africa each year), created programs where local students can work to plant shrubs and extend the birds’ habitat, and even encourages one of its workers (who’s a registered beekeeper) to farm honey bees on the property.
Read more about sustainability at Mannington in April at ContractMagazine.com