EDF Climate Corps fellow | February 10, 2015
By: Katherine Tejano, Class of 2015 Master Degree Candidate, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
Waking up each morning, all of us (we hope) brush our teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Maybe we hop in the shower, use our shampoo, conditioner, body wash and afterwards slather on some lotion. A few of us may even take a multivitamin with our morning meal to start our day. Your mother may take a fish oil supplement to ease ailing joints, or you may take some vitamin C before taking a flight across the country.
When you really think about it, the amounts of consumer products we all use every day help us lead our modern lives, but making them available to us can significantly impact the environment. The good news is that an increasing number of companies are looking to make their operations more sustainable so we can enjoy these products but have less of an environmental impact.
The business case for investigating the social and environmental impacts in internal operations and throughout the supply chain has been growing in recent years, and with good reason. Benefits for doing so include mitigating risk for business continuity, conserving resources and cost savings just to name a few. Pharmavite LLC, the maker of Nature Made nutritional supplements and SoyJoy snack bars, is one such company committed to health, wellness and sustainability. The company has long been involved in various sustainability initiatives over the years, answering questions like:
Do three bottles really need to be shrink wrapped to send to customers?
If the packaging process changed, could product shipments be consolidated to reduce trucking mileage?
The answers to these questions will vary by company, but by decreasing packaging to reduce waste and by transporting products via freight instead of trucking, Pharmavite is working towards making its operations more efficient and environmentally friendly.
In addition, 2014 marks the third year in a row that Pharmavite has prepared a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and disclosed its emissions to CDP, an international non-profit organization which provides a platform for organizations to voluntarily share vital environmental information with the public. To curtail GHG emissions and reduce rising operating costs, the company participated in EDF Climate Corps for the first time last year. As Pharmavite's EDF Climate Corps fellow, I worked to identify the state of energy management and potential energy-efficiency projects available at Pharmavite’s industrial locations in Southern California. I also helped the company investigate water reduction initiatives, research alternative multi-modal transportation options for employees and supported other exciting sustainability projects.
Pharmavite has seen tremendous growth over the last decade, and its manufacturing facilities have especially great opportunities for energy savings. Combined with rising utility prices in California and rebates offered by local utilities, I found a number of projects that could reduce several metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and save the company money. For example, I found that lighting efficiency projects could result in significant savings in manufacturing and lab environments in particular. In these spaces, operations run 24/7 with large equipment, and precise measurements need to be taken, so it has to be brighter than in a more traditional, commercial office space. As a result, reducing the energy used to light these manufacturing and lab rooms can have a greater return than in comparison to a commercial lighting project.
But I’ll have to be honest, this wasn’t easy. I climbed up on warehouse roofs, navigated small maintenance rooms and paced up and down chillers, cooling towers, dusters, air compressor units and other support equipment. The result has been a comprehensive evaluation of energy-efficiency opportunities that, if implemented, could save money and provide environmental benefits: A win-win for both consumers and Pharmavite.
About EDF Climate Corps
EDF Climate Corps (edfclimatecorps.org) taps the talents of tomorrow’s leaders to save energy, money and the environment by placing specially trained EDF fellows in companies, cities and universities as dedicated energy problem solvers. Working with hundreds of leading organizations, EDF Climate Corps has uncovered nearly $1.4 billion in energy savings. For more information, visit edfclimatecorps.org. Read our blog at edfclimatecorps.org/blog. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/edfbiz and on Facebook at facebook.com/EDFClimateCorps.