Aggressive Approach to Sustainability Reduces Waste & Energy Consumption

Commercial Vehicle Component Manufacturer Bendix Cuts Waste to Landfill by 97%

Ohio based Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, has reduced the volume of waste it sends to landfill by 97% and cut energy consumption by 10 million kWh over the past five years

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Ohio based Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, which manufacturers active safety technologies, energy management solutions, and air brake charging, and control systems and components, has reduced the volume of waste it sends to landfill by 97% over the past five years.

The company added that it also helped raise the bar for corporate sustainability efforts in 2019 by reducing its energy consumption more than 10 million kWh.

According to Bendix, it has set its sights even higher for 2020 with a commitment to realising absolute reductions of energy consumption and fully achieving its zero-waste-to-landfill goal at all Bendix manufacturing locations by the end of the year.

The manufacturer said that sustainability successes during 2019 capitalised on increases in waste diversion and energy efficiency across the Bendix (Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC and Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC) North American facilities. The company continues its focus on both areas in connection with its deep alignment and ongoing support of the United Nations’ (UN) ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These 17 overarching environmental objectives adopted by UN member states promote prosperity while protecting the environment. Two of the objectives – Responsible Consumption and Production (encompassed within SDG 12) and Climate Action (the focus of SDG 13) – are at the core of Bendix’s sustainability efforts.

Maria Gutierrez, director of corporate responsibility and sustainability commented:

“Our employees delivered an unmatched level of commitment to the sustainability goals we set for the business in 2019. Their willingness to embrace change was remarkable.

“From  giving up trash cans at their desks; to active, ongoing engagement in programs and behaviors aimed at reducing single-use plastic and our carbon footprint; to their openness to seek out ways to further improve our energy efficiency, our team members pitched in, enabling Bendix to substantially exceed expectations.

“Seeing the support and momentum grow was a source of pride and accomplishment for all of us.” 

Approaching Zero Waste to Landfill
Bendix edged closer to achieving its zero-waste-to-landfill objective in 2019. Nine out of 10 Bendix manufacturing locations have achieved zero industrial waste to landfill, and in December 2019, three Bendix locations – the Elyria headquarters, and manufacturing locations in Huntington, Indiana, and Bowling Green, Kentucky – made their first trash shipments to waste to energy providers.

The company’s manufacturing campus in Acuña, Mexico, will deliver its first trash waste to energy shipment in the first quarter of 2020.

Also part of the company’s zero-waste effort in 2019 was a more concerted plan to deal with challenging waste streams such as organic waste and single-use plastic. For Elyria, that meant continuing its sitewide composting program, completing the first full year of centralized waste collection, and implementing a Kanban system to restock sustainable food service items in all kitchenettes. These efforts allowed the location to divert an estimated 87 tons (79 tonnes) of compostable material from landfill.

Meanwhile, the Acuña, Mexico, manufacturing campus implemented food waste digesters at three of its plants in late 2019. When fully operational, the digesters are expected to help divert over 100 tons 90.7 tonnes) of organic food waste from landfill per year. This action complemented their recent elimination of Styrofoam products (cups, bowls, and plates) in all their cafeterias, replacing them with reusable food service ware.

Cultural changes across all Bendix sites were said to have significantly contributed to the waste reduction efforts. The company launched a Sustainable Food Service Policy in 2019 to eliminate single-use plastic water bottles, as well as Styrofoam products, from all facilities in 2020.

Efforts initiated by the company’s Green Teams also helped to create awareness and raise participation levels in its sustainability programs. These employee-led teams, charged with identifying or coordinating “green” projects, sponsored a range of other activities during 2019 to help increase awareness both on and off the job.

Programs included installing recycling stations, sponsoring Halloween pumpkin composting and Christmas light recycling programs, and awareness activities to celebrate Earth Day and America Recycles Day. Bendix representatives also contributed to the Manufacturers’ Education Council’s annual Sustainability & EHS Symposium in March with a presentation on the company’s journey to zero waste.

In light of these activities, Bendix was recognised for its comprehensive zero-waste efforts by its parent company, the Munich, Germany-based Knorr-Bremse Group. The honours included earning a KB Responsibility Award at the global giant’s World Meeting and being asked to take the leadership role in the company’s worldwide initiative on Zero Waste.

“Our primary focus in 2019 was taking a creative approach to address some of the more challenging wastes. We did this through the Sustainable Food Service Policy and composting programs. In 2020, we will work to find innovative solutions for the remaining wastes, particularly packaging. Our suppliers and our customers are highly supportive of our sustainability goals, and we look forward to actively partnering with them to help us reach our objectives,” said Gutierrez.

Getting Aggressive on Climate Strategy
Energy reduction was the other major focus area driving Bendix’s sustainability measures in 2019, and the company continued its mission to reduce both energy consumption and CO2 emissions during 2019, in support of SDG 13.

In July 2019, the organisation pledged to join the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Plants Program. By participating, the company is one of more than 200 organizations committed to improving its energy productivity in U.S. facilities by 25% over 10 years.

A related activity was Bendix’s Bowling Green facility receiving ISO 50001 Ready recognition from the U.S. Department of Energy in October 2019. The program recognizes facilities and organizations that establish ISO 50001-based energy management systems.

In line with these programs, Bendix said that it exceeded its goals to reduce energy consumption by 10% from its 2014 baseline, by achieving a 23% reduction over the past five years. With the help of efforts like these, the company has saved more than 10.7 million kilowatt hours of energy – and an estimated $778,000 – over the time frame, through projects focused on more efficient use of lighting, HVAC, and compressed air.

During 2020, Bendix is preparing to support Knorr-Bremse’s new climate strategy, an effort built on science-based targets and the 2016 Paris Agreement. Toward this end, Bendix will need to realize absolute reductions of energy consumption rather than simply reductions in energy intensity.

The company also hopes to be carbon neutral by 2050, with a goal of a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Bendix will do this through continued energy efficiency projects, the use of onsite renewable energy, and by procuring green energy in the market.