Throughout the winter and into the spring of 2011, three Wilfrid Laurier University students – Mara Silvestri, Sarah Morgan and Jennifer Carreiro teamed up with Sustainable Waterloo Region to profile three members of the Regional Carbon Initiative for Sustainable Waterloo Region’s 2nd Annual Evening of Recognition. As part of a class project, the group visited the sites of Pano Cap Canada, Enermodal Engineering and the City of Waterloo to highlight some of the initiatives each organization has undertaken to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The group is happily sharing their experiences with Sustainable Waterloo Region to draw attention to the measures being taken by organizations across Waterloo Region to increase the environmental sustainability of our community.
Our first of three stops during our day of eco-friendly tours was at Pano Cap Canada, one of the Region’s manufacturers of injection molded plastic cap and container closures. The company supplies its products to the following industries: food and beverage, chemical-industrial, health supplement, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, personal care and cosmetic industries. Having worked with Sustainable Waterloo Region for a number of years, PanoCap has been an active member of the Regional Carbon Initiative (RCI) that Sustainable Waterloo Region conducts, which facilitates voluntary target-setting and reductions of carbon emissions by organizations across Waterloo Region.
As one of Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Bronze Pledging Partners, PanoCap has committed to a 20% absolute Green House Gas (GHG) reduction over 10 years. This past year alone, PanoCap has made a 5% reduction in its emissions, despite the fact that it has increased its production schedule from 24hrs/5 days a week to 24hrs/7 days a week., and this ecological mindset is becoming embedded in all projects that Pano Cap is undertaking within its facilities. During the three interviews we conducted with Pano Cap employees, we were informed of some of the initiatives undertaken by PanoCap to help reach the company’s goals. These initiatives include:
- The purchase of three electric molding machines to replace conventional hydraulic machines
- A waste-to-energy initiative, which diverts waste from the landfill to energy production. The company also diverted 596 kg of e-waste from landfills through an employee collection program
- Participating in Kitchener’s 20-Minute cleanup and collected 40kg of garbage from the streets
- Employee commuting
- Future sustainability initiatives include pursuing the implementation of a 130 kWh solar energy system in 2011. Pano Cap will also continue to replace all hydraulic molding machines with electric molding machines
These initiatives were not always second-hand to Pano Cap’s philosophy to become environmentally friendly, the process involved overcoming obstacles in order to make these changes. As a manufacturing company, it was echoed in a number of our interviews that being consumption-based was the largest obstacle. Other obstacles included how to measure their consumption amongst a number of hidden costs. Jim Sinclair, Pano Cap’s Operations Manager tells us that these particular challenges were overcome with the services that Sustainable Waterloo Region offers: “If you want to make improvements, you have to know where you are at. Our biggest adversary is the work we completed on our carbon footprint analysis. It is easy now to use our carbon tool with Sustainable Waterloo Region to do our inputs and track our project activities through that software as well”. In this, advice for other organizations looking to reduce their emissions was given as knowing one’s carbon footprint will allow for improvements.
Pano Cap has also come to understand the importance of reducing GHG emissions while becoming a leader in the Region striving to promote environmental consciousness. John Reckers, Pano Cap’s controller has insightful advice for company’s looking to undertake similar green initiatives of their own, despite what industry they are in, asserting that if other organizations “did an in depth analysis and looked further past the capital investment to see long-term benefit they would be more open to it”. As a testament to Recker’s advice to look past the initial investment, Pano Cap has incurred savings of $17,000 annually as a result of installing new T8 fluorescent lighting, as stated in Sustainable Waterloo Region’s 2010 Report.
It is not only through collaboration with Sustainable Waterloo Region and other companies that keeps Pano Cap accountable to their goals, but it is an active part of their employees’ day-to-day actions to be mindful of these methodologies. By making “green” a self-sustaining part of everyone’s daily lives, this process can continue to flourish, and expand beyond the walls of the office.
For Pano Cap, being “green” is a lifestyle that is benefitting the entire community, and as Hines tells us, “we are part of a larger community so we have to do our bit to make the community better moving forward.” Minimizing one’s impact on the environment is a necessary response to the contemporary reality that our globe cannot continue to sustain itself in the wake of mass consumption, and we must exercise our human agency in order to start climbing the metaphorical “green” ladder like Pano Cap has, and sustain our world.