Environmental efforts awarded prestigious prize
The efforts of Lumiforte in Échirolles to reduce its environmental impact are standing out. The company has won the prestigious Trophy Responsible Care in the Environmental category. The award was presented last week by the president of the chemical industry association France Chimie Auvergne Rhône-Alpes.
The team is very proud of the Trophy. It is the culmination of an ongoing process: looking critically and creatively at the entire production to reduce the environmental impact by half in all areas.
"We are a young team and we think it is important to take responsibility. Everyone helps to achieve the highest possible result. We are all about concrete results, not 'greenwashing,'" says Michael Reynal, Lumiforte's enthusiastic site manager in Échirolles/Grenoble.
Competition for the awards was fierce, as Auvergne Rhône-Alpes is the leading chemical region in France with many large industries. All the more remarkable that the efforts of a medium-sized company stood out so much. These are in the areas of wastewater, recycling, energy consumption, waste reduction and resource management.
Recycling and less waste
Reynal: "All our coatings are water-based. We recycle the water within our processes to minimize the amount of waste water. Any water we do have to discharge, we clean before it goes into the sewer."
Significant strides have also been made in the area of packaging in the supply of raw materials. "Raw materials in powder form were supplied in paper bags.
That produced a lot of waste. By supplying them in bulk we have managed to reduce that by a third. We have also adapted our processes so that we can return IBC containers for reuse," says the site manager.
The coatings that leave the plant are now in buckets made of recycled plastic. This is what is known as PCR material: Post consumer recycled. In other words: plastic from households. "In this area we are really leading the way," says Reynal.
The progress in reducing energy consumption and therefore CO2 emissions is also remarkable. In the production process it is necessary to heat water. Previously this was done purely with the company's own boiler. "Now we obtain heat from the vapour network of the municipality of Grenoble. This is a great system for using waste heat. Throughout the city there is a network of pipes. Companies that have or produce heat send it through the network to companies that need heat. It's a very efficient way of using energy," he says.
Thus, improvements are being considered in many areas. "But our own production process is only part of the story. Eighty percent of the environmental impact comes from our suppliers. So it matters enormously how you deal with the raw materials," says Reynal.
That's why the raw material streams are scored for their environmental impact. "Where do they come from? Can you buy them locally instead of far away? Are they biodegradable or bio-based? What are the CO2 emissions from the production of these raw materials? What is the impact on nature? Price has long ceased to be the most important criterion in purchasing. These are the environmental impact and, of course, the quality."
These are the first steps on a continuing path to even more environmental friendliness. "The targets are: 50% less wastewater, 50% less waste, 70 tons of CO2 production. And we are going to achieve that," Reynal concludes.