Waupaca Foundry was recently accepted into Wisconsin’s Green Tier program.
Administered by the Department of Natural Resources, the Green Tier program recognizes businesses that meet environmental regulatory standards and work toward sustainability.
The foundry also earned the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Engineering Excellence Award at both the state and national levels.
The foundry’s program to re-use the sand it would normally send to its landfill are among the reasons cited for the ACEC awards.
Foundries have long been recognized among the original recyclers because unwanted scrap iron is re-used in the process for producing iron castings.
In recent years, Waupaca Foundry has been implementing a plan to achieve sustainable growth by the year 2020.
Those goals include reducing energy use by 25 percent, installing state-of-the-art pollution control technologies, reducing spent foundry sand by 30 percent, and reducing water use by 80 percent.
According to Waupaca Foundry President and CEO Gary Gigante, sustainability is central to ductile iron and gray iron casting operations.
“Being environmentally responsible is not only the right thing to do, it’s the best thing to do for our employees and our customers,” Gigante said. “Pollution control and recycling ensures a healthy environment for our team members and creating a sustainable manufacturing process controls cost for our customers.”
The company employs a corporate environmental manager and environmental staff at each of its six foundries. These teams are charged with measuring and monitoring the foundry’s impact on the environment in order to meet regulatory requirements.
“We have exceeded minimum regulatory requirements for years,” said Bryant Esch, environmental coordinator. “Our environmental controls are considered the best available in the industry and in many cases we have installed elective pollution control technologies years before they were required.”
For each year it was enrolled, Waupaca Foundry has received a commendation from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings, Better Plants Program, most recently in 2013. I
n this program, companies voluntarily make energy efficiency a business goal, establish energy management plans and commit to reduce the energy intensity of manufacturing operations by 25 percent over 10 years.
Specific sustainability initiatives include:
Approximately 70 percent of foundry sand byproducts that can no longer be used in metalcasting are cleaned and reused in local projects including road and general construction, agriculture and geotechnical fill. The firm has been recycling foundry sand and related materials for more than two decades.
Closed-loop cooling water systems have reduced plant water cooling demands by 80 percent or more when all are on-line. In some cases, non-contact cooling water discharges are reduced to near zero and daily water use is drastically reduced.
The company began retrofitting plants with sophisticated air pollution controls beginning in 1999. Both air emission controls and leak detection technology have surpassed regulatory requirements and created new industry benchmarks in pollution control.
In order to earn a Green Tier designation, companies must be ISO 14001 certified, must pro-actively maintain environmental standards, must agree to submit an annual environmental report, and be audited by the DNR. Waupaca Foundry officially received the designation on March 2.
The engineering awards were earned based on a program designed to reuse spent foundry sands and slag byproducts of the metalcasting process. Waupaca Foundry recycles 800,000 tons of sand used annually, but eventually it can no longer be re-used. Rather than sending these byproducts to a landfill, Waupaca Foundry repurposed the materials to create a clean, non-toxic product that can be used in a variety of applications and industries.
During a three-year study conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Waupaca Foundry, this material was tested as a replacement for clay soils used to construct low permeability barriers in landfills. As a result, select foundry sand byproducts were approved as a suitable alternative barrier layer in landfill liner construction on May 5, 2014.
As a result Waupaca Foundry will reduce landfill construction costs, extend the life of their landfill, reduce the landfill’s environmental impact and improve the sustainability of its operations.
More than 75 percent of the sand byproducts generated from Waupaca Foundry processes are now being incorporated into a multitude of beneficial reuse projects in lieu of landfill disposal.
Examples of such uses include geotechnical fill, road construction, mine reclamations, agricultural projects, cement manufacturing, concrete products, commercial blasting media and asphalt.
Owned by Hitachi Metals, Waupaca Foundry is the largest iron casting foundry in the world.