Plastic Ingenuity has become something of a pioneer in Wisconsin’s energy industry by producing some of the electricity it uses directly from the sun.
In our quest to be an environmentally friendly packaging company, we have installed 50 200-watt photovoltaic solar panels on our Cross Plains, WI roof top to produce some of our electricity from the sun.
Our goal is to produce 10 percent of our electricity from renewable sources in five years, and the photovoltaic cells are merely a first step. These solar panels will produce about 13,262 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. Producing that amount of energy traditionally would dump 29,176 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
We recently replaced all of our HID and T12 lighting fixtures in our Cross Plains facility with more energy efficient T8 fixtures. In addition, occupancy sensors were added in the warehouse that keep the lights on for 12 minutes and turn off when not occupied. The combination of these two efforts has reduced energy consumption in the lighting system by 66%.
In addition to these measures, we are reclaiming the heat we use in our manufacturing processes. In the thermoforming process, compressors and vacuum pumps are utilized for process air. These units produce a lot of heat. We have engineered a system to capture the heat from this process and utilize it to heat our warehouse during the winter months, reducing our natural gas usage and capturing a potentially wasted heat source.
We know that these measures are only the initial steps to becoming an environmentally friendly packaging company. We will continue to look for new ways to preserve our environment and provide cutting edge solutions for our customers. Read more about our green packaging solutions:
Recycling and Reuse Programs
A significant number of items are recycling or reused at Plastic Ingenuity: aerosol cans, aluminum, antifreeze, scrap plastic, scrap PVC banding, batteries, corrugated, skids, used oils, stretch-wrap, office paper, and scrap steel are just a few examples of some of the items recycled or reused.
We recycle 100% of recyclable products. We have been converting this over for the last number of years. As a result, we have reduced our land fill contributions by over 500%; now the only thing that goes into a dumpster are items that are truly waste. The most significant is the closed-loop extrusion and production scrap reprocessing that has resulted in little-to-no land filling of waste plastics.
Our ability to recycle plastic scrap (internal plastic process scrap) back into the process is not only good for the environment, by not using virgin resin in all packages, but it is also good for our customer’s pocket books. The ability to co-extrude multiple layer plastic sheets has allowed our customers in non-critical packaging markets to sandwich recycled process scrap between two layers of virgin plastic.
For example, a 30 mil structure may contain a center core of 15 mil recycled process scrap and the two outside layers are both 7.5 mil virgin resin. This results in a 50% reduction in virgin plastic usage, while providing a package that has virgin material on all product contact surfaces. This is a win-win for the environment and our customers. Ultimately, we reduce the overall cost of the thermoformed package all while reducing the utilization of virgin resin. The end result—a greener package.
In the thermoforming process, we utilize water to cool the molds that run inside our thermoformers. In the past, this water was delivered to our facility through the municipal water system.
On a monthly basis, we used 250,000 gallons of water in our process. It was pumped through all of our thermoformers, to the mold and then down the drain. In an effort to reduce the water consumption, we installed a closed-loop cooling tower. Now, we use no water from the city for our thermoforming process water. All of the water used to cool the molds in our thermoformers is captured in a closed-loop chilling tower and recycled in-house.
Our facility in Cross Plains is located within 100 feet of a world-class trout stream.
Major changes in temperature can cause a negative impact on the fish habitat within that stream. We have developed three rain gardens to reduce the effects of storm water run-off that might impact the stream. Water is captured by these gardens and utilized by the plant life within the garden reducing the amount of water that would have previously run directly into the storm water system and then been dumped in the trout stream. Our goal is that all storm water run-off on our facility be captured by a secondary system and never enter the creek through the municipal storm water system. These rain gardens have made a tremendous impact towards that effort.