Ceramic Industry

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Striving for the "Green"

May 1, 2004
Lighting manufacturer OSRAM SYLVANIA has furthered its environmental commitment with multi-site ISO 14001 certification

As most of us in the manufacturing world know, ISO 14001 is considered the "ultimate" international standard in environmental management. Patterned after the ISO 9000 set of quality standards and finalized in 1996, ISO 14001 provides a framework for a business entity to conduct its operations in a manner that is protective of the environment and the health and safety of its employees, its customers, and the public. The standard was established by the Netherlands-based Organization de Standards International and provides a process for companies to identify and minimize operational risk, reduce energy and other resource consumption, and reduce operation costs as greater efficiencies are achieved.

As of December 2002, almost 50,000 certificates had been issued worldwide by independent, third-party registrar companies attesting to individual facility conformance with the standard. Surprisingly, only 8% of those certified companies were based in North America. However, for an increasing number of companies doing business globally, or doing business with governmental agencies or other businesses that are already certified to ISO 14001, conformance with ISO 14001 is becoming a contractual requirement. It is also expected that ISO 14001 might someday become a requirement for companies to attain ISO 9001 re-certification. Thus, an increasing number of companies are setting goals to establish environmental management systems that conform to ISO 14001 criteria in order to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

It was for these reasons that North American lighting manufacturer OSRAM SYLVANIA elected to pursue ISO 14001 certification. Although the effort was initiated, developed and managed at a facility level, the company took the big step to achieve multi-site certification in the fall of 2003-a "first" within the lighting industry.

Plant-Level Certification

For OSRAM SYLVANIA, achieving certification at the individual plant level and gaining corporate-wide conformance took place over a five-year period. Teams at each facility sought to identify "high risk" environmental liabilities and costs, including hazardous waste disposal, chemical air emissions, water and energy consumption and waste disposal. The teams then worked diligently on an ongoing basis to manage and reduce, and in some cases, eliminate these liabilities and costs.

Because all of the company's 19 manufacturing facilities and corporate headquarters are unique in their charter, as well as their particular environmental impacts and orientations within their respective communities and jurisdictions, they each were challenged by their own set of environmental issues (see Table 1). Generally speaking, however, each site focused on the following areas:

  • Significant environmental aspects. Each environmental management team identified those areas posing risk to the environment.
  • Plant objectives, targets and programs. The teams also prioritized facility impacts and risks, defined objectives, and developed environmental programs to manage progress to reduce or eliminate risks and liabilities.
  • Registration auditing. Registration Accreditation Board (RAB)-approved, independent third-party auditing firms were brought in to verify each facility's conformance to the standard.

As each facility made a commitment to improve its environmental performance by obtaining ISO 14001 certification, OSRAM SYLVANIA began to realize numerous cost and process improvement benefits (see sidebar: "Good for the Environment-and the Bottom Line").

Multi-Site Certification

Consolidating environmental management system (EMS) efforts required centralizing documentation so that a third-party auditor could effectively and efficiently review the company's programs and progress. The company created a Lotus Notes-based platform that enabled facility environmental managers to record their inputs and share best practices with other locations. In addition to focusing on significant environmental aspects, plant objectives, targets and programs, and audit results, the company also included:
  • Nonconformance reports. System areas that were deficient were analyzed, and programs were refined for improvement.
  • Senior management reviews. Pivotal to the success of the corporate EMS was having senior management committed and actively involved in the process.

By way of the ISO 14001 enterprise certification, OSRAM SYLVANIA seeks to maximize overall company environmental management and performance integrity, consistency and efficiency. Since establishing its corporate program in 2003, in FY2004 the company has established waste minimization and natural resources use reduction goals for its operations. Over the year, the company will monitor site progress toward achievement of these goals, as well as location data relating to environmental risks and site-specific environmental objectives, audit results, identified nonconformances and management reviews. More importantly, lessons learned will be shared throughout the enterprise.

In addition to the EMS and environmental performance benefits the company expects to achieve, substantial cost savings are also projected. According to Geoffrey Hunt, senior vice president, human resources and communications, "We worked very hard to make all of our facilities, including headquarters, and our products, as environmentally friendly as possible. Earning the ISO 14001 certification motivates us to continue our work in this arena and inspire other corporations to do the same."

Editor's note: Headquartered in Danvers, Mass., OSRAM SYLVANIA is the North American subsidiary of OSRAM GmbH. For more information, call (800) LIGHTBULB or visit http://www.sylvania.com .

SIDEBAR: Good for the Environment-and the Bottom Line

With 19 manufacturing locations and 11,000 employees in North America, OSRAM SYLVANIA has identified a number of benefits flowing from the consolidation of its environmental management systems under ISO 14001 certification. Following is a sampling of the results achieved by some of the manufacturing facilities.

Towanda, Pa.: Reducing Nitrate Emissions in Susquehanna River

At the OSRAM SYLVANIA Precision Materials and Components division, a key objective was to reduce the amount of nitric acid it uses in creating a super-hard and durable molybdenum coating material that is resistant to corrosion, erosion, chemicals and high temperatures and is used in a wide range of applications. Traditionally, the company had released allowable levels of nitrates into the Susquehanna River, which ultimately flows into Chesapeake Bay; however, nitrates promote the growth of algae, which deplete the amount of oxygen in the water and can cause fish to die. This program cut nitric acid usage by one million lbs/year and had an associated savings of about $80,000. The initiative resulted in OSRAM SYLVANIA receiving the "Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence" and the Business for the Bay's "Outstanding Achievement Award" in 2002.

Thanks to an aggressive EMS under ISO 14001, Towanda engineers are working on a second phase of the program to eliminate the nitrates precipitated in the processing of calcium fluoride used in the synthesis of phosphors for lighting. The division expects the second phase to cut its nitrate releases by approximately 500,000 lbs/year, with an additional savings of nearly $150,000.

Versailles, Ky.: Reducing Mercury Emissions in Fluorescent Lighting

All energy-efficient fluorescent lighting today includes a minuscule amount of mercury, a heavy metal that can potentially build up in the environment if not properly disposed of. OSRAM SYLVANIA engineers have reduced the amount of mercury used in the company's lamps over the last 10 years; today's lamps contain 80% less than lamps produced in the early '90s. By "amalgamating" the mercury used in discrete doses, company R&D scientists hope to reduce mercury levels by another 60% or more. Through this initiative, the company also expects to save about $500,000.

Hillsboro, N.H.: Conserving Water and Eliminating Heavy Metals

In the mid-'90s, the plant, which is the worldwide headquarters for OSRAM and SYLVANIA automotive lighting, consumed an average of 175,000 gallons of water per day. Recent conservation efforts focused on maximizing the use of closed-loop cooling for lasers and other equipment, and also included reusing treated groundwater, installing low-flow showerheads and faucets, and careful monitoring of daily consumption. Today, the facility's daily water use is 10,000 gallons-a 94% reduction. The water that is now saved in one day is enough to fill the water needs of a family of four for over two years. The plant's estimated cost savings are about $150,000/year.

Hillsboro R&D engineers are also testing ways to eliminate the hazardous materials used in the production of brake, signal and other lamp types that currently contain small amounts of lead, cadmium and chromium. When fully implemented, these programs could result in the elimination of over 500,000 pounds of heavy metals that would have otherwise been released to the environment each year.

Bangor, Maine: Eliminating Hard Chemical Cleaners and Lubricants

For the Bangor plant, which produces lead wires for lighting products, replacing hard chemical cleaners with a fully automated aqueous cleaning system and recycling 100% of the methanol used as a lubricants resulted in the plant receiving two prestigious Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence.

Central Falls, R.I.: Toxic Materials "Substituted Out" of Hot Lamp Manufacture

For decades, lead and arsenic were used in the manufacture of borosilicate glass that is used in high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting applications, in which hot lamps are exposed to outdoor conditions for a decade or more. Since 1998, the plant has substituted salt compounds, completely eliminating the toxic materials. The facility has also lowered its chemical costs by nearly $187,000 by reducing chemicals used in the glass frosting and chemical neutralization process.