Reducing Our Impact

At OWC, we believe that everyone has a part to play in working towards environmental sustainability. We look for opportunities in every aspect of our day-to-day operations to save energy and water, improve the working environment, and reduce waste. Across four campuses, OWC has implemented a series of programs to drive sustainability in everything we do.

Recycling

One of our environmental goals at OWC is to reduce the amount of material entering the solid waste stream to zero, and we’re getting close to our goal. At the end of 2016, less than 3.5 percent of OWC waste materials enter into the solid waste stream - meaning 96.5 percent of our waste materials are recycled in some manner.

Starting with an aggressive corrugated box recycling program in 2003, OWC expanded its solid waste recycling program to include all paper, plastic, and aluminum cans. The total of recorded recycled solid waste in 2005 was 32.5 tons. After moving to its new headquarters and warehouse facility in 2008, OWC’s tally of recycled solid waste from 2008 to 2015 reached an impressive total of 287.3 tons - materials that otherwise would have become part of the solid waste stream.

Non-recyclable materials such as food materials from the staff lunchroom go into a solid waste compactor, but only after being monitored to extract any recyclable materials. And a composting program for a new on-site employee garden has further reduced food waste, resulting in a compactor box that only needs to be removed about every 11 months. Imagine having your trash picked up only once a year!

OWC continues to work at bettering its 97 percent solid waste recycling record by only using recyclable plastic and aluminum containers in company vending machines. OWC also takes “green” even further by helping with local fundraising efforts, through donating aluminum cans to a local animal shelter and used printer toner cartridges to local schools.

Recycling Area in Woodstock, IL.

Water Efficiency

As fresh, clean water is increasingly at a global premium, we do everything we can to conserve this precious resource, both inside and outside our buildings. Water management efficiency is a key element in the Woodstock headquarters LEED platinum status.

Inside all our facilities, managing water use and minimizing waste is a major focus. Implementing the most advanced waterless and ultra-efficient fixtures in restrooms and throughout our buildings allows us to conserve thousands of gallons of water, and maintain a world-class work environment. For example, restroom urinals utilize a cartridge to filter out uric acid and let the liquid pass through, saving 4000 flushes per cartridge, or approximately 4000 gallons of water.

Managing our impact on the biosphere is equally important as part of our responsible water use. OWC uses bio-aquifer storm system technology to reduce erosion, maintain clean storm water pathways and beautify the environment around our campus. The parking lot and surrounding areas comprises a highly sophisticated system designed to minimize runoff and channel storm water into a native vegetation “bioswale.” This filters the water and prevents damage to the landscape.

Bio-Aquifer Storm System

1. Native Landscaped Bioswale.Deep-rooted native plants build soil structure and allow optimum water infiltration.

2. Soil Amending. Soils amended with compost and sand assist with water infiltration.

3. Strong Roots.Native plant root structure increases soil organic matter and water retention.

4. Infiltration. Infiltration water helps recharge groundwater and resupplies streams and aquifers gradually with purified water.

5. Concrete Curb. Prevents runoff surges.

6. Paver Units. Hand-tight pavers allow water to easily infiltrate, preventing runoff.

7. 2-inch Bedding. Provides first-stage water filtration and diffusion layer.

8. 4-inch Base. Provides second-stage filtration and diffusion layer.

9. 12-Inch Sub-Base. Provides final-stage filtration and slows flow rate.

10. Perforated Pipe. Diverts water to the bioswale.

Packaging

Throughout our manufacturing and warehouse processes, we are constantly making improvements to minimize waste. Reducing packaging sizes and reusing shipping materials allows us to greatly reduce the amount of waste materials. We selectively use re-marketable pallets and actively recycle plastic shipping and packaging materials.

We conducted a comprehensive review of all of our packaging to identify areas where we could reduce box sizes and discovered a lot of our packaging contained empty space and oversized foam. Our warehousing department tested, tested and tested again to determine the optimum packaging sizes for each of our products to reduce waste and still pass standard drop tests. We also worked with vendors and suppliers to avoid the use of “air bubble” packaging.

At the bottom line, smaller packaging means more efficient warehousing and transport, saving fuel, reducing carbon emissions and packaging waste, and increasing efficiency. It also allows us to pass savings on to our customers, in particular our international customers who often pay shipping on dimensional weight.

Shipping Center in Woodstock, IL.