Kouts steel company launches new eco-friendly program

2012-11-08T19:30:00Z 2012-11-08T20:09:33Z Kouts steel company launches new eco-friendly programBy Phil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

KOUTS | In its ongoing effort to be more environmentally friendly and energy efficient, Merit Steel is participating in the Eco Initiative program launched by its parent company Leggett & Platt.

"Through the Eco Initiative, we will be able to analyze and better understand the environmental impact of our processes, raw materials, finished product and overall inputs and outputs on our community," Merit Plant Manager Jamey Ford said. "We want to go beyond complying with environmental legislation and regulations. We want to become leading supporters in our community and among our manufacturing peers."

Greg Hoagland, with the plant's safety and environmental division, said managers went through the plant looking for areas where they could improve the environmental impact and then rated them on how beneficial each would be. Recycling was rated the highest, and it was backed by the employees, Hoagland said.

"Everyone is on board with it," he said. "We fill up a 4-cubic-yard Dumpster each week."

The company has to pay extra to have its trash hauler take away the paper, plastics, cardboard and other recyclables, but Hoagland said, "It's the right thing to do."

Other steps will be taken in the future that should save the company money, such as switching to more energy-efficient lighting and reducing water consumption.

Hoagland said the company is putting together a slide presentation and binder to show the community what it is doing and will continue to do. Other actions include arranging for employees to go through an Eco Initiative training program to learn more about the company's goals and how they can be part of it.

"There is both a financial and an emotional push for companies to move to the front line when addressing environmental concerns today," Ford said. "Statistics increasingly show that buying decisions are made on the basis of whether products are sound and manufacturers are environmentally credible.

"We took all parties into consideration when we decided to become Eco Initiative certified, from our employees to the end users to the community where we reside," Ford said. "We are committed to improving the health and safety of our employee environment and the community at large."

Merit makes wire that is used in the manufacture of springs used in mattresses and furniture.

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