Reflecting on Earth Day and the Environment

Plumbing products manufacturer recycles 20.3 million pounds of waste materials each year.
Reflecting on Earth Day and the Environment
Mansfield Plumbing Products, which makes more than a million toilets a year, ensures its waste doesn't end up in landfills. The company recycles 20 million pounds of fired scrap and spent plaster molds, 330,000 pounds of cardboard and cartons, 8,900 pounds of paper, 3,000 pounds of plastic and 6,000 wooden pallets.

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When you hand-make more than a million toilets each year, you end up with a lot of scrap that can be recycled. At Mansfield Plumbing, the quantity of recycled materials is impressive. Ten million pounds of fired scrap, 10 million pounds of spent plaster molds, 330,000 pounds of cardboard and cartons, 8,900 pounds of paper, 3,000 pounds of plastic and 6,000 wooden pallets.

“Earth Day is a good time to share the significant steps we take to ensure that our 24/7 manufacturing operation reuses and recycles as much as possible,” says Ed Tinoco, P.E., environmental engineer at Mansfield Plumbing in Perrysville, Ohio. “We recycle 100 percent of our fired scrap and spent plaster mold material, which is about 10,000 tons of material each year. Instead of going into landfills, this material is used as road aggregate that actually leads up to landfill areas.”

In addition to the massive amount of waste materials, the company recycles 330,000 pounds each year of cardboard and cartons that are sorted, cleaned and sold to paper mills that use the reprocessed material by manufacturing it into a variety of paper products. Six thousand unusable wooden pallets are either refurbished or made into mulch material. And 3,000 pounds of plastic, 8,900 pounds of paper and 520 pounds of aluminum cans are also recycled yearly. Finally, the company has initiated a water conservation program designed to reduce water usage by 10 to 30 percent at its manufacturing facility.

“Our efforts don’t stop with just the hard materials you can physically see in our plant,” Tinoco says. “We actually recycle energy. Waste heat from our kilns is recovered and used in both the drying process of our sanitaryware and to heat our water for factory operations.

“Additionally, we’ve reduced the natural gas needed to operate our plant. We estimate our gas consumption to be about 10 percent below the industry standard on a per pound measurement. We also undertook a lighting project in 2008 that has helped us save about 50 percent of the energy over our previous lighting system.”

Tinoco says recycling and reuse efforts at the company are second-nature to employees.

“Mansfield Plumbing has created a mindset that makes it routine for our team members to actively support environmental initiatives,” he says. “We have operational excellence guidelines developed that fully support our daily goal of maximizing energy reuse and reclaiming efforts.

“When I leave the plant at the end of the day, I have a good feeling about what our team has accomplished ... and it’s rewarding to know that our facility is making a difference in our environment.”

A look back:

First celebrated on April 22, 1970, Earth Day was founded by the late Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin. Witnessing the effects of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, and inspired by the student anti-war movement at the time, Nelson believed that if he could combine that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.

Proposed as a “national teach-in on the environment,” Nelson persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservative Republican representative, to serve as co-chair for the event, and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard to serve as national coordinator.

April 22 was chosen as the date because it fell between spring break and final exams.

The first Earth Day brought out 20 million Americans in demonstrations for a healthy, sustainable environment.

Achieving a rare political alignment, Earth Day gained support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban and rural, corporate executives and labor leaders. By the end of the first year, Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

“It was a gamble,” Nelson said. “But it worked.”

In 1990, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries, giving momentum to recycling efforts worldwide.

This year’s Earth Day is expected to bring together over 1 billion people in 192 countries in an ongoing effort to plant 7.8 billion trees – one for every person on Earth by 2020, Earth Day’s 50th anniversary.

Pope Francis reflects on the environment:


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