Local companies talk going green

IUS Horizon

On Wednesday, March 11, three district managers from different companies in Southern Indiana gathered on the top floor of the IUS Library to explain what their companies are doing to help the environment.

Scott DeVries, plant manager for the Pepsi plant in Austin, Indiana, said his plant uses 34 thousand gallons of water an hour and 20 semi loads of liquid sugar.  He said 90 percent of all materials at the plant are recycled, with less material going to landfills. He said Pepsi also saves money by making its own bottles.

At one point, all of Pepsi’s bottles came pre-made.  It now orders the plastic and uses the machines in its factories to blow the bottles into their shape.

Kevin Hammersmith, manager of business relations for Duke Energy, was the second to speak.  Hammersmith spoke briefly about how swapping light bulbs in American homes would help save energy.

He said installing one compact florescent light in each home would save $600 million in energy costs each year in America.  It also reduces energy and heat by 75 percent, and would save 400 pounds of greenhouse gases a year.  Hammersmith also said Duke Energy is trying to work with Wal-Mart to help install energy-saving light bulbs in stores.

Randy Koetter, the owner of Koetter Woodworking, was the last to speak.  Koetter explained what his company does with all of the various materials left after cutting down trees and processing them.

Koetter said that his company cuts down trees every five years.  Doing so allows a little time for growth and keeps the trees within the Doyle footage that allows trees to produce the most oxygen.

As the trees are processed for wood working, the materials are recycled back into various things.  The bark left after debarking is put into landscaping.  Sawdust left over from sawing the logs is used to heat two-thirds of the plant. Round pieces from edges make paper, shavings go into animal bedding and knots are used for playground areas.

After each person was done speaking, the floor was opened up for free questions.

Pepsi was asked if they’re trying to attempt in-house recycling.  DeVreis said certain factories even accept bottles and cans to be recycled from customers.  Also, certain customers demand results for the environment such as Wal-Mart, which conducts annual checks to make sure progress is made.

Duke was asked about how the company is trying to help customers cut back on how much energy is used. 

“Yeah we’re getting people to cut back on energy usage, and it’s like paying people not to drink Pepsi but it
[entails that we go out] and build things to limit energy usage.” Hammersmith said.

Hammersmith was also asked about any wind and hydro energy.  He talked about the pros and cons of wind energy.  He said while it does save energy and help reduce pollutants, it’s very expensive and hard to maintain.

He said repairs on windmill towers can take up to a day or more for one.  Also, he said mill blades are not currently made in the US and there is an order can take as long as five years to process.

Hammersmith said using hydroelectric also has its various drawbacks.  He said to turn on hydroelectric power machines, there has to be a certain water level, along with amount of water in the area.  Hydroelectric is also difficult to implement in several areas for obvious reasons.

Hammersmith also pointed out Duke is trying to figure out ways to implement LED lights into street lamps.   He said the current problem with LEDs is that the proper way for them to work as street lamps require the lamps to be overdriven, dropping the lifespan.

Koetter was also asked about his company catalog that was passed around.  The catalog showed various pieces of furniture the company makes and sells.  Koetter said all of the primer, finish and paints are applied by another company owned in Charlestown.

Each person explained the recycling programs that the company hosts.  Pepsi Cola sends people to speak at various schools along with offering classes.  Koetter also travels to schools and allows touring of its various plants.  Duke sends out newsletters about its programs.

The night ended with students being allowed to talk to each company manager about their respective companies. 
“I thought it was interesting to see how three different companies handle recycling and the environment.” Stephen Duff, Major at Purdue is the OLS program, said.

Staff writer