MA: How does your position fit into the overall corporate structure?
CA: I am on the global operations team. This is a good place for my role, because most of the impact that a sustainability professional can have is in this space: buildings, procurement, shipping and manufacturing. At Life Tech, we ship more than 18,000 packages a day and 50 percent of our products are very temperature sensitive. We operate on what one calls a "cold chain." We are the largest shipper of dry ice via FedEx in the United States. We also operate very large walk-in freezers in energy-intensive warehouses. We realized that the Styrofoam and dry ice are just left for our customers as garbage in the end. So now, we're constantly looking at whether we really need to assemble a product in advance, or if we can ship it compact or at room temperature, so we wouldn't have to use gel pack, dry ice or a cooler.
MA: What are your top responsibilities in this role?
CA: Our No. 1 responsibility is to ensure the safety of our employees as well as that of our customers, and that the products we make are used properly and disposed of safely. Environmental protection is also a public safety issue. We don't want pollution escaping our operations because we want a healthy air, land and water. We have a very large responsibility to reduce our operational costs, and this is mainly done through our environmental work. This covers issues like energy, water and waste, as well as our effort to go paperless in all our offices, product manuals and marketing materials.
MA: How have some of your initiatives helped Life Tech save money and improve its bottom line?
CA: We call them "eco-efficiencies: energy, water, waste. Energy is the most profitable resource to reduce. Today, we are 50 percent more energy efficient than we were six years ago. If we hadn't done any of our energy conservation work, instead of having a $20 million energy bill, it would be $40 million. The business case is that simple. It's pretty remarkable how much we have grown while saving so much money. Another area of cost savings has been the reformulation of our products, so they no longer have to be shipped in dry ice in a cooler made of expanded polystyrene, one of the worst materials to use. If you can get a tub of ice cream from the grocery store to your home freezer, then our products also should be able to withstand some nonrefrigerated time before our customers put them into their freezers. One product conversion alone has saved our company $2.1 million in packaging materials and freight, and eliminated 200,000 coolers from circulation each year as a result of our first product reformulations.
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