Utah Firms Find Being Environmentally Conscious Is Good Business

Some of the Top of Utah's largest employers are discovering that reducing their environmental impact is also helping their bottom lines.

OGDEN, Utah — Some of the Top of Utah's largest employers are discovering that reducing their environmental impact is also helping their bottom lines.

Autoliv North America, La-Z-Boy Utah and the Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base were all recently recognized by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality for their pollution prevention and reduction efforts during the past year.

Pollution reduction is a term that some industries cringe at, since it can mean investment in expensive new technology. But in many cases, businesses realize significant monetary savings in addition to the environmental benefits of cutting back on waste, whether it be from savings in materials or increased operational efficiency.

"We've been able to cut back on waste without spending a dime, just by constantly looking for waste in our everyday operations," said Leonard Barton, an environmental engineer with Autoliv. "It's always important to show the cost savings, because that's the language everyone speaks."

Autoliv, which has more than 4,000 employees at six Top of Utah plants, last year began a recycling program at its main airbag production facility in Ogden for scrap fabric from the airbag cushions the company produces.

Autoliv estimates the program keeps an average of 16,200 pounds of fabric per month out of landfills. It also has saved the company more than $715,000 in material costs since implementation, said Bekah Moore, Autoliv packaging coordinator.

The Ogden ALC at Hill was recognized for switching to a new, nonhazardous cleaning solvent, a move that has saved the aircraft-maintenance operation about $30,000 in the past year.

The La-Z-Boy plant in Tremonton, the other Top of Utah facility to receive an award, has reduced energy use at the plant by 41 percent in the past year, resulting in thousands of dollars in savings. The plant has also implemented new technology and practices that have reduced its air emissions by 67 percent.

The companies recognized last week have been noted for environmental efforts before. Autoliv and La-Z-Boy are two of just four companies to be accepted into the new Clean Utah program, started earlier this year to recognize companies that take steps to reduce pollution beyond state and federal requirements.

"Their willingness to implement pollution prevention, as well as energy and natural resource conservation programs, demonstrates their leadership as responsible employers and good corporate neighbors," said Bill Sinclair, DEQ deputy director.

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Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News