YAKIMA, Wash.-- A Yakima manufacturing plant took some big steps to improve its carbon footprint. Shields Bag and Printing wrapped up the two year construction project just last month.
Shields sells their products all over the world, but they began in Yakima over 75 years ago. So as company with humble roots in the valley, becoming more energy efficient wasn't just about saving money, but about protecting the community.
Their latest renovations have less to do with their product and more to do with how to reduce their natural gas consumption.
"Any time that we can reduce our usage, then it's going to have a direct effect on number one, the bottom line. And two, our greenhouse gases and carbon footprint," said Derek LaFramboise, Shields' environment health and safety manager.
Shields spent almost a half a million dollars renovating their catalytic oxidizers. Devices used to clean toxic fumes that are a byproduct of manufacturing.
The new system uses heat from the exhaust stacks to reduce the amount of natural gas needed to get the oxidizers up to temperature.
And it's been so successful, they've been able to cut their gas usage by half, saving the company over $100,000 a year, and reducing the amount of toxic gases they let out of their plant every day.
"That's what Shields is focused on right now, is continuing to be competitive in the market, in what we're doing, and also be a leader environmentally," said LaFramboise.
He says they've been able to reduce the amount of particulate matter they release by 30 pounds per year, and the amount of toxic carbon monoxide by more than 200 pounds. Big reductions that make the air around Yakima, a little cleaner.
Shields was also recently recognized by the Washington Industrial Energy Leaders and Governor Christine Gregoire's office for their work. They received the first ever Utility Sponsor's Award for leadership in innovation.