Cascade Is Still A Clean Citizen

September 22, 2003
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CASCADE — Cascade Engineering's Acoustics Group received a Clean Corporate Citizen Award recently from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) for integrating environmental efforts with daily business operations.

The Clean Corporate Citizen Award (C3) program recognizes environmental stewardship and sound environmental performance.

The company's Acoustics Group was awarded C3 designation June 1, and an awards ceremony was held at corporate headquarters Sept. 12.

The Acoustics Group designs and manufactures plastic injection molded products and components for the automotive industry. It is certified to ISO 14001 environmental standard.

The Acoustics Group is the fourth of Cascade Engineering's 12 plants to receive the designation, which must be renewed annually.

This year the plant has committed to reduce the amount of spent aerosol and propane containers, as well as the amount of cardboard sent to landfillsl.

The Acoustics Group also voluntarily installed structural controls to reduce the potential for contaminants in water runoff and waste drains, according to the company.

"Our approach to running clean, efficient plants isn't just good for the environment — it's also good business and has helped Cascade Engineering become a cost-competitive supplier to the automotive, furniture and industrial markets," stated Mike Valz, president of Cascade Engineering.

"We continue to learn a great deal about sustainability and the results Cascade can achieve, not only in the ecological arena, but the financial and social aspects of sustainability, as well."

Clean Corporate Citizens are eligible for specific regulatory benefits under the state's environmental programs, including quicker approvals for air quality, surface water quality, ground water quality and storage tank quality, said Kelie Bond, an MDEQ environmental quality specialist.

"The main driver behind the whole program is really a public relations focus," she pointed out. A lot of companies have experienced better business cooperation and recognition through the program."

The program has been operating since 1996, and to date, 75 Michigan companies have been awarded the designation.

Although other states have similar programs, she said Michigan's C3 program leads the nation in terms of participants.

Clean Corporate Citizen designation is not easy to achieve, Bond added.

"It means they really looked and worked at the environmental requirements and how they touched the environment.

"If somebody is a Clean Corporate Citizen, that's recognized as having value."

The program is open to any facility regulated under any Michigan environmental statute.

To qualify for C3 status, companies must adopt an environmental management system and a pollution prevention program, and maintain a consistent record of compliance with environmental requirements.

The environmental management system is probably the biggest commitment, Bond said.

"It's an organizational tool that companies use in every day business operations to define everything."

She explained that putting the system in place can be expensive, but companies that take the time and expense to do so find that there's about an 18-month payback on that investment.

Other West Michigan companies with Clean Corporate Citizen certification include Baker Furniture, in Holland, Knoll Inc.Grand Rapids Manufacturing, Delphi-E Grand Rapids, DeWitt Barrels, and ADAC Automotive Trim, all in the Grand Rapids metro area, and Denso Manufacturing Corp. in Battle Creek.

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