SVH Continues Pre-EPA Mission

January 7, 2005
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HOLLAND — Steketee Van Huis (SVH) has been promoting the three R’s — reduce, reuse and recycle — since 1965, long before it became socially and politically correct to support environmentally friendly business practices.

The printing and packaging company, founded in the early 1920s, embarked on a mission 40 years ago to recycle all of its excess waste, water and scrap paper used in the printing process.

The firm uses a vacuum bailing system that automatically compacts the materials and prepares them for recycling.

But it didn’t stop there.

SVH followed that initiative with the recycling of metal press plates, beginning in 1970, and the recycling of ink, beginning in 1990, said Scott Volkert, SVH’s director of sales and marketing.

“We produce a lot of waste that can be recycled and there’s a monetary benefit to doing it, so it’s kind of a win-win type of thing,” Volkert remarked. “Fortunately, we’ve had a good relationship with the people that actually do the recycling. We do get some monetary benefit out of it, but we’ve invested a lot of money internally to make it possible to recycle.” 

Another Holland-based company that has long shared a commitment to recycling valuable resources — Louis Padnos Iron & Metal Co. — has assisted SVH in its “Triple-R” mission for the past 30 years. The 100-year-old company, which is a scrap processor and broker of scrap iron, steel, non-ferrous metals and secondary fibers, estimates it picks up an average of 150 tons of scrap paper and cardboard a month from SVH for recycling. 

“SVH is an example of a company that is doing a great job of protecting the environment,” said Doug Padnos, manager of Louis Padnos Iron & Metal Co.’s secondary fiber division. He pointed out that SVH captures nearly 100 percent of its recyclable scrap paper today. 

By the Padnos company’s calculations, SVH’s recycling efforts kept more than 13,000 cubic yards of paper products out of landfills in 2004 alone, about the same amount it would take to fill 1,300 standard-sized dump trucks. Padnos further estimates that SVH’s recycling initiatives saved more than 73,600 trees from being cut down last year. 

Besides scrap paper, the Padnos company figures SVH kept more than 260,000 pounds of pollution effluents from being released into the atmosphere and recycled more than 30.3 million gallons of water in 2004. 

Those statistics were compiled from January through October last year, Volkert pointed out, so the final two months of 2004 aren’t figured in.

“A lot of printers do recycle but not to the extent we do,” he added. “We look at it as our way of helping the community and the environment as a whole.”

SVH is participating in the Michigan Great Printers Project, a project of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality that promotes pollution prevention strategies and offers technical assistance towards that end.

According to MDEQ, lithographic printers in the Great Lakes region employ more than 340,000 people and add $35.4 billion in gross sales to the region’s eight states. The agency further notes that one-third of the national printing industry is concentrated in the Great Lakes region, of which more than 80 percent are small businesses employing fewer than 20 people.

In order to become a “Great Printer” under the Michigan project’s guidelines, participating businesses pledge to:

  • comply with current environmental regulations.

  • establish a written environmental policy for their business.

  • implement three pollution prevention goals biennially.

  • report on goals accomplished.

  • participate in technology transfer by sharing experiences and successes with other “Great Printers.”    

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