Zeeland Farms Services Goes Green

October 6, 2006
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ZEELAND — Zeeland Farm Services has made a commitment to be environmentally friendly, both in the products it sells and in the way the business is run.

“It shows that we place high importance on the environment,” said Cliff Meeuwsen, company president. “It also shows that we’re concerned about the well-being of our customers and the people in our community.”

Zeeland Farm Services is a family-owned company that has provided services to the agricultural and transportation industries since 1950.

Meeuwsen said that using methane gas captured from the Autumn Hills landfill has allowed the company to control operational costs while also promoting the productive use of renewable energy. The ZFS landfill gas pipeline is used to power the boilers and engine at its soybean plant.

He added that, while the company is saving money, the system is not without its challenges.

“There are some operating issues that take more downtime, and maintenance of equipment is greater,” he said. “Operating costs do go up.”

Meeuwsen said the transition process itself was a challenge.

“With the landfill gas and engine project, it was a challenge to switch and set up our operations to operate on green power,” he said. “It also required large capital investments up front.”

Throughout the process, Zeeland Farm Services had help from North American Natural Resources, Waste Management, government agencies and many land owners along the pipeline.

“We also had some very good people in planning and construction,” Meeuwsen said.

How much the company saves depends on the cost of natural gas, Meeuwsen said.

“If it’s relatively cheap, as it is now, then with increased operating costs, the savings are small,” he said, referring to the current cost of natural gas at $6 per unit or less. “But when gas gets very high as it did last winter, the savings are greater.”

There are several benefits to using gas from the landfill as an energy source, Meeuwsen said.

“By having the pipeline, we can capture methane gas that was being burned in the air and wasted,” he said. “Our soybean plant requires large amounts of electricity, so we use the renewable landfill gas in our boilers to produce steam and to fire a reciprocating engine that produces electricity.”

Using the renewable energy source is not the only way Zeeland Farm Services is being environmentally responsible. The company also has built its new office to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design requirements.

“It achieved silver certification and will meet gold certification once we’re fully operating off landfill gas,” he said.

ZFS also distributes soy biodiesel fuel and uses it to operate its fleet of trucks.

“Biodiesel is much more environmentally friendly than petroleum and can lessen our country’s growing dependence on imported oil,” he said.

He said the decision to be an environmentally conscious company has shown the firm’s commitment to the community and the environment.

“By having strong conservation values, we show how strong our compassion is for the environment, our customers and our community. It shows we’re more than just a business and makes us stand out. Conservation values are also becoming the way of the future for businesses. The future jobs in America will belong to efficient, environmentally courteous people,” he said.

“Our company is about bringing products and services to our customers that are healthy for them to use and produced in an environmentally friendly atmosphere, both in processing and transportation.”     

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