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Organizational Change
Water Wins:
When Sustainability Becomes Part of the Company Culture

“Sustainability is best played together. It's validating to see what we started and see it grow first across the other teams in our plant, and eventually across Lubrizol.” — Kalli Stull

As a decades-old specialty chemical company, the team at Lubrizol knows a thing or two about teamwork. The world leader in chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) resins and compounds was the first to pioneer CPVC used in piping systems in 1959. Today, it continues to lead the industry with brands such as BlazeMaster®, Corzan® and FlowGuard Gold® — manufacturing its resins and compounds across four facilities globally.

In 2019, Kalli Stull — Resin Area Leader for the company’s Louisville, KY plant, which employs about 150 people today — had the opportunity to spend a week in Lubrizol’s resin plant in Delfzijl, Netherlands, along with five other team members. The objective: to exchange best practices on energy and water efficiencies and learn about any process improvements that could be duplicated in the US. Over the course of one week, they went on multiple field trips and took lots of notes.

Upon returning, the team went hunting — coming up with a list of potential projects they could explore for cost and energy efficiencies. Their initial list stood at just north of 100 possible ideas. According to Stull, the initial motivation was twofold: Identify opportunities for cost efficiencies and/or environmental improvements. Once the team began rolling out the projects, the returns became evident quickly.

The team paid particular attention to how the Netherlands plant was using a variety of strategies to reduce its dependence on fresh water. As part of their own due diligence, they began examining the lifecycle of their water use for opportunities to reduce, recycle or reuse better. One example: Could they recycle their neutralized waste stream during the waste treatment process to reduce the amount of freshwater used every time?

The answer was yes, and that change alone is expected to help the plant reduce its water use by almost 10 percent year over year. Other projects implemented in 2020-2021 included:

  • Identifying where and how much freshwater could be eliminated across the manufacturing process,

  • Trialing changes to the water treatment process,

  • Identifying the lines where recycled water could be introduced, and

  • Determining where to introduce reuse of process water instead of freshwater.

Altogether, these projects have helped the Louisville team achieve a 16.7 percent reduction in its water use year over year. These efforts also helped the plant win the American Chemistry Council Energy Efficiency & Waste Minimization, Reuse and Recycling Award in 2020. For Stull, this experience has underlined the importance of having the whole team on board.

Read more about the Lubrizol’s sustainability-focused teamwork here.