On July 19, 2018, an EF3 tornado hit the Vermeer Mile, leaving behind a path of destruction – leaving the Vermeer team down, but not out. Part of the rubble left behind was the Eco Center – a hub where hazardous waste generated at Vermeer is used in alternative ways, by reprocessing or burning for fuel consumption.
“While we are a global company, the Eco Center is a tremendous example of taking our environmental responsibility seriously in our local community. I’m proud of the team who works in the Eco Center and what they do to make a real impact on the world around us.”
said President and CEO Jason Andringa.
Today, rated with the highest safety classifications, the new and improved Eco Center is open and complete with a built-in grounding grid, humidity-controlled air to reduce the risk of static discharge and an automatic flammable vapor-sensing system that monitors each of the air handling systems to react to different flammable vapor concentrations.
Solvents are key to effectively clean paint line and paint guns. In a year, the Eco Center collects and recycles 100 percent of the solvent Vermeer uses, which is more than 60,000 gallons. At Vermeer, all used oil is collected and recycled or used as an alternative energy source.
Wood waste on campus comes from various sources – primarily the pallets and crates that bring steel, engines and other high-quality components to be used in the manufacturing process. The waste that can be reused into pallets is used as is, which amounts to 40,000 pallets a year. What can’t be reused as a pallet is grinded by an HG4000 horizontal grinder into mulch.
Yellow iron starts as raw steel before hitting machining centers, lasers and cutters. Scraps and metal dust from these processes are collected. And because Vermeer recycles these 40 million pounds of scrap metal each year, it is one of the largest manufacturing recycling companies in Iowa.
Electronic waste, or e-waste, is the fastest growing area of waste. It accounts for 40% of lead and 75% of heavy metals that are found in landfills that can negatively impact our water systems. At Vermeer, they collect all e-waste and partner with electronic recyclers that disassemble and reuse the metals and potentially toxic materials while maintaining information and data security.
In addition to recycling efforts, Vermeer team is also responsible for the important task of safely handling our hazardous materials, such as chemicals. Inside Eco Center is a chemical warehouse. All hazardous chemicals are secured with additional safety features like intrinsically safe wiring, an emergency spill system and a similar, but more sensitive, flammable vapor sensor system.
Nearby, their solar field, installed with Vermeer equipment, captures sunlight and distributes this green energy to their facilities. What isn’t used onsite is fed to their community’s grid.
EHS Manager Stephen Kelly said:
“I am so proud to be part of this talented, motivated and fun team dedicated to making a positive impact for our internal Vermeer customers, while proactively working to minimize our environmental footprint as an organization.”