Office furniture maker Steelcase Inc. (Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.) today said that it has achieved an environmental milestone in its manufacturing processes by eliminating the emission of almost all Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from its metal finishing operations based in Michigan, U.S.
VOC emissions can produce ground-level ozone, which contributes to the creation of smog.
"Protecting the environment is part of our founding principles and is integral to Steelcase's core values," said James P. Hackett, CEO and president of Steelcase. "I am pleased with the progress we have made in improving our manufacturing processes and we will continue to find innovative solutions to increase our environmental sensitivity."
Steelcase said it accomplished this by developing new technologies to convert solvent-based painting operations to powder coat finishing. Over the last 25 years, the company said it has reduced VOC emissions in its Michigan metal finishing operations by 97 percent. Further, it was reportedly able to accomplish this milestone for approximately U.S. $25 million less than originally predicted. Steelcase said it is also converting to powder coat finishing in other manufacturing facilities located in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. When the conversions are complete, its global VOC emissions will be reduced even further, the company said.
"We originally discussed eliminating VOC emissions in the early 1990s. While it seemed an impossible task at first, we knew it would be a positive undertaking for the environment, our business, and the industry," said David Rinard, director of corporate environmental performance at Steelcase. "After a careful analysis, we determined that the long-term benefits would far outweigh the estimated costs and we embarked on our goal to be VOC Free by 2003 in our metal finishing operations."
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