Congratulations to Sustainability Leaders and Our Friends at PortionPac

December 30, 2009

Last month 38 Illinois companies and organizations were honored for
their significant achievements in protecting the environment, helping
sustain the future and improving the economy. Among the group was
PortionPac, whose president and co-founder, Marvin Klein, is an HSC
board member.

From the award materials:

PortionPac manufactures
sustainable janitorial cleaning detergents. The company’s premeasured
concentrated liquid products simplify cleaning while reducing the
resources used throughout the lifecycle of production, storage,
distribution, and disposal. PortionPac is utilized by schools,
hospitals, industrial firms, and commercial cleaners. Some of the
developments this year include expanding its Shared Savings program to
over 9,000 schools, redesigning service programs to further reduce its
carbon footprint, purchasing renewable energy credits to offset the
factory’s electric and gas usage, and converting its fleet to lower
emission technologies. Three new projects include a program to involve
all employees in sustainability efforts, relamping the factory to
achieve greater efficiency with reduced environmental impact, and a
communications systems project that utilizes modern communications
systems to cut the company’s carbon footprint.

For more background
on PortionPac's unique approach to sustainability, HSC intern Cynthia
San Miguel spoke with Marvin Klein about PortionPac's initiative to think critically, as an
organization, about ways to reduce carbon waste and be more green. She found that PortionPac adapted and used a process known as MUDA in which employees identified ways environmental waste was generated and then thought creatively about how to reduce it. Although the MUDA process was first made famous by Toyota (and can be used for a variety of purposes), PortionPac specifically targets initiatives to make the company greener and more environmentally sustainable.

As part of this effort, teams of PortionPac employees worked together to generate ideas and and present suggestions for ways that the company could become more sustainable.Here, Cynthia asks Marvin Klein about the experience:

Why did you decide to run a MUDA program in your effort to go green?

MUDA
is one program that can be understood and implemented by everyone —
whether they work in sales, the office or the factory. There is so much
waste of energy, supplies and unnecessary procedures in every
organization.

Toyota found that pure central planning from a
corporate headquarters was relatively ineffective in refining a
production system… the person doing the work knows their specific
role more intimately than anyone else, and accordingly is often in the
best position to identify waste and inefficiency as well as
opportunities for improvement.

Have the suggestions from the first phase been put in practice?

Twenty percent of the ideas have been implemented and we hope to implement more and more of them.

What do you hope employees learn from the initiative?

That
they are in control of their destiny — plus, appreciate and get to
know as many people as possible in the company. They must play a key
role in our overall success, not just with their own immediate job.
Their personal success at PortionPac is intertwined with the overall
success of the company.

Is there one suggestion that surprised you?

Not
just one but many. For example, sending electronic education modules to
our school accounts rather than the hard cover notebooks that were
traditionally distributed. Our controller, Judy Golden, found a program
where we could stop printing invoices to mail to customers, saving
labor, paper and postage. Our engineers installed an instant hot water
heater so we are not heating water 24/7 and also installed new light
bulb and ballasts combinations, which led to a reduction in energy use.
A more complex Team MUDA was increasing communication and collaboration
with video conferencing — an expanded use of screen-sharing
technology. It already looks like it will reduce our annual travel
expenses by $300,000 while recapturing a great deal of labor previously
lost in travel.

What advice would you have for others who want to implement this type of green initiative?

We
are a small manufacturer, but MUDA is reducing our carbon waste.
Reducing our carbon footprint increases profitability, and is good for
us and our customers. The market as well as increasing regulation will
demand environmental stewardship in the future. Companies that involve
everyone in their organization to examine their environmental impact
and improve it now will be well-positioned for greater profitability in
the years to come. .

How does your MUDA initiative connect
with your organization’s commitment to the environment?

Forty-five
years ago our company was founded on sustainable values, and we have
always tried to help our schools use fewer and less cleaning materials
and water and to use them safely. By eliminating this waste and overuse
we are shrinking our environmental footprint. Waste reduction is
never-ending. The best part is that it brings everyone into the
decision-making process and sharing in our success.

Congratulations
to Marvin and all our friends at PortionPac!