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Industry Insight

Successful Environmental Sustainability

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Industry Insight

Successful Environmental Sustainability

With increasing demands on resources and an ever growing population, there is a need for businesses to improve their environmental sustainability. In recognition of its successful environmental management systems, IDT has recently been awarded ISO 14001:2004 Certification for its San Diego manufacturing facility.

We spoke to Jeanine Jensen, Manager, Corporate Communications and Sustainability, IDT, to find out about some of the sustainability measures IDT has adopted, and learn more about the recently launched IDT ISO 14001 Sustainability Award.

AM: IDT has recently received ISO 14001:2004 Certification for its San Diego manufacturing facility. Can you tell us a little about this certification?

JJ: Achieving ISO 14001 certification at our San Diego facility confirms IDT’s commitment to continuously improve our operations so that they meet the highest industry standards for environmental management systems, including: 
 
• Management review
• Internal audits
• Corrective and preventive action plans
• Management of chemicals, air, water and waste
• Emergency response preparedness
• Employee training
• Documentation and records control
• Regulatory compliance
• Facilities management

As our San Diego operations continue to expand, we also are strengthening our commitment to sustainable business practices. Production increases have been concurrent with reductions in product waste and manufacturing efficiencies are mirrored by staff efforts to eliminate non-renewable supplies, increase recycling and compost food waste.

AM: The certification follows on from the success of the Coralville facility being certified in 2012 and recertified in 2014. What are the drivers behind IDT’s ongoing focus on sustainability?

JJ: Sustainability is key to our business success and has been at the heart of IDT since its founding almost 30 years ago. In 2014, we made significant progress on our quest to become a more sustainable business. Our Coralville, Iowa, facility in particular has reduced landfill waste, switched from coal and oil based energy to natural gas and improved its safety performance to the lowest rate since we began tracking total recordable incidents at the facility.

Companywide, we launched a safety award program to recognize employees that identify and control safety risks. Working with the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health, we plan to implement a companywide ergonomics management program to further assess and manage workplace ergonomic risks.

We have a strong sense of purpose beyond profits. We took the fundamental step of revising our core business strategy to incorporate sustainability directly. We also developed environmental and social mission statements to stand alongside our business mission statement.

AM: Can you give examples of some of the features of IDT’s environmental management system that helped to achieve this certification?

JJ: To achieve ISO 14001 certification, our San Diego facility implemented programs for:

• Solvent and hazardous waste reduction
• Reducing energy consumption
• Reducing water usage
• Increasing recycling efforts
• Increasing use of reusable and recycled office and kitchen supplies

In addition to these efforts, this year the San Diego facility also is expanding its next-day courier service and is investing in high-efficiency and alternative energy vehicles.

AM: With California experiencing one of its worst droughts, there is an increased need for more businesses in the region to introduce sustainability measures such as IDT’s. Can you offer any advice or recommendations for implementing a successful sustainability strategy?

JJ: The backbone of ISO 14001 certification is documentation, training and internal audits. For those just beginning to implement sustainability strategies, these areas are a good place to start. For those looking to improve upon their EHS efforts, consider the following tactics already in place at IDT’s Coralville facility:

• Geothermal heating and cooling that significantly lower energy consumption for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
• Recycled content and low VOC finishes that reduce emissions and save money
• Stormwater retention to conserve water usage
• Rooftop Light Monitors
• Solar Shading
• Efficient Equipment

Key to our success has been cross functional teams that assess our sustainability performance goals and objectives, then strategize and implement opportunities for improvement. 
 
Attaining ISO 14001 certification is driven by our commitment to both sound sustainability efforts and responsible economic growth. Over the last 20 years, IDT has developed manufacturing methods that have resulted in a 20-fold decrease in the price of our custom nucleic acids. We have achieved this by building machines that use smaller reagent volumes, reduce waste, and use less energy. 

In San Diego specifically, the majority of our water usage comes from the process of converting tap water to purified water that can be used for oligonucleotide synthesis and quality control. To conserve, we train employees to use the purified water only for the processes that require it to ensure it is not being wasted. In addition, in the summer of 2015 we will be installing a new reverse osmosis pump into the water filtration system which will greatly reduce the amount of water going to the drain during the purification process. We are continually working to improve our processes and equipment so that they are as efficient as possible in their use of water and energy.

AM: To celebrate the certification, IDT has launched the IDT ISO 14001 Sustainability Award. Can you tell us more about this award?

JJ: We initiated this award to honor our San Diego facility’s achievement in attaining ISO 14001 certification. Through the promotion of this award we intend to educate our customers, employees and other key stakeholders in the use of our products as tools to advance the field of biodiversity. At the same time, we wish to demonstrate to all stakeholders that IDT is dedicated to advancing environmental sustainability in the communities in which it operates.

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The award winner will receive $14001 worth of Oligo Credit from IDT. The deadline for submitting an application is June 15, 2015, and the winner will be announced at a special event at our San Diego facility on August 18, 2015. 

This regional contest is open to all academic researchers in Southern California. 

For more information, you can visit our website at www.idtdna.com/sustainability.

Jeanine Jensen was speaking to Anna-Marie MacDonald, Editor for Technology Networks.
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