The challenge of building an environmentally sustainable company is ultimately about doing more with less—about growing the business while somehow, simultaneously, reducing waste and the consumption of natural resources. That challenge is especially great when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
As we work toward our 2025 goal of reducing our absolute greenhouse gas emissions by at least 3 percent every year our largest business unit, Label and Graphic Materials, continues to pay close attention to its energy intensity—the number of megawatt hours of electricity consumed per million square meters of product produced. Measuring intensity informs our understanding of how to make more product with less energy and fewer resulting emissions.
While we bring our engineering expertise to bear on energy efficiency companywide, our North Asia Pacific and South Asia Pacific regions, in particular, have recently demonstrated how good engineering can enable great gains in efficiency. Between 2007 and 2016, those regions reduced their total energy intensity by 53 percent—12.5 percent in just the last two years.
The gains have been largely driven by two factories in the Chinese cities of Kunshan and Guangzhou. For example, the teams at these facilities have optimized the process for drying the adhesive we apply to our pressure-sensitive labels, which is one of the most energy-intensive parts of our manufacturing process. Our teams first reduced the amount of heat wasted in the drying process by minimizing exhaust rates and recycling more of the heated air. Then they installed systems for capturing and reusing heat from the remaining exhaust streams. Further, they leveraged our in-house capabilities to model drying processes to minimize temperatures and maximize production speeds. According to Dan Wiedl, director of global process technology for our Label and Graphics Materials business,our teams in China made the improvements by tapping into Avery Dennison’s global engineering network and our industry-leading expertise in the label-manufacturing process.
“There are many touch points that enable collaboration between our engineers globally. We hold regular engineering training sessions on topics like this,” Dan explains. “We also have other platforms for sharing technical best practices, such as collaboration websites and databases. Each region develops a plan for tackling energy efficiency, and then they connect with our global experts as necessary to support execution of the plans.”
Over the last eight decades, we’ve developed materials science and process manufacturing expertise that in many ways defines our industry. As it turns out, that’s a great asset as we pursue sustainability.
Read more about our progress in reducing energy consumption here.