Gov. Bill Haslam recently stamped his seal of approval on a diverse group of Tennessee companies and governmental jurisdictions whose commitment to protecting mankind’s greatest resource — Planet Earth — earned them the 2014 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award.
One of the recipients was Bradley County’s own Cormetech Inc., a highly automated, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that produces high volumes of catalyst for worldwide emissions control applications in coal and gas-fired power plants, as well as petrochemical and refinery processes.
Cormetech’s honor, which was announced earlier this summer and documented in a previous edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner, came in the “Excellence in Materials Management” category. Cormetech’s distinction was one of several recognized statewide by the governor’s office.
The frosting on the environmental cake came recently when Haslam and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob
Martineau hosted the 2014 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards event in the Ellington Agricultural Center in Nashville.
In its 28th year, this year’s award program covered nine categories, according to a press release distributed by TDEC. The categories included Building Green, Clean Air, Energy and Renewable Resources, Environmental Education and Outreach, Environmental Education and Outreach (school category), Land Use, Materials Management, Natural Heritage and Sustainable Performance.
“[These] announcements celebrate Tennesseans who are committed to our environment,” Haslam said in the press release. “Recognizing these innovative efforts that help conserve and protect our natural resources is important in keeping our communities strong and economically viable. I am proud to work alongside each and every one of the winners.”
Martineau, whose commissioner post plays a key role in monitoring Tennessee’s commitment to the environment, echoed the governor’s sentiments.
“It’s important that we recognize the people and organizations that work hard to protect our environment, while also teaching others about sustainability,” Martineau said. “The better we take care of our environment, the better our quality of life, which directly impacts how Tennesseans live, work and play.”
Determining this year’s honorees wasn’t an automatic process. According to information provided by TDEC, “... A panel of 21 professionals representing agricultural, conservation, forestry, environmental and academic professionals judged more than 75 nominations and selected this year’s award recipients based on criteria including on-the-ground achievement, innovation and public education.”
In an article published on the front page of the Banner in May which originally confirmed Cormetech’s selection to an Environmental Stewardship Award, it was pointed out Cormetech’s environmental efforts to decrease and reuse waste generated in the manufacturing process began in 2009.
Denise Rice, whose title then was director of Cleveland operations and development, pointed out the efforts started as a team project to reduce waste at the facility by 15 percent. The team exceeded its goal by reducing waste by more than 50 percent. This achievement led to the implementation of additional ideas to reduce waste and improve recycling.
Rice, whose Cormetech status is now director of Worldwide Manufacturing Effectiveness, said in the earlier Banner interview that she is “... thrilled that Cormetech is being recognized for our efforts in environmental stewardship” and that the award comes at an appropriate time after having been honored earlier by the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association.
Cormetech’s efforts that led to the governor’s recognition included “... catalyst waste reduction, hazardous waste stream elimination, module paint elimination, and recovery and reuse of excess liquid solutions,” according to TDEC reports.
Rice pointed to the reclaiming of 27 tons of waste back into the plant’s manufacturing process as being especially notable. This practice not only lessens the amount of waste going to the landfill, it also reduces Cormetech’s operational costs.
The TDEC news release pointed out this recovery and rework of material should result in $100,000 in annual savings to the company in raw materials. It also stated the total number of waste streams at Cormetech was downsized from seven to only two.
Like other companies and government jurisdictions, Cormetech was well-represented at the recent governor’s awards event. A few Cormetech associates included Stacy Greene, plant manager; Enos Tracy, chief financial officer and director, Durham Manufacturing; Gill Preddy, director, Corporate Quality/Laboratory; Rodney Curvin, manager, Production/Environmental & Safety; and Rice.
The entire slate of environmental awards, and their recipients, for the day included:
- Excellence in Building Green, Crash Pad Hospitality in Hamilton County;
- Excellence in Clean Air, city of Kingsport in Hawkins and Sullivan counties;
- Excellence in Energy and Renewable Resources, Whites Creek High School in Davidson County;
- Excellence Environmental Education and Outreach, Boone Watershed Partners in Carter, Sullivan and Washington counties;
- Excellence in Environmental Education and Outreach/Schools, Jackson Madison County;
- Excellence in Land Use, J.A. Street & Associates Inc. in Sullivan County;
- Excellence in Natural Heritage, High Ground Park in Knox County;
- Excellence in Sustainable Performances, Bridgestone Americas in Davidson County;
- Pursuit of Excellence Recognition, Chattanooga Airport in Hamilton County; and
- Excellence in Materials Management, Cormetech Inc. in Bradley County.
Also, the Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Winfield Dunn, former Tennessee governor from 1971 to 1975.
“Winfield Dunn’s fingerprints and name are on some of the most important environmental protection and natural resource conservation laws in the history of Tennessee,” the TDEC news release cited.
It added, “Many of the things Tennessee communities celebrate and benefit from today, such as clean, abundant water and protection of unique natural areas like nowhere else in the world, can trace their roots back to the critical work accomplished by Gov. Winfield Dunn.”
During his tenure, Dunn was responsible for moving Tennessee forward with landmark conservation progress in natural areas, strip mining prevention and critical land acquisition, according to TDEC. The former governor also oversaw passage of the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act in 1971, which served as “... the cornerstone protecting our state’s waters and was a model for other states as they developed their own water protection programs,” TDEC cited.
Dunn also signed into law, on May 15, 1971, the Natural Areas Preservation Act “... to protect special places in Tennessee with significant scenic, scientific, geological or recreational value,” according to TDEC.