The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

December 10, 2012

Keihin’s Tarboro plant wins Honda’s 2012 Green Factory Award


TARBORO — Keihin Carolina System Technology (KCST) was presented with  Honda’s Green Factory award on Nov. 15 in recognition for factory’s sustainability activities in the area of pollution prevention.  The Tarboro facility encompasses a 147,000 square foot manufacturing space on 60 acres of land, where they produce leading Engine Control Units.  John Foster, Sustainability Coordinator, describes KCST’s path toward being a sustainable enterprise, “It’s been an adventure so far, but a great one.  We’ve learned so much.”

One of the first things they’ve learned along the way is how to tackle waste, achieving Zero Waste to Landfill status.  Hazardous waste shipping has already been reduced at the plant by 67 percent along with the diversion of 2,500 wooden pallets annually from landfills.  Printing conservation efforts have prevented the use of 1,000 reams, or 500,000 sheets, of paper.  Cardboard — which made up the majority of waste to landfill — is now recycled on-site, saving the company a whopping $3,500 per month.  This actively demonstrates that when a company makes the decision to divert waste, it not only helps the environment, but their pocketbook as well.

The cafeteria is one place at KCST where changes are tangible — with styrofoam dishware having been completely replaced by reusable plates and a newly installed dishwasher, diverting 250 plates daily from landfills. Food subcontractor Suburban Grille takes all of the factory’s compost and, as Foster explains, has been extremely cooperative in adapting to the new sustainability measures.  Employees are provided a recycling center within the cafeteria where they can recycle aluminum cans, plastic bottles, utensils, etc.

As for energy efficiency measures, all air compressors have been upgraded, producing a 21 percent energy savings.  Meanwhile, the facility's lighting has transitioned from metal halide bulbs to T5 bulbs and now the T5 bulbs are being replaced by LED bulbs, making for a 68 percent energy savings.  Water usage decreased after automatic, low-flow toilets and faucets were installed in all bathroom facilities.  A new white or “cool” roof installation along with run-as-needed, energy efficient heating and ventilation equipment hasn’t hurt energy savings, either.

Foster says the biggest sustainability challenge has been the mindset change internally.  “It is difficult on associates.  If you do things the same way for 14 years, you have to explain why it’s so important to change now.  You have to retrain everybody from their old way of life.”

A staff Green Team meets once a month, with each team member being assigned to a sub-committee that focuses on specific issues like waste reduction, energy, events and so on. Employees can mark Green Team hours as community service hours. Staff conducted a total of 813 community service hours for multiple projects such as the Green Team and external non-profit projects within the first six months of this fiscal year.

Foster was pleasantly surprised that from the beginning there has been a high level of support from management. “We had total buy-in from top down, which has been essential to the program.”

Future sustainability goals include becoming a LEED-Certified Building, ISO 50001 Certification, maintenance of Zero Waste to Landfill status, 25 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2018 and 50 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2050.