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US Brick Industry Honours Excellence in Environmental Stewardship and Health & Safety

Outstanding programmes in environmental stewardship and employee health and safety were honoured last week by the US Brick Industry Association (BIA) at its annual event in Orlando, Florida.

BIA President and CEO, Richard Jennison, said: "Brick manufacturers and distributors are demonstrating that -- just as all-natural brick itself -- they're operating in a sustainable manner: safeguarding the health and well-being of the environment, their employees, and society, at large".

Acme Brick (Fort Worth, Texas) won for its ‘Perla Plant Recycling Initiative ’ in which unfired brick waste is recycled and forms a new product. This translated into a 93% waste reduction as well as a cut in mining and landfill costs. Also, the new product now accounts for 10% of total sales for its plant.

Alley-Cassetty (Nashville, Tennessee) won for the ‘Reduced Truck Emissions’ programme that significantly cut vehicular emissions. This was done through regulating truck speeds; monitoring exhaust emissions; and recycling waste oil, anti-freeze and hydraulic oil, leading to a 6% increase in fuel efficiency.

Boral Bricks (Roswell, Georgia) won for its ‘Journey Toward Sustainability’ programme that implemented a new diagnostic tool to assess resource conservation successes. Conservation goals were set, the attainment of which impacts employees' performance bonus plans. Boral believes it has developed a transparent system for measuring greenhouse gas emissions, enabling the company to participate in a future emissions trading system.

Glen-Gery Corporation (Wyomissing, Pennsylvania) won for its ‘Energy Reduction Program’ in which heat from the mass of bricks exiting the kiln was recirculated back to the Proctor dryers. To achieve this, Glen-Gery redesigned the kiln's exit in order to supply all of the dryer's energy needs, thus eliminating the need for supplemental burners. The result was annual cuts in both natural gas consumption by more than 7,780 million cubic feet and CO2 emissions by more than 938,000 pounds.

Lawrenceville Brick (Lawrenceville, Virginia) used its ‘Scrubber Waste Recycling Program’ to identify beneficial uses for the waste that accumulates in dry limestone absorbers (or 'scrubbers'). Rather than send the waste to a landfill, the company provides the waste free of charge to local farmers' peanut, soybean and pasture lands, in which the lime waste reacts favourably with the soil.

Nash Brick (Rocky Mount, North Carolina) won for its ‘Secondary Containment’ programme protecting the environment by reducing the likelihood that suspended solids (or sediment) would leave the sediment basin. This innovation resulted in more environmentally-friendly mine reclamation, cleaner water for streams and a highly favourable Inspection Report from the NC Division of Land Quality stating that the "Site looks good. Owner shows interest in, and dedication to, exceeding expectations".

On the employee Health & Safety front, Acme Brick won for its ‘Be Alert-Safety First Day’ which consisted of an annual event, held at all Acme Brick locations, affording intensive safety training and leisurely games to reinforce the practical importance of safety programmes. Acme reported that this programme led to a significant reduction in injury rates.

Belden Brick Sales & Service (New York) won for its ‘Do the Right Thing For Our Friends’ programme delivering to all employees wellness, medical and pharmaceutical insurance free of charge. In addition to the coverage, any staff member wishing to quit smoking is given up to $500 for treatment.

Summit*Lakewood Brick (Pueblo, Colorado) won for its safety programme, steered by a plant safety committee that meets monthly to proactively address employee safety issues. This effort is supported by such other safety teams as those addressing lockout/tagout, forklifts, fleet safety and respiratory protection. Monetary awards are given to each department that meets its goals.

More than two dozen entries were submitted to the BIA contests, held entirely on-line. Entries were assessed by magazine editors, Roy Bigham of Pollution Engineering; Dave Johnson of Industrial Safety and Hygiene News; and Sandy Smith of Occupational Hazards. Judging criteria included the degree to which the entrant provided both quantitative and qualitative information on the company's effective management of EH&S issues and examples of expanding employee knowledge of these issues.

The Brick Industry Association (BIA) is the national trade association in the USA representing distributors and manufacturers of clay brick and suppliers of related products and services. The Association is involved in a broad range of technical, research, marketing, government relations and communications activities. It is the recognised national authority on residential and commercial uses of brick.

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