PPG automotive flat glass plant recognized for environmental leadership

PPG Industries' automotive flat glass plant here has been named member of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) program designed to reward facilities whose performance extends beyond compliance with environmental laws.

Membership in EPA's National Environmental Performance Track (NEPT) underlines PPG's commitment to the environment, according to David C.Cannon, PPG vice president of environment, health and safety.

"We are proud and honored by the EPA recognition," Cannon said. "It reflects PPG's commitment to reduce pollution, comply with environmental regulations, and continuously improve our environmental performance and productivity. PPG has always shared EPA's goal of protecting the environment."

Since 1996, the Meadville plant has reduced its volume of solid waste by 25 percent. Recyclable racks eliminate more than 350 tons of waste packaging and save more than $500,000 annually. In addition, plant operations annually reuse more than 100,000 tons of waste glass that otherwise would be disposed of in landfills.

Officials at the Meadville plant expect dramatic gains in energy efficiency and significant reductions in air emissions this year as a result of a $23-million project to rebuild a glass melting furnace and install an energy-efficient, oxygen-fuel furnace on one of the facility's two float glass production lines, according to Lynn Hoover, plant manager. When the project is complete, the plant will be the world's third flat glass production facility - and the second within PPG -- to use oxy-fuel firing, which reduces air emissions and natural gas consumption for melting raw materials, compared with conventional air-fired furnaces, Hoover said.

The new furnace will reduce nitrogen-oxide emissions by more than 50 percent, carbon-dioxide emissions by 15 percent and fuel consumption by 15 percent. It will also eliminate hazardous waste, or slag, produced in the glass manufacturing process.

"Installing oxy-fuel technology will improve our environmental efficiency and enhance our ability to produce high-quality glass for windshields and other automotive products," Hoover said.

PPG's Meadville plant "represents a new generation of environmental leaders who have the vision to embrace the strategies that will protect the environment for generations to come," said Dan Fiorino, director of EPA's Performance Incentives Division, Washington, D.C.

"The expectation is that PPG Meadville will motivate other companies and facilities to achieve similar environmental performance that complements and exceeds regulations."

The Meadville plant has also garnered praise from community leaders for its proactive efforts with local students, educators and media, and for its leadership in conducting annual health fairs and blood drives, and local environmental projects.

Andrew McElwaine, president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, praised PPG's commitment to the French Creek Watershed Project in a four-county region in northwestern Pennsylvania.

"The Meadville plant and PPG are wonderful partners in promoting and enhancing the vitality of the French Creek Watershed," McElwaine said. "The company is an environmental leader and the EPA recognition simply ratifies that fact. NEPT membership is awarded to very few companies. Granting it to PPG at Meadville is recognition of the company's accomplishments as compared to its peers. It should be a source of pride for both PPG and the Meadville community."

Glass manufactured at Meadville is used to fabricate windshields and side and back windows for the automotive industry.

Pittsburgh-based PPG is a global manufacturer of coatings, glass, fiber glass and chemicals, with 120 manufacturing locations and equity affiliates in 24 countries. Sales in 2001 were $8.2 billion.

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