SKC goes green

New en­vi­ron­men­tal changes at lo­cal plant in­clude biodegrad­able film

The Covington News - - Local News - By Rachel Oswald

Sev­eral new changes have taken place at the SKC Inc. plant in Cov­ing­ton in­clud­ing the pro­duc­tion of an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly bio-degrad­able film, a large re­duc­tion in plant wa­ter us­age and the nam­ing of a new chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer.

For­mer Plant Man­ager Jeff Hud­speth was ap­pointed to the po­si­tion of chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer of SKC Inc. at the be­gin­ning of the year. Prior to his pro­mo­tion, Hud­speth had served as plant man­ager since 2002. As CTO, Hud­speth said he will fo­cus on im­prov­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­ogy. Hud­speth will con­tinue to re­port to SKC Inc. Pres­i­dent and CEO Hojo Kim.

Tak­ing Hud­speth’s place as plant man­ager is Tom Gray. Gray joined SKC in 1998 as the na­tional sales di­rec­tor.

As part of SKC’s new cor­po­rate strat­egy, the com­pany has un­der­taken sev­eral en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly ini­tia­tives. Some of those ini­tia­tives in­clude the in­ter­nal re­cy­cling of used film, the in­stal­la­tion of en­ergy ef­fi­cient light­ing, elec­tric mo­tors and elec­tric heaters, in­ter­nal wa­ter re­cy­cling ef­forts and an en­ergy shift from oil to nat­u­ral gas.

“We wanted to make sure that peo­ple un­der­stood that we’re very much aware of the im­pact that we have,” Hud­speth said. “Our en­ergy and wa­ter con­sump­tion tie in. We want to be a re­spon­si­ble com­mu­nity cor­po­ra­tion and to do our part as well.”

Ac­cord­ing to Hud­speth, since 2004 SKC has re­duced its base­line wa­ter con­sump­tion by 77 per­cent. As of Novem­ber 2007, SKC was the city of Cov­ing­ton’s sec­ond largest wa­ter user.

“There’s been some very ma­jor con­cern about wa­ter,” Hud­speth said. “We’ve done a lot of things to cut back our con­sump­tion. It’s im­por­tant that peo­ple un­der­stand that in­dus­try is work­ing to be a good stew­ard.”

While SKC still uses a good deal of wa­ter, Hud­speth said much of the wa­ter the com­pany uses is re­cy­cled in­ter­nally for ad­di­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing us­age.

SKC also main­tains more than 200 acres of nat­u­ral wood­lands on its Cov­ing­ton cam­pus with the pur­pose of off­set­ting the fa­cil­ity’s car­bon diox­ide out­put. The Cov­ing­ton fa­cil­ity em­ploys 260 peo­ple to­day.

As part of SKC’s move to­wards more en­vi­ron­men­tally man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses, the com­pany re­cently in­tro­duced a new film pro­duced from biodegrad­able corn starch. The poly­lac­tic acid film called Sky­wel can be used not only in the pack­ag­ing ma­te­ri­als used for food prod­ucts but also for en­ve­lope win­dows, la­bels and tapes.

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion made avail­able by SKC, Sky­wel film takes six to 10 weeks to de­com­pose in a com­post heap, two to four months to de­com­pose in a land­fill and two to three years to de­com­pose in wa­ter and soil.

Hud­speth said the price of Sky­wel film is com­pet­i­tive with that of stan­dard polyester film on ac­count of the in­crease in the cost of fos­sil fu­els used in the polyester film man­u­fac­tur­ing process. Hud­speth said the de­vel­op­ment process for Sky­wel film took be­tween three and four years.

Cur­rently Sky­wel film is used in the pack­ag­ing of Fri­toLay bar­be­cue fla­vored chips and chili cheese fla­vored chips Hud­speth said. A tran­si­tion to biodegrad­able film will be driven by con­sumer de­mands for en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly prod­ucts Hud­speth said.

“If there’s a de­mand for that, we want to be in a po­si­tion to fill that,” Hud­speth said. “We are the in­ter­me­di­ary and [the cor­po­rate buy­ers of SKC film] do the con­ver­sion. Based on their mar­ket­ing strat­egy, they’ll set the de­mand for the film.”

So far at least four com­pa­nies have asked for sam­ples of the Sky­wel film.

“A lot of the big pack­ag­ing com­pa­nies are very in­ter­ested in [Sky­wel],” Hud­speth said. “There’s re­ally a very large in­ter­est both in North Amer­ica and South Amer­ica and Europe.”

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