Monadnock Non-Wovens LLC, which makes rolls of melt-blown polypropylene, began investing in this green renewable energy process to “do the right thing for the environment,” said Keith Hayward, managing director and principal of Monadnock.
Hayward said that while the company pays a premium to have this wind-powered electricity resource, Monadnock is taking a great leap forward in its five-year plan “to reduce environmental impacts and help its customers realize their complex sustainable purchasing objectives.”
In fact, in March the company announced that all of its products now are manufactured with renewable electricity.
Lisa Hardin Berghaus, manager of marketing communications, said it doesn’t mean there are wind turbines on the plant property. Instead, Monadnock made a significant investment in green e-certified renewable wind-powered energy certificates called RECs.
“The company has offset its entire electrical requirement while supporting new, additive wind-powered electricity generation,” she said. “Using a renewable source in manufacturing represents MNW’s strong commitment to sustainability.”
FOUND IN MANY PRODUCTS
This venture is just the latest green initiative for a company that burns one megawatt of electricity – 1,000 kilowatt hours a day – creating a product that essentially becomes a component found in many items used daily by the average consumer.
“What we make looks like giant rolls of toilet paper. It is nonwoven media polypropylene used in acoustic insulation, which is in automobiles, and thermal insulation used in refrigerators and dishwashers,” Hayward said. “It is the media that does the work inside a water filter, for instance,” or material used in a surgical mask.
Resin enters the plant via rail cars. Machines are used to turn this resin to liquid that then becomes long fibers, Hayward said.
The end result is long sheets of web that are rolled or boxed and shipped to customers.
RAIL VS. TRUCK
According to Hayward, the company installed a rail spur eight years ago with the help of grant money from the state Department of Transportation.
These rail cars can hold four bulk trucks, and Monadnock uses about 10 per month, which ultimately has taken 40 bulk trucks off the road.
“You can say we are reducing air pollution that way by taking these trucks off the road,” Hayward said.
The company’s plan to be more environmentally friendly includes installing light-emitting diode lights, improving temperature controllers in the facility and recycling of office plastic, drink containers, bottles and cardboard.
REUSE OF HEAT
In the past, a dumpster would be filled every two weeks. Now, Monadnock sees one dumpster filled every three months.
“Nearly 80 percent of our cardboard packaging is returned by the customer for reuse,” Hayward said, adding that waste reduction has eliminated runs to landfills and the amount of waste in dumpsters.
This has occurred even as the company can boast an increase of nearly 200 percent in business volume over the last five years, Hayward said.
“We have also eliminated propane gas heating as we engineered air reheating systems using the heat produced in melting plastic to heat our building in winter and fall,” he said.
SHIFT IN FOCUS
Monadnock started in 1998 in Stroudsburg and moved in 2000 to its present headquarters in Mount Pocono.
Bringing in more than $25 million in revenue annually, the facility is owned by Monadnock Paper Mills Inc. of New Hampshire, a family owned paper company that has been existence since 1819.
Hayward said Monadnock was created to make vacuum bag media in the era when vacuum bags were a household necessity.
But over the last decade, that synthetic material needed for the vacuum industry basically became obsolete. So, Monadnock instead put the focus on its polypropylene product, which spans multiple industries and targets customers in the U.S., Mexico, Europe and Korea.
DOUBLING IN SIZE
Since 2014, the company has doubled in size. The 50,000-square-foot facility sits on four acres of land and there have been several expansion projects.
“We swim in an ocean with giant, multinational companies. Our entire sales team probably grosses in a week what these companies spend in postage use,” Hayward said, noting the struggles that the company faces in a market where it is a small player.
Monadnock is directly affected by the price of oil and gas since propylene is a waste product created when crude oil is refined into gasoline, diesel fuel and other products.
According to Hayward, it has helped that the price of gas has dropped to nearly $2 a gallon.
High gas prices can affect the company for several reasons. Hayward offers the example of how when the price of gas is high, people buy smaller cars and smaller cars have less acoustic insulation – one of the materials that contains Monadnock’s product.
He said the company’s continued growth in recent years means Monadnock will soon need to add another location, although it may be able to buy another machine for the production floor. New machinery means more new jobs created since this is a manufacturing facility that runs 24 hours a day with no shutdown.
“This site is maxed out,” Hayward said. “… We expect to double our sales in five years.”