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ADEQ selects finalists for environmental award | Business

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ADEQ selects finalists for environmental award
ADEQ selects finalists for environmental award

One of five finalists will be chosen later this month to receive the 2011 Arkansas Environmental Stewardship Award (“ENVY Award”), presented by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to recognize efforts to enhance and protect Arkansas’ natural resources. The winning entry will be announced during the April 22 meeting of the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission (APC&EC) at the ADEQ headquarters building, 5301 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, as one of the featured events during the agency’s annual Earth Week observance.

The “ENVY Award” was established by the ADEQ in 2005 to honor a major contribution by an individual or organization involving environmental stewardship activities in Arkansas. The finalists for this year’s award are:

+ A joint project involving the Cargill, Inc., meat processing facility at Springdale and the Illinois River Watershed Partnership (IRWP) to both improve water quality in the Illinois River basin and provide an educational project to assist individuals and organizations in developing water quality improvement activities of their own. The Cargill/IWRP project involves the establishment of “rain gardens” on plots of land planted with varieties of plants native to the watershed. The gardens function by filtering out up to 90 percent of pollutants in rainfall and runoff while allowing the water to drain through the soil and help recharge groundwater resources. Interested parties are provided with instructions and assistance to establish their own rain gardens.

+ The ConAgra Foods, Inc., frozen food packaging facilities at Batesville and Russellville for their conservation efforts in several areas, including increased energy efficiency, improved wastewater treatment, and reduced solid waste generation. Lighting upgrades and other energy efficiency measures have reduced electricity use at the Batesville facility by more than 3.2 million kilowatt hours per year, which means a reduction of nearly 1,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Wastewater treatment improvements at the Russellville plant reduced total suspended solids by 67 percent and biochemical oxygen demand by 33 percent between 2006 and 2009. Waste reduction and recycling efforts have diverted 93 and 72 percent of the plants’ former solid waste streams at Batesville and Russellville, respectively.

+ Delta Plastics of the South, located in Little Rock, has implemented a comprehensive recycling program that has resulted in the collection and recycling of steadily increasing amounts of plastics each year since efforts began in 2007 with the collection of more than 6.6 million pounds. By 2010, the program collected more than 59 million pounds. Delta’s program not only involves recycling plastics used in its manufacturing process, but it also includes off-site collection efforts at more than 2,000 locations where the company picks up used agricultural plastic items that otherwise would not be recycled.

+ A broad conservation, recycling, and sustainability initiative by the Jonesboro Frito-Lay, Inc., facility involving elements such as solid waste reduction and recycling, improved boiler efficiency, wastewater treatment improvements, reduced process water consumption, and fuel reduction involving facility vehicles. As a result of the program: Landfill waste has been reduced from 25 percent of the facility’s waste stream to less than one percent; water usage has decreased 75 percent; electric usage declined by 58 percent; and natural gas consumption has been cut by 68 percent since 1999. In addition, during 2010, the plant recycled more than 3,100 tons of materials such as cardboard, paper, wooden pallets, scrap metal, plastics, food processing waste, and packaging.

+ The L’Oreal, USA, cosmetics manufacturing facility in North Little Rock for its participation in the United States Department of Energy’s Home Energy Affordability Loan (HEAL) program, which has resulted in increased energy efficiency not only at the company’s plant, but at the homes of company employees as well. The program involves a zero-interest revolving loan fund to finance industrial energy efficiency improvements, and participating industries establish an internal loan fund to finance improvements on the private homes of company employees. L’Oreal anticipates improvements at the plant will result in an annual savings of 428,000 kilowatt hours, or an estimated reduction of 176 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, improvements at the homes of 83 employees are expected to result in an additional annual reduction of 2.23 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

All five finalists have been invited to attend the April 22 APC&EC meeting, where they will be recognized for their efforts prior to the announcement of the ENVY Award winner.