Formerly the heart of steel country, the Mon Valley has seen some of the worst economic decline in Western Pennsylvania. Its once bustling main streets fell dormant as factories, companies, and residents left.
The hearty soul of the Mon Valley outlasted the factories, and the same spirit of innovation that smelted the steel that built a nation remains. No more is that character exemplified than at DMI Companies, whose main facility in Monongahela is now the first TRUE Silver zero waste to landfill manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania.
“We believe sustainability is in our DNA,” CEO Raymond Yeager said, “We built this company focusing on energy and labor-saving products.”
Since its founding in the 1978, DMI has been manufacturing products focused on resource conservation and efficiency. In 2011, the company began to materialize its overall vision of a sustainable future into its manufacturing processes. However, that application would take more than just reducing waste and recycling materials, requiring a mirror shift in society to have a real impact.
“We had been working on a culture change throughout the company to not only focus on zero waste to landfill but on energy savings and water savings.” Mr. Yeager added. “We want to be all inclusive in these programs.”
The foundational transformation was spearheaded by DMI’s former Sustainability and Environmental Compliance Manager, Lisa Pavan, who has since retired. Her vision of companywide sustainability remains stronger than ever.
“You can tell an individual that this is the way we’re going to do things, but then they slowly fall back to old habits. You have to get them to buy-in to what you’re doing,” COO Doug Gudenburr noted.
DMI identified TRUE Zero as the standard that would best fit their large-scale manufacturing operation and filed for certification in 2018.
Mr. Gudenburr noted that employees, especially the company’s younger staff, were quick to adapt to the new changes. “We now have people who practice this at home, and come back with their own ideas.”
Common-sense changes like placing composting bins throughout the plant and recycling pallets were applied, as well as high-level modifications like employee trainings and requiring contractors and vendors to complete a “sustainability checklist” before entering DMI’s facility.
The process itself was a rousing success, and DMI exceeded their internal goal of 38 credits by achieving 41 of 45 credits on the TRUE Silver scale. In addition, the company diverted over 94 percent of their waste from incineration or landfills through recycle, reuse, and reduction programs.
Beyond its changes to the Monongahela manufacturing plants, DMI outfitted its headquarters in Charleroi with smart technologies like sensor-based lighting and a solar panel array.
“Sustainability is not an initiative that sits outside of our daily practices, but rather the essential structure on which we build every element of our operations,” Mr. Gudenburr added.
As society at large wrestles with a broad culture change around combatting the climate crisis, DMI is stepping into the future and leading the way to sustainability in the manufacturing industry.