Tech Savvy

After All, Green Is Byrne’s Color

Green Suppliers Network
December 26, 2012 @ 7:01 AM

Byrne Electrical Specialists, Inc. has always been concerned with doing the right thing, but when you’re working with suppliers, vendors and customers, figuring out what the right thing is can be complicated. Pat Young, Byrne’s Director of Customer Relationship Development, knows this very well. The company’s lean manufacturing efforts began several years ago when Byrne was asked to become part of the EPA’s Green Suppliers Network. Byrne used that assessment as a jumping off point to put their own Kaizen plan together. Byrne began simply by recycling cardboard and having their plastic waste stream re-processed. Next, Young joined sustainability committees and began to study U.S. and European environmental standards, as well as the cradle-to-cradle practices being adopted by several companies. Office furniture manufacturer, Steelcase, was a customer who really motivated Byrne to make changes. Steelcase had announced that by 2012, they’d be a PVC-free company. As a primary electrical supplier, Byrne would need to be part of getting them there. Byrne met that challenge by making an existing non-PVC solution affordable. “We told them we could do it and we did,” says Young.

“Once Byrne said ‘yes’ to the GSN assessment, there was no holding them back,” says Mary Ellen Mika, Sustainability & Energy Manager with Steelcase’s Supply Chain group. “Pat not only took a proactive approach to supporting his… customer’s sustainability initiatives, he led the charge for Byrne in addressing global regulatory issues affecting their products. Byrne is a supplier we turn to for sustainability solutions.” These product changes and innovations have involved a lot of work with Byrne’s own suppliers and have often resulted in additional costs to convert materials and production methods, but that hasn’t stopped Byrne from pursuing new options for their clients. In fact, some materials were originally proprietary, developed specifically for Byrne, but are now available for specification by other manufacturers, as well. Byrne’s own recycling practices have also expanded and now include aluminum and steel. By design, Byrne’s modular power distribution harnesses are recyclable, but now they’re focused on reclaiming as much of its content as possible. Byrne continues to pride itself on working as a true partner with their customers – from design to manufacturing – and is perceived by many clients as the environmental expert at the table, actively seeking to solve problems and lead the way in green thinking.

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