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Columbia Manufacturing Recognized for Environmental Leadership

Contact: Karen Angelo, 978-430-6303, karen@turi.org.

April 30, 2015, Westfield, Mass. – The Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) program and state legislators today presented Columbia Manufacturing, Inc. with an award in recognition of the company’s environmental leadership.

One of nine companies across Massachusetts being recognized as a “TURA 25th Anniversary Leader,” Columbia Manufacturing has saved thousands of gallons of water usage per day and drastically reduced hazardous waste generation, all while reinventing itself from a manufacturer of bicycles to the second largest manufacturer of school furniture in the nation. The improvements have saved Columbia $3 million in water and sewer fees, $3.85 million in nickel purchases and usage and $800,000 in chromium purchases and usage.

“As a small business, it was a big risk for us to change our manufacturing line,” says Senior Vice President Ali Salehi of Columbia Manufacturing. “But I’m proud to say that with the guidance of the Office of Technical Assistance, we expanded and upgraded our plating line. We would not be in business today without the improvements we made to reduce water use, chemical use, hazardous waste and wastewater.”

By working collaboratively with the state’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) for more than 15 years, the company selected an efficient plating line that recovers and reuses 98 percent of the nickel and chromic acid plating chemistry. Columbia also eliminated the use of 147,000 gallons per day of process water and no longer generates 130,000 gallons per day of wastewater from the new plating processes. All of the wastewater is recovered as deionized water and used in the rinse baths.

“OTA’s mission is to help companies investigate whether they can reduce use and waste generation, such as wastewater discharges from plating processes, and we could not be more grateful when a company like Columbia not only reduces discharges but eliminates them, and then generously shares with other companies how they did it,” says Rick Reibstein, Manager of Outreach and Policy, Office of Technical Assistance.

With 70 employees during peak season, Columbia Manufacturing has been operating in Westfield since 1877.

“We are very proud of our accomplishments to be a good corporate citizen and very much appreciate the recognition of the TURA 25th Anniversary Leaders award,” says Salehi.

Read more in the Columbia Manufacturing case study.

The awards and facility tours taking place from March through May showcase environmental accomplishments—reducing the use of toxic chemicals, reducing waste and conserving energy and water—since the Toxics Use Reduction Act was enacted into law by the Massachusetts legislature in 1989.

About the Toxics Use Reduction Act Program

The Toxics Use Reduction Act does not restrict chemical use but requires companies to evaluate toxic chemical use, submit usage reports to the state and assess the implications of reducing use by making process changes or switching to safer alternatives. Data show that Massachusetts companies continue to make progress in reducing toxic chemical use and waste: between 2000 and 2012, companies reduced use by 23 percent, waste by 42 percent and on-site releases by 73 percent.

Celebrating 25 Years
 Twenty-five years ago, the Massachusetts legislature passed landmark legislation—the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA). Today, the TURA Program is considered a model environmental policy by other states and countries. The three agencies below have provided training, grants, technical assistance and support to help companies reduce toxic chemical use and costs, improve health and safety and compete globally as more international regulations restrict the use of toxic substances.

  • Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Provides education, training, and grants for Massachusetts industry and communities; sponsors research and demonstration sites on safer materials and technologies; provides policy analysis; and manages the TURA Science Advisory Board.
  • Office of Technical Assistance & Technology (OTA). A non-regulatory agency within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs that provides free, confidential, on-site technical and compliance consultations to Massachusetts businesses and institutions.
  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). Certifies Toxics Use Reduction (TUR) Planners, receives and reviews toxics use reports submitted by companies, provides guidance, takes enforcement actions, and collects chemical use data and makes it available to the public.
Columbia Manufacturing Event Photos