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Korber Hats - Elimination of Hazardous Air Pollutants. OTA 1997.

Korber Hats of Fall River, Massachusetts, a maker of custom straw and felt hats, has reduced emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 80,000 pounds, 44,000 pounds of which was eliminated through process changes and chemical reformulation. The company, which was using 52,000 pounds of toluene and 17,200 pounds of methyl ethyl ketone in 1994, permanently eliminated the use of these hazardous air pollutants in 1995. Korber has successfully substituted a water-based stiffening process in its straw hat dipping operation. Once the company and its vendor reformulated a stiffener to a waterbased acrylic lacquer, Korber was able to eliminate the use of a solvent thinner which consisted of 30% methyl ethyl ketone and 60% toluene. Korber worked with its supplier to analyze existing coatings and create a new formulation, which would replace the solvent coating. The company has since successfully switched to an entirely water-based process with some process changes and minimal capital investment. After adjustments are made for production levels, this project has saved Korber a minimum of $36,000 annually in reduced chemical purchases and permitting costs.

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