• Cecile Corral

Bacova Greening on Broad Front

The Bacova Guild Ltd. is on a mission to "do the right thing" for the environment.

The area, accent, scatter and bath rug supplier is undertaking numerous steps — from product development and manufacturing to packaging and shipping — to help reduce waste, streamline energy use, reduce bio hazards and offer consumers sustainable products that they can feel good about using.

"The green, sustainability concept is what the consumer wants," said Charlie Bowers, president. "We may not entirely be there yet, but I believe more and more consumers will be moving toward those kinds of products … we are certainly working on many environmental initiatives as a result of our commitment to ecology and the ability to do the right thing by our environment. We have installed a number of different technologies that will address that issue."

One of the biggest investments came with Bacova's 2006 installation of a bio-mass boiler. This boiler burns biodegradable waste, like wood chips and other organic refuse, to create energy.

"It was expensive, but it gives us the ability to eliminate our dependence on natural gas and propane," Bowers explained. "It doesn't completely eliminate it but it basically offsets the demand for natural gas and propane, and we see that as a big payoff. Operating our facilities with renewable energy is a long-term goal. We have taken a first step by installing this bio-mass boiler."

Aside from using its own waste, Bacova also collects materials from neighboring factories, many of them woodworking facilities in Virginia.

Removing toxic substances from its manufacturing process, vehicles and facilities is an additional eco focus. Bacova has removed chlorine bleach — or sodium hypochlorite — from all of its products. Instead, hydrogen peroxide is used to whiten products, mainly the bath rugs, as a safer alternative.

Waste dyes are another concern, which is why 80% of Bacova's waste dyes are currently being recycled. For more than a decade, the company has been collecting and transferring its surplus dyes to holding tanks, where they are analyzed and used in new dye formulas.

This specific effort earned Bacova's Rocky Mount, Va.-based parent company, Ronile, the 1996 Governor's Environmental Excellence Award, an honor from the A.L Philpott Manufacturing Center for Innovative Technology.

Bacova offers this technology for free to the textile industry.

Recycling the products the company uses in its offices, production and packaging is another daily effort. Last year the company recycled 511,073 pounds of cardboard, plastics, used oil, office paper and lead acid batteries.

The energy used to light, cool and heat Bacova's facilities is now more efficient, with the recent installation of 360-watt energy-saving light bulbs and automatic setback thermostats for heating and cooling work spaces. To save on transportation and reduce pallet loads, Bacova is encouraging its vendors to transport products in "floor load" form. Since December 2006, 73,771 cartons have been transported in this manner — a savings of 5,261 pallets, which in term reduces the number of trees needed to create more pallets.

On this same note, the company has switched to an in-house pallet design, which calls for pallets to be cycled through the plant for years.

Bacova is also asking customers to order larger quantities per carton to reduce the amount of cardboard needed per piece.

The company's warehouse management system, which was digitally restructured in 2005, aims at a significant reduction of paper use. So far, this process has reduced that amount by 450,000 sheets of paper annually. Use of plastic wrap for shipments has also been reduced.

Bacova has altered scheduling for its workforce to pass on this eco-friendly attitude to its staff. The company offers employees the option to work four 10-hour workdays as opposed to five eight-hour days, to help them save on fuel, also encouraging carpools reduced.

The company also plans to reduce its outside warehouse space. "This reduction will save fuel usage from reduced usage of truck transporting product between warehouses, fork lift traffic used to move product in and out of trailers and the warehouse, and electricity usage in the buildings," Bacova said.

Cecile CorralCecile Corral | Senior Product Editor, Home & Textiles Today

Cecile B. Corral has been a product editor with Home Textiles Today since late 2000. She covers the area and accent rug, kitchen textiles, table linens, beach towels, decorative bath and decorative pillow categories, as well as some retail subjects.

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