The SGIA Sustainability Recognition Award program encourages SGIA member companies to create and adopt sustainable business practices and to set an example for other companies to follow. SGIA sat down with DreamScape (Rockaway, New Jersey), a 2016 Sustainability Recognition Award recipient, to discuss the changes they have made within their company and the plans they have for continuing their sustainability journey.
Eighteen months ago when DreamScape began designing their sustainability program, what was the initial catalyst for its implementation?
DreamScape is the media producing division of Roysons Corporation, a manufacturer of commercial, highly styled, high quality wallcoverings. Roysons started in 1978, and about four or five years ago we were a solvent-based printer. Recently we decided for several reasons — mainly because it became more readily available — to switch from solvent to water-based printing, which was going to make the facility safer and friendlier for our employees. I also felt that, down the road, New Jersey would become so strict on solvent-based printing that it would become price prohibitive.
What processes took place as you initiated the program?
The switch took several years. We had to find suppliers that would allow us to change without the quality suffering, meaning there would be no difference in the product, visually. At the same time, DreamScape was a natural offshoot because the wallcovering industry was losing favor due to air quality problems. They decided to start a sustainability program, and we had already made a lot of changes to go into water-based printing, so we had a good head start. It allowed us to position ourselves in the commercial wallcovering field as one of the top players, one of the “good guys,” and it allowed us to advertise our products as being safe and made with only the best environmental materials — and the same sustainability program applied to DreamScape. It was an ethical responsibility to our employees and our town. Our customers were starting to demand it.
Eventually, we went from a wallcovering initiative to being able to say that we are a sustainable manufacturer. We recycle all of our waste, including vinyl wastes which are recycled into new vinyl, but also the remainder goes into making electrical wire and garden hoses, etc. Our papers are all recycled, and we’ve reduced our waste dramatically through the years. We’ve also eliminated our thermo-destruction devices. They were all fired by natural gas, so it reduced natural gas in our facility by 47 percent, and we’ve eliminated our VOCs by 98 percent.
The biggest process in all of this was the conversion to water-based printing. We used to have after burners to catch the fugitive emissions from solvent-based printing, but now those emissions are zero. Now we have water-based inks as well as water-based adhesives. We even brought in the New Jersey Institute of Technology to study the motors on our machines and the lighting in our facility. As a result, we converted the entire facility to motion-detector lights — every single one. Part of the sustainability program is you have to reduce your shipping weight, so we brought in UPS to help redesign our skids and packaging supplies to make it lighter and more efficient.
What difficulties did you encounter during this changeover, and how did you address them?
It took a lot of time and a lot of research to find suppliers who are manufacturing what you need in order to make a change, whether it’s simple like a shipping bag that UPS will test and agree to ship. It comes down to the fine details on everything. But what it’s led to has been great. Besides having a Silver level on the NSF 342 Sustainability Standard, we got the Environmental Stewardship Award from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and TRA Certification as an Echo Verified Product Supplier to the Wall Board Industry. We’ve also been notified by the state that we’re coming out of Title V as a major facility air permit and classified as a general air permit. All of our products meet or exceed the federal standards.
What are your future sustainability goals?
Our goals for the future right now are to continue to automate and make things easier in the shop. We want to make things simpler, and we’re constantly striving to make things more efficient.