In late 2002 we were made aware that certain environmental groups had begun to focus on plastic pellet, flake, and powder loss as a potential source of pollution in our waterways. I was subsequently asked to moderate a focus group of industry participants whose goal was to understand the current pellet, flake, and powder containment measures that were in place and get feedback on revisions being made to the Operation Clean Sweep® (OCS) manual.
Prior to conducting the focus groups we had a pretty basic commitment to pellet, flake, and powder containment in our factory. Following my participation in the focus groups I made it a priority for our company to adopt the OCS procedures. I also challenged our supervisors to come up with their own ideas on improving pellet, flake, and powder containment, which they did. We now require all employees to take a pledge to preserve our environment, follow OCS procedures, and do their part to eliminate improper disposal of any plant materials, including plastic pellets, flakes, and powder. We took the additional step of adding this pledge and pellet, flake, and powder containment training to our new employee orientation program.
We have found that Operation Clean Sweep, while comprehensive, is an easy program to implement. We have also discovered that our employees appreciated knowing that their employer was paying attention to environmental issues in addition to the other issues that already get attention like, housekeeping, employee safety and wellness.
There is a trend from our largest customers to approve suppliers who can document corporate stewardship policies. We have incorporated our environmental program, the centerpiece of which is OCS, to our corporate stewardship program. We hope through this action more of our customers will add an environmental component to the qualification process for approved vendors.
Operation Clean Sweep has, without significant additional cost, helped give us the direction and tools to improve our overall plant cleanliness. It has also increased awareness among all of our employees that each of us is able to protect the environment. As a business owner in an overly-regulated state, I welcome the opportunity to become part of the solution while at the same time helping to avoid any further government regulations or penalties.
Recently our company pledged to adopt the latest version of Operation Clean Sweep. With the continuous demand from our customers to implement and improve operation and quality systems, we found that Operation Clean Sweep was a perfect complement to our existing operational systems. Over the past few years, we have seen an increasing number of customers and potential customers require confirmation that we incorporate systems that are both socially and environmentally sound. While this is still a relatively new trend, more and more supplier audits are including environmental controls as part of their approval process.
Operating a manufacturing business in the state of California is not easy. Operation Clean Sweep is frankly one of the simplest solutions to an environmental and regulatory issue that Jatco has ever implemented. We found that the integration of Operation Clean Sweep significantly helped us with overall plant cleanliness and awareness throughout all levels of employees within our organization. While we believe it is our duty as part of our industry to operate responsibly, we are also reassured by the potential avoidance of what we perceive as the ever-increasing threat of regulatory fines.
When I was first assigned the task of implementing OCS at our facility, I realized that much of what is outlined in the program is just plain common sense. The additional tips and techniques suggested by OCS gave us a good foundation to implement our facility specific program. My employees were involved from the beginning and I was pleased to find they were enthusiastic. Little by little, we set up pieces of the program, tested them out and made improvements. One of the greatest benefits was that most of what we did was easy and inexpensive to implement. Now our shop is cleaner, safer and more efficient.
I am a scuba diver and snorkeler and I want the ocean environment to be as clean in the future as I have enjoyed it in the past and present. Resin pellet, flake, and powder containment is a part of the process of achieving a clean ocean environment and I am dedicated to helping my company do its part.
We found that one of the keys to getting our program to work was to make it easy for the employees to comply. Having the right tools and equipment readily accessible made all the difference in the world. Employees basically want to do the right thing and making it easy for them to accomplish the goals ensures the success of the program.