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Meet Inpro’s Environmental Specialist

April is Earth Month! Earth Month encourages participation in activities that focus on sustainable development, environmental initiatives and climate solutions. At Inpro, we’re obsessed with sustainability just as much as we’re obsessed with protecting buildings. We sat down with our Environmental Project Specialist, Jess Jenkins (LEED Green Associate and TRUE Advisor), to chat about all things sustainability. 

Could you talk a little bit about what an Environmental Specialist does?

I maintain all sustainability documentation for our products and coordinate testing to make sure our products are compliant with environmental standards. I also work directly with customers to provide sustainability documentation for specific projects (ex: LEED documentation), explain our environmental practices, and answer general questions about our products and company. Likewise, I train all new employees about topics pertaining to sustainability at Inpro and develop a foundation for their knowledge to grow. I am also heavily involved in “green” employee engagement, specifically centered around our Garden Club, on-campus beehives, Earth Week celebration, continuing education courses, and informational lunch & learns.

Is it common for manufacturers to have a sustainability employee? 

It really depends on the business but I am seeing more and more manufacturers hiring sustainability specialists that focus specifically on the environmental aspects of a business. Instead of sustainability being an afterthought, there is a huge push to have a professional dedicated solely to sustainability. This gives sustainable decisions more credibility and typically brings direct environmental knowledge into a company.

What do you think is a common myth about sustainability and manufacturing? 

That the manufacturing process is inherently not sustainable; when most people think about manufacturing, they think of pollution and waste. At Inpro, we work hard to address that stigma. While manufacturing does require energy input, utilizes various resources, and produces by-products – we assess our processes so that these factors are minimized to prevent damage to our environment. We closely monitor all manufacturing processes and adhere to all environmental policies. We also track resource usage and constantly look for ways to improve. Above all, we want to make sure we produce high-quality products while promoting a healthy environment and workforce. While the manufacturing process isn’t the “greenest”, we do our very best to mitigate risk and to leave our environment better than we found it.

How does Inpro incorporate sustainability into the manufacturing of its products? 

The tougher question would be how DON’T we incorporate sustainability into our manufacturing process! From product development through final manufacturing, the environmental impacts of a product are examined and evaluated to meet our company goals. We work diligently to prevent excess scrap/waste and look to use raw materials with sustainable features (such as low emissions, locally produced, non-toxic, etc). Additionally, we try to incorporate recycled material into as many products as possible – whether by reworking pre-consumer scrap or utilizing post-consumer recycled material. Aside from the materials used in our products, we also examine the sustainability of our manufacturing process and work to reduce energy and water usage at all steps. Our Environmental Management Systems (EMS) Team reviews all data related to manufacturing and works to achieve goals to lower our footprint. 

How is Inpro “obsessed” about sustainability? 

Inpro is obsessed with sustainability because it’s factored into all of our decision making processes. Whether big or small, all components of our business consider the environmental aspects of our decisions. In meetings, you will often hear employees ask questions along the lines of “how do we reduce scrap/waste?” and  “where can we source this material locally?” or  “do we have a way to recycle what is no longer needed/usable?” Questions like these highlight the fact that sustainability is critical to all of our processes to all our employees.

What are some of Inpro’s sustainability goals? 

1.Communicate environmental practices to our employees, customers, suppliers, & community

2.Develop products & processes to minimize adverse environmental impacts

3.Protect the environment by preventing pollution, conserving resources, & reducing waste

4.Comply or surpass environmental regulations and other requirements

5.Implement continual improvement

6.Achieve Zero Waste by 2025

Are there any sustainability practices at Inpro that might surprise customers? 

Inpro has a 15’x15’ raised garden bed located right across the street from our main building entrance. This garden is cared for by employees and has been lovingly referred to as our “salsa garden” because we grow all of the veggies necessary to make a homemade salsa. In 2022, our garden was composed of 30 plants and yielded a plentiful harvest that was available to, and shared with, all employees. The benefits of having this garden on our campus is that we support the local ecosystem, plants are beneficial to reducing global warming, employees get to go outside during their workday and destress with the garden, and employees can enjoy fresh veggies during harvest time.

We also have compost bins around our campus to limit the amount of food waste that enters our waste stream. Because we employ people full-time, we know that they will eat while at work – and with eating comes food waste. Rather than having this food waste go to the landfill, we offer compost collection to have food scraps turned into nutrient-rich soil. This prevents valuable organic material from wasting away in a landfill, and allows it to be transformed into something cherished by farmers & gardeners alike. 

What’s a sustainability initiative Inpro has that you are passionate about?

We have 2 beehives at our Muskego campus in an effort to support the local bee population. As many folks are aware, the bee population has declined rapidly in the past few decades. This has caused a lot of environmental concern because bees are incredibly important to the ecosystem and food supply. By having a space dedicated to bees, Inpro provides a sanctuary for bees to exist in our area. Our hives are cared for by a local beekeeper with many years of experience. She checks on the bees regularly to make sure they have enough food and are free of disease. An added benefit of our hives is that we can share the excess honey with our employees to enjoy! 

How do you incorporate sustainability on Inpro’s campus at the headquarters? 

When you look around our campus, you will see areas of standard grass (similar to most lawns in the US), but you will also notice a vast array of natural landscaping – also referred to as “greenscaping”. The idea of greenscaping is that instead of wiping out natural plants to lay down grass, you can use natural plants as a landscaping feature. The plants typically chosen for greenscaping are grasses and wildflowers that grow a couple feet tall and don’t require cutting for maintenance. The benefit of factoring greenscaping into our landscaping is that these plants tend to be drought-resistant (so they don’t require extra watering), they support pollination (from bees, butterflies, and moths), they provide shelter for small mammals, they encourage biodiversity, and they are aesthetically pleasing.  

What does the future of sustainability look like for manufacturing companies? 

TRANSPARENCY! For decades, sustainability in the manufacturing sector has been riddled with issues. From green-washing to uncertainty in the supply chain to lack of knowledge, true sustainability has been a major challenge for manufacturers. With the advance in technology and information sharing, manufacturers are now able to track and measure their sustainability goals – and share them externally with a new level of credibility. This data collection and documentation can typically be translated into certifications, which fully back-up a company’s sustainability claims. By being transparent with customers/consumers, a company is able to build trust and lasting relationships. Additionally, legislation for transparency is becoming much more stringent and if a business wants to continue its success, it must get onboard with being transparent with all things sustainability related.

Learn more about Inpro’s sustainability efforts here.


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