Additive manufacturing helps Eaton achieve zero landfill waste

American multinational power management company Eaton Corporation has recognized additive manufacturing as a valuable method for achieving Zero Waste to Landfill (ZWTL) status for a number of its sites.

Eaton’s ZWTL initiative involves reuse, recycling, composting, and waste incineration for energy generation. Thus far, approximately 148 of its sites have achieved ZWTL status. The company aims to convert all facilities to this certification by 2030. 

3D printed parts from Eaton. Photo via Eaton.
3D printed parts from Eaton. Photo via Eaton.

Eaton’s Zero Waste to Landfill initiative

The concept of ZWTL is to prevent any waste material being disposed to a landfill, facilitating a circular economy. Presently, Eaton’s hose manufacturing plant in Cerkezkoy, Turkey, has reduced its total landfill waste was reduced from 21 percent to zero in four years. This was achieved by its energy recovery incineration process which converts rubber hose edge waste to usable energy. A bio-digestion and methane recovery system is also being used in Cerkekoy to convert cafeteria waste to renewable energy. At Eaton in Brierly Hill, UK, an Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) has been established to reduce plastic marine debris from manufacturing.

With Eaton’s growing involvement in additive manufacturing for the aerospace sector, its waste reduction capabilities are also being considered. As stated in Eaton’s 2018 Sustainability report, “Rather than traditional methods of manufacturing, largely based on subtractive manufacturing or forming, additive manufacturing has the potential to decrease waste and scrap from the production process by putting material only where it’s needed.”

An existing Eaton hydro-electric plant. Photo via Eaton.

Additive manufacturing and Eaton

In 2016, Eaton established an Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Southfield, Michigan. This facility earned AS9100 Rev D certification in 2018, validating a comprehensive quality system for providing safe and reliable metal 3D printed aerospace products to civil and military customers. According to the report, such components are also promoting sustainable and energy-efficient manufacturing, “Our products help customers and partners efficiently use and conserve resources, provide reliable access to energy and a safe living and working environment.”

“Around the world,” the company continues, “our teams are actively engaged in programs that reduce our own waste and carbon dioxide emissions and optimize our use of energy, raw materials and natural resources.”

Most recently, Eaton joined the Lighting Research Center (LRC) of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute consortium to explore the potential of 3D printing for sustainable, solid-state lighting, and components for building, and construction. Still, the report continues, “A better understanding of the data surrounding waste management is giving organisations a wider scope when it comes to managing their business resources.”

“Many are at least embarking on the journey towards zero waste to landfill, a journey that not only delivers corporate and environmental responsibility, but can actually reduce business costs associated with disposal and generate revenue from recyclables.”

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Featured image shows 3D printed parts from Eaton. Photo via Eaton.