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BATO receives environmental honors

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Two Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO) facilities and a retired BATO plant manager were each recognized for environmental initiatives by state agencies and environmental organizations.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources recognized the BATO plant in Wilson, N.C., as an environmental steward; the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control awarded the BATO plant in Aiken County, S.C., the 2010 DHEC Earth Day Award for Large Businesses; and Ron Brooks, recently retired plant manager at the BATO facility in Warren County, Tenn., was named Community Servant Leader of the Year at the Green Business Summit at Lipscomb University.

“Each of these is a major honor that illustrates how seriously our facilities and co-workers are committed to environmental stewardship,” says Tim Bent, director of environmental affairs for Bridgestone Americas Inc., BATO’s parent company. The awards represent efforts for Bridgestone Group’s global “One Team, One Planet” initiative.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recognized the BATO plant in Wilson as an Environmental Steward, the highest level of achievement in the state’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative.

With the honor, the Wilson plant becomes one of just 14 organizations in North Carolina to be named an Environmental Steward. In order to be selected as a Steward in the program, an organization must undergo a rigorous review by DENR staff and an Environmental Stewardship Initiative Advisory Board composed of representatives from large and small businesses, nongovernmental organizations, public agencies, military organizations and academia.

The Advisory Board was particularly impressed by the Wilson facility’s solid waste reduction efforts and outreach to the local community through the 300-acre Freedom Wildlife Habitat and Refuge.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) recognized the BATO plant in Aiken County with the 2010 DHEC Earth Day Award for Large Businesses.

In presenting the Earth Day Award, DHEC acknowledged the Aiken County facility’s environmental initiatives and achievements. As part of the global Bridgestone Group’s “One Team, One Planet” program, the Aiken County facility:

* Voluntarily eliminated Indirect Hazardous Air Pollutants from its manufacturing process.

*Implemented innovative manufacturing operations that, compared to similar manufacturing facilities, release 130 fewer tons of Volatile Organic Compound emissions each year.

* Converted 26 formerly battery-powered forklifts to hydrogen fuel cell power and transitioned other diesel-powered maintenance equipment to 20 percent bio-diesel fuels.

* Regularly hosts environmental education events for student groups.

* Designated preferred parking for co-workers who carpool, ride motorcycles or drive hybrid vehicles.

And Ron Brooks, the recently retired plant manager at the BATO facility in Warren County, was named Community Servant Leader of the Year at the Waste Management Green Business Leadership Awards ceremony, part of the 2010 Green Business Summit at Lipscomb University.

Brooks was honored for his work in leading the implementation of the Bridgestone Environmental Education Classroom & Habitat (BEECH), a program that provides young people with hands-on environmental education opportunities at the plant.

In addition, the award recognized Brooks’ efforts with Project Hayride, an initiative that brought 1.5 million pounds of hay to local drought-stricken farmers in the summer of 2007. Brooks’ work to establish 10 local free air stations to help drivers maintain proper tire inflation was also noted. These air stations have been used more than 80,000 times since their introduction in late 2007.

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