South African electrical equipment supplier Zest is being supported by holding company WEG of Brazil to raise the level of its environmentally-conscious behaviour.
Zest has served as WEG’s official distributor in the SADC region for more than three decades and the environmental principals followed by WEG have become second nature to the South African company. The acquisition of Zest by WEG last year has further cemented the shared approach to environmental issues.
Luiz Fernando Ribeiro of WEG was transferred to the South African subsidiary as project and operations director in September 2010 with a portion of his portfolio to assist Zest in attaining ISO 9001 certification. This has been achieved and Ribeiro is now providing assistance on the environmental front.
Ribeiro explains that as far back as 1969 WEG defined that it would function according to environmentally-conscious principles. “Not only has WEG ensured that it meets both national and international environmental requirements and codes of conduct, but it has gone one step further by conducting its own research and introducing its own policies,” he says.
WEG’s continued efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its activities resulted in it attaining ISO 14001 certification in 2001. “Our history of conservation, preservation and management of the environment confirms our belief that all natural resources used should be renewed,” Ribeiro says. “We follow a number of paths to minimise or eliminate the environmental impact of our industrial activities.”
All WEG employees and third party contractors are given strict instructions and training for the correct disposal and recycling of waste. The company also ensures that water supplies are clean and preserved by following a programme of reasonable use, recycling and the installation of effluent treatment plants.
“All water used in the industrialisation process is totally treated and has no adverse effect on the environment,” Ribeiro says.
In order to maintain the quality of air in the regions where it operates, WEG continually invests in the development of processes which minimise airborne pollution while adopting the latest technology to process unavoidable pollutants.
An example is the motor impregnation processes developed at the company’s coatings division use water-based varnishes which significantly reduce the emission of pollutants into the atmosphere. The company has also invested heavily in clean technologies which use natural gas as a fuel.
On the production front, WEG constantly invests in the modernisation and optimisation of its manufacturing processes so that they consume the minimum amount of energy possible.
In its iron foundries an estimated 90% of material used for castings is recycled, while the green sand used in the casting moulds is treated and recycled.
It has further invested in the environment by planting forests with the aim of providing a sustainable supply of materials without impacting on people and their surroundings. Since the 1970s WEG has calculated how best to manage the wood used for the manufacture of its pallets and packing crates. Also, it does not use any wood from unmanaged forests in its processes.
Ribeiro adds that not only can WEG be kind to the environment through ethical manufacturing processes, but also by continually improving the reliability and efficiency of its products.
“The long standing relationship with Zest means that its approach to environmental issues is already well aligned to that of WEG. The challenge now is to formalise its policies and processes on the path to environmental certification. It is just a matter of time before this happens,” Ribeiro says.