In the last year, employees at Specialty Granules LLC‘s Corporate Headquarters and Tech Center have been thirsty for a good cause. And, it’s shown in the more than 25,000 water bottle reuses they’ve logged in the pursuit of refilling their cups to Fill it Forward.
“Participation in this initiative was started from a desire to help the environment,” explained SGI President Justin P. Dunlap. “The Fill it Forward program allows us to do that significantly, while also providing the opportunity to make a charitable impact.”
The concept of the program is simple: keep single-use water bottles out of landfills and oceans and, in using the Fill it Forward smartphone app to scan a barcode unique to SGI each time a reusable water bottle is refilled, donate funds to a charitable cause.
Through SGI’s effort of 25,111 bottle reuses and counting, more than 400 lbs of waste were diverted from landfills and close to 80 lbs of ocean pollution was prevented. In addition, SGI is able to donate a water cistern with Fill it Forward charitable partner DIG DEEP to a Navajo Nation home, providing a family with access to clean water.
According to Fill it Forward, approximately one in 10 people live without access to clean water and 1.8 billion people drink from contaminated water sources worldwide.
“The more refills SGI collectively logs, the fewer single-use plastic bottles will end up in the ocean or landfills — and, the more people we can help provide ready access to much-needed clean water,” Dunlap added. “The effort may seem small, but it has a real and lasting effect that extends far beyond the walls of our offices.”
More than 55 employees are based out of SGI’s Hagerstown locations and piloted the Fill it Forward program, which will be expanded to include SGI’s five remaining nationwide locations in the coming year.
Other Green Initiatives
SGI has focused on several other green initiatives at each of its locations over the last few years, including the elimination of plastic waste at corporate headquarters, energy conservation efforts, reseeding work, and installation of solar arrays to help power operations.
“SGI is committed to being a good steward of our environment,” said Dunlap.
SGI’s Ione, California, facility in Fall 2020 was a Gold Award recipient of the National Sand, Stone, and Gravel Association’s Environmental Excellence Awards.
The site installed its first 2,250.0 kW solar array in 2017, which has reduced greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2,090 tons — an equivalent of planting 5,945 trees. An additional solar array has been installed and SGI is working with the utility provider to bring it online later this year.
Each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar power generated will continue to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide, as well as other dangerous pollutants such as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.
Perhaps the most impactful way SGI is seeking to help the environment is with a byproduct of its roofing granule production.
It’s theorized that the byproduct — metabasalt rock “fines” — have the potential to support healthy crops and increase yields while also capturing CO2 and NOx from the atmosphere.
In early 2020, SGI partnered with the University of California, Davis, by donating 400 tons of the fines for research on the crushed volcanic rock. While study outcomes are not yet available, early data is promising.
“If findings from the three-year study show these ‘fines’ are as powerful as we suspect in supporting healthy crops while helping the environment, it could be game-changing,” said Dunlap.