At Aurora Specialty Textiles Group, sustainability is more than a good idea. In addition to winning recognition in 2019 from the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) for multiple sustainability measures engineered into the operations of the company’s plant, Aurora is also reaching into the local community to help inspire other companies to go green.
The company’s plant engineer, Kevin Shroba, is leading that effort; in addition to making sure Aurora stays on track with the plant’s comprehensive ISO 14001 Environmental Management System plan, he recently helped Aurora qualify for the Yorkville Chamber of Commerce’s Green Business Designation program.
Called Green Connect, the program recognizes companies that are taking serious steps to integrate sustainability into daily business practices and operations. According to materials from the Yorkville Chamber of Commerce, a Green Business is defined as “an organization that is conscientious about the impact of their practices and takes steps to reduce its consumption of natural resources and waste.” To qualify, local companies must fill out a lengthy questionnaire and pass a detailed assessment of their sustainability efforts. At Aurora, this included a description of the multiple steps the company has taken to reduce chemical use, energy consumption and overall waste.
Leading the charge
Shroba managed the Chamber’s Green Business Designation application process for Aurora and has since become involved in the Chamber’s Green Business program on behalf of the company.
Other activities involve all of the plant’s employees. Before the holidays, for example, Shroba organized a plastic bag collection program that involved the entire staff. Working together, employees collected hundreds of plastic grocery bags, which were donated to the Kendall County Community Food Pantry.
“The Food Pantry goes through about 1,000 bags every week,” Shroba said. “So, we set up two collection spots and are continuing to collect bags for the pantry throughout the year.”
In 2019 he also led efforts at the plant to divert solid waste from local landfills, which involved improved single-stream recycling of paper, plastic, and glass. Aluminum cans were sorted separately so the money collected could be donated to a charity chosen by the employees.
Aurora also partnered with an alternative fuel company on a special project in 2019 to convert scrap textiles and packaging materials to fuel. While the project didn’t prove feasible for the long term, Aurora was able to divert more than 40 tons of solid waste from the landfill in 2019 through that program. Alternative options are being explored for 2020.
Shroba is on the Valley Industrial Associations’ (VIA) Spark Awards steering committee, helping that organization develop criteria for its sustainability award, and recently led a workshop for the VIA designed to help other manufacturing companies enhance their sustainability programs.
“Aurora is continuously looking for ways to save energy, recycle, reduce our use of resources and practice good environmental stewardship,” said Marcia Ayala, president of Aurora Specialty Textiles Group. “Kevin has done a great job leading the efforts and getting our employees involved in the process.”
About Aurora Specialty Textiles Group
Aurora Specialty Textiles Group Inc. is a global leader in coating, dyeing and finishing of both woven and nonwoven fabrics. Based in Yorkville, Ill., USA, the company has a 137-year tradition of innovation, and in 2015 invested in a new state-of-the-art, wide-width coating and finishing line, and a new facility that dramatically expanded its ability to serve customers. Products include digitally-printable textiles, specialty home products, tape-backing products and technical textiles for a wide variety of industries. Aurora is a Meridian Industries Inc. company and ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified. For more information, visit www.auroratextiles.com.