22 Jun American Snuff Co., Memphis: The Business of Being Sustainable
American Snuff Company, an indirect subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc. (NYSE: RAI), is the nation’s second largest manufacturer of smokeless tobacco products, with Grizzly and Kodiak leading the way. Closing in on a 90% diversion rate to the landfill, American Snuff Company of Memphis fully embraces the concept of a circular economy; new ground for most industries in the United States.
“We realize the closer we come to being a zero-waste company, the more effort and commitment it will take,” said Jaimie Bright, Lead Manager of the Environmental Health and Safety group with American Snuff.
In recent years, American Snuff Company of Memphis has become one of the most sustainable industries in Tennessee. For American Snuff, this commitment to a sustainable business model presents a welcome challenge. Most companies accept that production waste is a part of business and while most try to minimize the waste or find an outlet for it, not many will go the distance, literally, like American Snuff.
“We had almost 20 tons of tobacco production waste a month that we had no real sustainable outlet for,” said Quincey Young, Senior Scientist at American Snuff, “but we were determined to find the most beneficial re-use we could.”
Tobacco waste, as it turns out, is an excellent source of nitrogen which makes it a welcome addition to compost production. The nearest compost facility capable of using that much tobacco was The Compost Company LLC, in Ashland Company just over 200 miles away. “The sustainability team decided it was worth the drive,” said Jaimie Bright.
Composting is just one of many sustainability commitments that American Snuff has made recently. The facility’s HVAC system was another challenge they tackled. The sustainability team found and purchased a water treatment system that would allow water to be circulated through the cooling towers several more times before fresh water had to be added.
The system, produced by Flozone Services, has saved nearly 2 million gallons of fresh water and 34,000 kWh in energy to date. “We were proud to be able to use a Tennessee company for this project,” said Quincey Young.
American Snuff Company has been a champion for Tennessee sustainability in many ways. Recently the company has been a proponent of a new initiative from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation: the Tennessee Materials Marketplace.
The Tennessee Materials Marketplace will be a collaboration between industries, facilitated by an interactive online materials exchange, to recycle, repurpose, and return material discards back to Tennessee’s economy. American Snuff Company learned of the marketplace initiative through its membership in the Tennessee Green Star Partnership.
The sustainability team at American Snuff has always found their membership quite valuable. “The recent summer series of Sustainable Industry Workshops helped us network and learn from other industry members,” said Jamie Bright. “The topics covered were perfect for the challenges in sustainability we are facing every day.”
The Tennessee Green Star Partnership is a voluntary environmental leadership program designed to recognize industries in the state that are committed to sustainable practices.