Andrew Welford, EP Minerals' Director of Commercial Sustainability
From Kansas to South Africa to Russia to Napa (and that's only in a few weeks), EP Minerals Director of Commercial Sustainability, Andrew Welford, is busy. He's helping our customers become more sustainable as they recycle and reuse their "used" diatomaceous earth filter aid. I interviewed Andrew about EP Minerals' commitment to sustainability and the incredible projects he's working on with our customers.
Q: Andrew, you’ve been managing lots of interesting sustainability projects and trials all around the world. It’s time we started to pay more attention to what you’re doing, don’t you think?
A: Oh, I don’t know. I’m just a farmer from England really. (Clarification: While Andrew is a farmer, he has spent many years in recycling, waste management, and renewable energy and has degrees in Agriculture)
Q: What exactly is sustainability?
A: The crux of sustainability and why it’s important is for all of us to be conscious of the fact that the decisions we make today have an impact on tomorrow. It’s about our kids. It’s about doing the right thing.
Q: How does that work in business?
A: Sustainability is just good environmental practice tied with the cost of operations. Through best practices, we can tie sustainability and profitability together. I know that sounds a bit like I’ve got my financial hat on, but it’s best to work with nature to achieve results.
Q: Why is there so much focus on sustainability these days?
A: We’ve all become more appreciative of the fact that the decisions we make can have an impact on others. In business, decisions we make can have an impact around the globe. Business is a long-term thing & companies are moving away from quick gratification. Decisions are not solely based on financials, even though that’s important. We’re learning that we really can make a difference.
Q. Tell me about your role and what you do?
A: In my role as director of commercial sustainability, I mostly provide information and increase awareness of what’s possible. I make people aware that sustainable recycling solutions are available, right where they live, for their type of business. I help them find sources and advise them on how to be sustainable. People are busy. They’re focused on their job, and they don’t always know what to do or have time to determine what’s possible. I help them look at other ways to do things, mostly with diatomaceous earth spent cake, whether that’s for composting, fertilizer, animal feed or some other uses that we’re testing.
Q: Are people generally surprised at the sustainable options?
A: I think people have a general knowledge of recycling but don’t know how their waste streams are recyclable. An independent source of information gives them the confidence to look at other routes to manage waste products to become sustainable. In working together with our customers, we’ve found some very interesting ways to take diatomaceous earth spent cake and recycle it in other ways.
Q: How is EP Minerals becoming more sustainable?
A: We’re primarily improving our efficiencies and technologies. We’ve always been sustainable, but haven’t called it that. We’ve called it good practices and didn’t talk about it much. At our mines, we have ongoing reclamation efforts; we’re generating wildlife habitats and re-vegetation efforts. At our plants, we’re working to reduce our carbon footprint.
Q: What is EP Minerals doing today to help our customers?
A: We supply products to numerous business sectors so there are multiple kinds of spent cake we can recycle – animal feed, land applications, aggregates, absorbents. Our ultimate goal is reuse of the spent cake, which we’re making great progress on with many different customers. In the US, I work to identify waste management options and customer side options to determine the best solutions.
Q: What else would you like our customers to know?
A: That I’d love a fine cup of coffee when I come to visit them! Seriously, everyone needs to be ready to embrace sustainability. We’re all in this together. For the business side of the company, it has to be financially viable. Sustainability is based on capitalism; it doesn’t work otherwise. No matter what everyone says, they do want to recycle and do the right thing. It's a community-based thing. We help customers minimize their carbon footprint; we keep the products local and the money local. It’s all tied together, and we all realize the impact it has on our community and the local economy.
To learn more about Andrew’s efforts with DE spent cake, check out these case studies:
Recycling DE spent cake from filtration into fertilizer: http://blog.epminerals.com/recycling-diatomaceous-earth-spent-cake-from-filtration-into-a-fertilizer
Recycling DE spent cake at Sonoma Compost: http://blog.epminerals.com/recycling-diatomaceous-earth-spent-cake-at-sonoma-compost
If you’d like to have Andrew Welford talk to you about your company’s sustainability program and diatomaceous earth spent cake, please contact your sales representative.