Original Date: 02/23/1998
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Material Substitutions, Volatile Organic Compounds, and Air Toxics Reductions
In 1990, Northrop Grumman set a Corporate goal to reduce or eliminate air toxics and volatile organic compounds, and find environmentally-friendly (green) material substitutions for its manufacturing facilities. The company’s reduction goal was realized on schedule. As part of this process, 80% of sealants used by Northrop Grumman were delisted to non-hazardous classification, resulting in a $230,000 cost savings for purchasing and disposal.
In 1990, Northrop Grumman set a Corporate goal to reduce or eliminate air toxics and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and find environmentally-friendly (green) material substitutions for its manufacturing facilities in El Segundo, Pico Rivera, Palmdale, and Hawthorne. Figure 2-4 shows that the company’s 90% reduction goal was realized far ahead of its 1996 deadline. As part of this process, 80% of sealants used by Northrop Grumman were delisted to non-hazardous classification, resulting in a $230,000 cost savings for purchasing and disposal.
The Los Angeles Basin area, home to Northrop Grumman’s facilities, historically has had the worst air quality in the Nation. The State of California and the EPA addressed this problem by tasking the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) with regulation of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and establishment of VOC emission standards. Through its forward thinking approaches like the 1990 Corporate goal, Northrop Grumman was able to meet SCAQMD’s pollutant reduction mandates. The company designed and developed better control equipment (e.g., portable air pollution capture systems; High Efficiency Particulate Arrester [HEPA] filters on spray booths) and modified various processes to improve its coating application techniques including the high volume, low pressure (HVLP) spray gun (now the industry standard paint gun) and the specialty paint gun system for hard to reach areas. Through joint industry working groups, the company also adopted new environmental technologies from other aerospace companies. Another part of Northrop Grumman’s overall initiative was its material substitution efforts and its reduction of HAPs and VOCs. The aqueous degreaser system, designed and developed in-house, eliminated vapor degreasers and some alkaline cleaners. Low chromium, cyanide-free conversion coating not only eliminates cyanide, but drastically reduces chromium in the process. Other processes that helped achieve the Corporate goal were the automated paint mixing system for touch-ups; electrostatic/powder coating process; on- demand paint mixing; two-component paint dispensing systems; paint gun solvent recovery system; and Work In Process (WIP) cans. All played a part in the 77% reduction of air toxics which the company attained in 1995.
Reducing hazardous waste, as well as employee and community exposure to these materials, are part of Northrop Grumman’s philosophy. The company notes that it uses innovation and technology to find solutions to environmental challenges as the need to assume greater responsibility for the environment becomes increasingly important. Through its forward thinking and proactive environmental approaches, Northrop Grumman operates as a responsible company and a good neighbor to the surrounding community.
Figure 2-4. Air Toxics and VOC Reductions
For more information see the
Point of Contact for this survey.