2014 Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence

Commissioner AhoMaine DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho speaks at the 2014 Environmental Excellence Awards ceremony at Vic Firth Company in Newport

Governor Paul R. LePage and Maine DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho honored four sustainability leaders with State-sponsored environmental achievement awards.

The 2014 Environmental Excellence awards, administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, were presented by Governor LePage and Commissioner Aho in a ceremony at Vic Firth Company, the world’s leading drumstick manufacturer based in Newport, Maine.

Senior staff from the Governor’s office and from Maine DEP, representatives from each of the winning organizations, members of the Board of Environmental Protection and the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee and leaders from Maine’s environment and business community attended the awards.

Recipients were recognized for voluntarily going beyond regulatory requirements for innovation in environmental sustainability.

Governor LePage said, “My Administration has worked hard to ensure that improving our environment goes hand-in-hand with a stronger economy. By recognizing and celebrating these employers who make the commitment to innovate, we show that investing in Maine produces environmental benefits. The 2014 recipients continue the tradition of Maine’s strong legacy of environmental excellence.”

Commissioner Aho said it was important for the State to acknowledge Maine’s many environmental leaders who are modeling her department’s vision of a mutually healthy environment and economy

“This year’s recipients show that both large investments and small changes pay off both economically and environmentally. The department is proud of the recipients who understand that a healthy environment and strong economy support one another and by stewarding our natural resources ensures a strong and stable economy. Today’s recipients know that when they both prosper, we all win.”

Texas Instruments, based in South Portland , won in the “Businesses Over 100 Employees” category for their three pronged commitment to environmental sustainability. Texas Instruments improved the Long Creek Watershed Management District by reducing its own impervious cover, installing biofilters therefore slowing down and filtering stormwater; reducing its chemical usage by 25 percent and held a three day electronic waste recycling event that collected over 9,800 lbs of e-waste.

“TI continuously strives to be a good environmental steward in every community where we operate. TI has a strong, proven history of investing in projects that protect and improve the environment. We are honored to be recognized for our efforts at our South Portland site and in the surrounding community,” said Texas Instruments Environment, Safety and Health Manger, Doris Hall.

Allagash Brewery, located in Portland, won in the “Businesses with 20-99 Employees” category for its wholehearted commitment to environmental responsibility and stewardship.  With its continued growth, Allagash recognized the need for a green approach to waste reduction and diversion strategies and made both significant investments and small changes to its business model and developed a metrics system to track its remarkable efforts.

"Sustainability is an important part of our core values and one way we demonstrate our commitment to our community. Our Green Team is comprised of staff members from all areas of the company who work together to implement sustainable practices wherever possible. Recently they have been able to tackle projects ranging from investment in metrics to track energy and water usage, to taking extra steps to find alternative outlets for nearly every by-product from the brewing process that would normally be thrown in the trash. Our team has worked very hard on our green initiatives and are very honored to have received this award," said Allagash Brewery founder and brewer Rob Tod.

The Lewiston-Auburn Pollution Control Authority won in “Local, State or Tribal Government” category. The Authority invested $14 million for an anaerobic digestion and co-generation facility for waste water solids at its Lewiston treatment facility decreasing the amount of solids and reducing electricity costs for ratepayers. This reduction allows for the Authority to accept waste water treatment solids from other facilities thus diverting that material from landfills. The Authority is using the methane gas produced as a by-product to make electricity from two turbine generators. As an added benefit the heat is used to warm the sludge within the digesters saving the Authority two thirds of its electrical costs. This was all done without a sewer rate increase and is expected to save the Authority money.

“The Lewiston-Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority is pleased to accept this Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. We believe that the Anaerobic Digestion facilities can serve to compliment economic growth in the Twin Cities by keeping our treatment costs low, providing an opportunity to process wastes such as sewer grease and food processing wastes that would otherwise be difficult to dispose of, and generating renewable power. In addition to cutting the volume of solids leaving our wastewater treatment facilities for composting or farm field applications and generating nearly half of the power needed to run the treatment plant, we expect to reduce greenhouse gasses from our solids handling programs by 80 percent,” said Authority Board Chairman Phil Nadeau.

Maine Water Environment Association (formerly the Maine Waste Water Control Association), won in the “Not-for-Profit” category for its “Save Your Pipes: Don’t Flush Baby Wipes” campaign with the Portland Water District and INDA, the national association of non-woven fabrics. The campaign raised awareness of an important environmental and economic problem facing the country’s waste water treatment facilities – the flushing of baby wipes. By creatively seeking a solution with a public, private partnership to a wide-spread concern, Maine is once again leading the way for environmental protection work.

"Maine WEA is very proud of this campaign which aimed to create awareness that flushing baby wipes damages the environment, municipal sewer systems, and individual plumbing and septic systems. The campaign is the culmination of several years' of work. Preliminary research indicates that the campaign's message was effective at changing consumer understanding and behavior. We're excited to work with wipes manufacturers- our partners- to share the campaign's tools with towns and utilities around the country to make a real difference," said MaineWEA Chair Aubrey Strause.

The awards were held at Vic Firth Company who has maintained the highest standards of environmental responsibility in manufacturing for many years. At their factory, water is recycled at a rate of 10,000 gallons per hour. Additionally, sawdust is collected and used as fuel to heat the factory.

“We are honored to host the 2014 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence Awards. The Vic Firth company fully commits to and understands the value of initiating innovative projects that sustainably steward our natural resources. We see the pay-off benefiting both environment and our bottom line. We are constantly seeking new opportunities for waste reduction and diversion strategies,” said Environmental, Safety & Health Coordinator Tom Gilbert.