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Do green platers really see a business benefit?

Burt and participants in P2Tech,
The short answer is "no".  At least, the exceptions are so rare as to prove the rule.  The problem is that most "green" plating (and I include here water conservation, energy conservation, improved use of compressed air, optimized waste treatment, and improved management systems and process controls, along with the obvious "eliminate cyanide" type options) is in the process, with the benefits accruing to reduced costs directly or indirectly, or improved risk management.  The product itself is rarely more "green" (substitutes for cadmium and lead being notable, and mature, counter-examples).  So saying that because you are a "green" plater a customer should use you is almost, but not quite, now at the level of saying, "Hey, look, we don't cheat on our taxes!"  It is smart business, but poor PR.
We are working on two projects to build green plating facilities, one in China and one in Mexico, that will be as "green" as possible (while still using cyanide-based solutions for some steps) and that will be competitive in terms of costs with "non-green" facilities within the "mother" firms.  And it is not because of cheaper labor, special tax breaks, etc.  New plating operations now incorporate many great ideas we have known about for years that, unfortunately, only clear investment hurdles as greenfield choices.  Retro-fits need not apply.  And calling it "green" is now just one more punch on the supplier's ticket required by more and more customers.  For the same money.
Terry Foecke
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, August 24, 2007 1:18 PM
Subject: [Norton AntiSpam] Do green platers really see a business benefit?

Hello Techsters.  I have not done any P2 work with plating companies for years and hope some of you can offer a response to this person.  I will compile responses to the list or to me directly and provide a digest later.  Thanks,
Burton Hamner
Cleaner Production International LLC

From: Donna Gordon [mailto:dgordon@investmentresources.biz]
Sent: Friday, August 24, 2007 11:10 AM
To: sales@cleanerproduction.com
Subject: Info request

Mr. Hamner

I am working with a metal plating operation in the midwest who is facing stagnant sales and looking for new approaches to growing his business.  One area I have discussed is promoting that his shop is fully environmentally compliant (much of his decline in business is due to business lost to 3rd world countires with little or no environmental restrictions).  His opinion is that his customers do not care about the environmental impact, they are focused on cost and quality only.   I understand from your website that you work with plating companies to improve environmental peformance.  Do you find that this provides them with a marketing edge with their customer base, or are most benefits tied to lower costs, less risk of fines, etc.   I have provided your information as part of the report, and am interested in any additional feedback you have.  I appreciate your time and consideration.




Donna Gordon
Investment Resources
Business Success Through Research and Planning
816-304-7958 phone