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Business Operations

Operating on Sunshine: Sealed Air Invests Big in Solar

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For Sealed Air Corporation, the $1 million annual savings it will realize from its recent investment in an 11-acre solar farm is just a perk that goes along with doing what’s right.

Toward a goal: “We always have sustainability in mind with everything that we do, whether it is a new product or a new facility,” said Sealed Air President of the Americas Tobias Grasso. “We always ask, ‘What is this bringing to us?’ and ‘How is this advancing our mission to leave our world better than we found it?’ Because we have a stated goal to be net-zero carbon neutral in our operations by 2040, we want to make sure that all our investments are in line with that strategy.”

  • Earlier this year, a $9 million solar installation at Sealed Air’s Madera, California, manufacturing facility began generating electricity—at a rate capable of fulfilling 98% of the plant’s electricity needs, according to company calculations.
  • The solar farm is integrated into the legacy power system so that system has a backup energy source when needed.

The right site: Sealed Air, the maker of the iconic Bubble Wrap® original cushioning and numerous other automation, packaging and digital printing solutions, started making plans for the 8,975-solar-panel farm in 2020. It chose the Madera location as the site for several reasons.

  • “We have fairly extensive energy needs for that facility,” Grasso said. “And we had the available land and a good number of hours [of available sunlight] to provide the solar energy.”
  • The manufacturer partnered locally with a team from TotalEnergies—a French company that recently acquired SunPower Commercial and Industrial Solutions—on the project.

The impact: Though the company got its solar installation up and running in less than two years, its effect on the environment will be long-lasting and far-reaching.

  • The solar panels will prevent 5,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in just their first year in operation.
  • Over the course of 15 years, that’s the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent of driving 15,000 cars for one year, Grasso said.

Solar-power advice: Manufacturers with the right energy needs, land and daily hours of sunlight could benefit from investment in their own solar installations, according to Grasso.

“First, you have to look at the dimensionality of your power needs; you have to look at the economics,” he said. “It’s a good idea to have a partner like TotalEnergies because they can help you through their experience so you model it the right way.”

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