Hoosiers Have Been Working to Clear the Air

Hoosiers Have Been Working to Clear the Air

The push toward decarbonization has been gaining a lot of traction in Indiana as more companies take on new policies or projects intended to reduce emissions. Several surprising announcements have been revealed over the last few months that highlight the broad scope of activity that different organizations have been performing.


New Steel Neighbor Sets Carbon Target

Just a few weeks after Ohio-based steelmaker Cleveland-Cliffs announced the purchase of ArcelorMittal USA, which includes Northwest Indiana operations, the company released details about its plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030. Cleveland-Cliffs said that it will be reducing direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions on a mass basis, meaning by metric tons per year.

To achieve this, the company is focusing on five strategic priorities:

  • Developing domestically-sourced, high-quality iron ore feedstock and utilizing natural gas in the production of hot briquetted iron.
  • Implementing energy efficiency and green energy projects.
  • Investing in the development of carbon capture technology.
  • Enhancing greenhouse gas emissions transparency and sustainability focus.
  • Supporting public policies that facilitate carbon reduction in the domestic steel industry.

“We at Cleveland-Cliffs acknowledge that one of the most important issues impacting our planet is climate change,” said Lourenco Goncalves, chairman, president, and CEO at Cleveland-Cliffs. “The American steel industry is one of the cleanest and most energy efficient in the world, and therefore the utilization of steel made in the USA is a decisively positive move to protect the planet against massive pollution embedded in the steel produced in other countries.”


Hot Chocolate Packaging Lowers Carbon Footprint

It’s not always the product or the manufacturing processes that needs to change to reduce carbon emissions. Sometimes a large amount of emissions can be cut by altering the product’s packaging.

Such was the case with the Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa line from Chicago-based Conagra Brands. The packaged foods company partnered with Evansville-based Berry Global, a maker of plastic packaging products, to develop a more efficient packaging design.

Berry Global’s Blue Clover Studios developed a container made of recyclable plastic with a wraparound in-mold label and a space-efficient tapered cube design. This reduces the carbon footprint associated with manufacturing and transporting the hot cocoa containers by 15 percent.

The design reduces the package’s carbon footprint by 98 metric tons each year due to less energy required to manufacture and transport the material. This is equivalent to avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions of driving a passenger vehicle 243,176 miles, which is further than the average distance from the Earth to the moon. The new shape also allows Conagra to better utilize space in transit, saving more than 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually from fewer truck loads transporting plastic tubs.

Conagra Brands intends to make 100% of its plastic packaging renewable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.


From Coal Plant to Butterfly Habitat

In Logansport, one of the clearest examples of transformative decarbonization has taken place. Electricity that once came from a coal-fired plant will now be generated by an eco-friendly solar array that will also be home to a bee and butterfly habitat.

Logansport Municipal Utility (LMU) worked with South Bend-based Inovateus Solar to construct an 80-acre, 16 megawatt (MW AC) solar installation that will produce enough energy to power about 3,700 homes. It is the first solar project for LMU and it was financed by a power purchase agreement (PPA) from Alchemy Renewable Energy.

For over 120 years, the city has relied on an LMU coal-fired power plant that was recently retired. The 30-year PPA allows LMU to purchase the clean solar generation at a fixed kilowatt-hour rate with no upfront capital costs. The contract also includes options for LMU to buy the solar energy system at a future date.

A pollinator seed mix is planted under and around the solar panels instead of traditional ground cover. This mix will cultivate honeybees and butterflies that local farmers rely on for pollinating their crops.


More to Come

These are only a few examples of ways that Hoosier entities have been cutting carbon emissions. There are many more, including major projects from utility providers, manufacturers, and universities. Efforts have taken on lots of different forms, many of them innovative, all as part of an overall effort to clean up the air and improve business efficiency. It’s safe to assume we’ll be seeing lots of interesting new projects along these lines for years to come.