Roscoe Blog

The Chicago Uniform Company Looks Back on its History of Sustainability

Jim Buik - Friday, March 20, 2015

Roscoe Company Chicago-Work-Uniforms-Laundry-Service

The arrival of spring brings warmer weather, brighter colors, longer days and sweeter smells. It is also a time to reflect on Roscoe's effect on the environment and efforts to keep it as beautiful as possible. The uniform services company has always been committed to conserving and recycling natural resources and we pride ourselves in our history of environmentally friendly laundering. Follow through the years with us!

In 1921, founder George Buik was a "gate waiter." He waited at factory gates, taking home workers' clothes to clean and bring them back early the next morning. In 1925, Buik revolutionized the industry and set up a foundation of sustainability by owning the clothes and renting them to workers.

Cloth rags were a scarce resource not to be wasted, so the uniform company added cleaning shop towels to their sustainable product line in the mid 1920s. Just like uniforms, Roscoe transitioned the market from customer-owned goods to Roscoe owning the textiles, renting and cleaning them on a weekly basis.

In the 1950s, mat company continued to add to its reusable textile rental product line with the addition of floor mats and dust mops offering a more efficient way of cleaning and reducing the negative environmental impact of disposable products.

With the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, second generation owner Don Buik partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and both trade associations to install the nation's first wastewater treatment system in a commercial laundry. Since then, the Chicago mat company has held the longest running compliance record of any laundry in the nation with the MWRD (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District), who conducts semi-annual compliance testing.

Third generation owner, Jim Buik, testifies to Congress on behalf of the industry on the proper handling of re-usable shop and print towels in the 1990s, which codified industry best practices for these product lines and set the EPA on the path to the Shop Towel Rule, adopted in 2013. The ruling considers disposable rags and paper products as hazardous as the waste they are used to wipe up, citing the benefits of using reusables as a way to conserve natural resources, while also performing better.

This laundry service received the Governor's Pollution Prevention Award in 1999 for reductions in water usage and solid waste reduction initiatives.

In 2009, Roscoe goes even further with water and chemical consumption by consolidating and modernizing the facility. With the project came the installation of a new boiler, a stack economizer and a DAF water treatment system resulting in a 37% reduction in water consumption, 25% reduction in chemical consumption and a 29% reduction of natural gas consumption.

Creating one of the most sustainable operations in the nation led to being awarded the inaugural TRSA (Textile Rental Services Association) LaundryESP Innovation Award in 2011. The award recognizes novel approaches by companies and/or facilities to increase sustainability, conserve natural resources and reduce the operation's overall environmental impact.

The uniform services company became Clean Green Certified in 2012 for our Best Management Practices of water reuse, reclamation and removal and green efforts throughout our plant and outside of the plant. Some of these include the use of T8 fluorescent lights with motion sensors and skylights, the recycling of hangers, cardboard boxes and pallets, the use of linen laundry bags instead of plastic disposable bags and the use of Route Optimization software that reduces mileage and fleet fuel consumption.

In 2015, we installed LED lights in production areas, which will help us reduce kilowatts consumed for lighting by over 40%. LEDs typically use 25-80% less energy and last 3-25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, in addition to the countless benefits it provides in worker safety and productivity.

With an eye on the future, the Chicago uniform company has two projects on the drawing board to enhance our sustainability. The first involves solid waste reduction by de-watering liquid sludge and the second focuses on additional water recycling.

We are excited to do our utmost in operating in the most sustainable manner. If you would like to learn more about our best practices or would like to come in for a tour contact a uniform services representative today.

Contact us to learn more about Roscoe: The Chicago Work Uniform Company


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