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RACINE COUNTY — Waxdale is SC Johnson’s largest manufacturing plant worldwide — and it generally requires no outside electrical energy to operate.

It’s an amazing feat considering the enormity of the plant, and a good example of how the consumer products company works to use renewable energies where it does business.

To fully appreciate that Waxdale, 8311 16th St., on average supplies all of its electricity, consider:

Waxdale’s buildings, which stretch along Willow Road, total 2.2 million square feet, or about the size of 36 football fields.

The plant can manufacture 6,000 to 8,400 12-bottle cases of liquid products per shift. And it operates on three shifts at least five days a week.

SCJ says Waxdale is the largest and fastest single-site aerosol producer in the world, manufacturing 430 million aerosol cans yearly.

The plant’s biggest source of electricity is methane from the nearby Kestrel Hawk Landfill. Since the mid-2000s, SCJ has been burning that methane in two large cogeneration turbines to supply about 85 percent of Waxdale’s electrical needs.

Before that, the gas was just flared, wasted as an energy source.

Wind, sun and shells

SCJ took the next big step toward meeting Waxdale’s energy needs in December 2012 when it commissioned two new 415-foot wind turbines. They are the largest company-owned wind turbine manufacturing project in the Midwest, SCJ states.

In their first year of operation, SCJ says, those turbines produced nearly 8 million kilowatts of electricity, or enough to power about 700 homes for a year. They now supply the other 15 percent of Waxdale’s electrical needs.

Over the past decade, SCJ has undertaken 10 renewable-energy initiatives around the globe, according to company spokeswoman Jam Stewart.

“As we’ve evaluated various renewable projects,” she said, “we have found that for us, wind power is often the best option, enabling us to achieve our goals as well as being the most commercially viable option.”

SCJ’s other wind power applications include:

A wind-energy purchase in Bay City, Michigan, where SCJ makes Ziploc. The company increased its wind power last year by 50 percent so that wind power now provides 67 percent of that site’s electricity.

SCJ’s newest initiative, a wind power purchase in Toluca, Mexico, will enable the facility to get 86 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

{/ul}In some situations, SCJ also takes energy from other renewable sources. For example, in Medan, Indonesia, it burns waste palm oil shells to heat water. The company said that reduces local diesel use by 80 percent, gaining value from a waste product.

And solar projects in Shanghai provide hot water for several company operations.

With those sorts of efforts to reduce fossil fuel use, SCJ says it is on track to meet its five-year goal for 2016 of sourcing 33 percent of its global energy from renewable sources.

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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