Many manufacturers and consumers have recently taken it upon themselves to approach the free market in an environmentally-conscious manner. They have developed an awareness of how their business and buying decisions affect the world around, striving for conservation and sustainability.
This is a relatively new endeavor for most. Not Confer Plastics. We have a long history of supporting green practices.
Environmentalism is our culture
Environmentalism starts at the top at Confer Plastics.
The company’s co-founder and CEO, Doug Confer, is a steward of the land. He was raised on a farm in rural upstate New York where he gained an appreciation for the land and the plants and creatures that thrive upon it. It’s an appreciation that he carries with him to this day: He still lives on that spread and, through the years, has developed it into a wildlife haven where he maintains woodlots and pastures. He has also built three large ponds which are frequented by all sorts of rare migrating birds.
His son, Bob, has followed a similar path. He, too, has a keen interest in the environment. His first job was as the Nature Director at the Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Dittmer. He has aided various programs in the mapping and tracking of birds, reptiles and amphibians in New York State and he has led many elementary school students on nature walks. Bob writes a weekly nature column for the Wellsville Sun called “Exploring the Western New York Wilds” — each week it highlights a specific animal, plant, hiking trail or natural attraction. In recent years, he has maintained a very popular daily social media post (#Nature365) in which he shares a photo and facts about local plants and animals. Bob owns a track of wild forest in the Allegheny Mountains of New York that is carefully managed to support its own diverse and fragile ecosystem that includes orchids, boreal songbirds, bears, and salamanders.
This is a mindset that the Confers have applied to their business. They have instituted a consistent, concerted effort to minimize their environmental impact.
We operate clean facilities
You’ll notice upon arriving at our facilities — which are just a stone’s throw away from the mighty Niagara River — that both of our tidy complexes are surrounded by woods and our headquarters is home to a marsh. These sites have become virtual refuges for animals of all sorts as they are the few woodlots in the city and residential areas in which we are located. It’s not uncommon to see deer, coyotes, hawks, herons, and songbirds of all sorts at our factory, right in the city limits.
Those facilities are cleaner than what people typically might envision. When someone hears “manufacturing” they think smokestacks and billowing clouds of smoke. Not at Confer Plastics. We don’t have smokestacks, nor do we put pollutants into the air. We have a clean and safe process that meets all state and federal emission standards.
We focus on containing nurdles
One threat posed to the environment by the plastics industry is the potential exposure to “nurdles” or beads of raw plastic material. These pellets can escape at the time of delivery and end up in stormwater overflows, finding their way into local watersheds. We have a system in place and have made significant investments to keep these resin losses in check. Our strategies are similar to best practices and programs like Operation Clean Sweep used by other plastics companies. Our material containment handbook can be downloaded via the link at the bottom of this page.
We utilize clean energy
Our operations are powered by clean energy. We don’t have solar panels or windmills, but most of our power comes from the Niagara Power Project that uses the Niagara River to create hydroelectricity. It’s among the cleanest energy sources in the US – no coal, no nuclear, no natural gas – just the power of Mother Nature herself. We have practices in place that minimize waste of that precious energy by conserving energy and investing in state-of-the-art capacitors and equipment.
We don’t make products that go into landfills
We do a lot to conserve materials. All of our plastic scrap is used in-house. It doesn’t go to a landfill. We closely monitor the usage of this material (called “regrind”) to ensure that there is none left over. Any regrind that is left over is used on a few jobs that can consume all of it.
Unlike many products on the marketplace, all of our goods are manufactured with long-term UV additives which ensure they do not fade or become brittle because of the sun’s rays. We don’t want our products in a dump because of poor quality. We want them – and expect them – to last a lifetime.
The material used in our products is high density polyethylene and the compounds used to color them are free of heavy metals, ensuring their recyclability if you planned to dispose of your product…which we hope you don’t.
Confer Plastics does not manufacture commodity or disposable items. We don’t make any bottles or single use items. We manufacture only durable goods of the highest integrity. Disposables are so antithetical to who we are that many times we have had an informational booth set-up at Niagara University’s Earth Day event, at which we discuss the woes of microbeads, plastic bags, and water bottles while educating students on what can be done to recycle or adjust personal and collective behaviors.
We maintain nighthawk nesting sites on our property
The common nighthawk is a bird that is anything but common. The bird, which feeds at dusk, has seen its population decline dramatically as construction and maintenance in cities and villages has seen a change from gravel rooftops to rubberized and metal roofs (the gravel once provided their nests). It’s believed the nighthawk population has dropped 75% over the past 50 years in New York and many ornithologists think the bird should be classified as endangered.
To help these birds grow or maintain their population, we’ve lent them a hand – in two locations on our factory we have nighthawk nesting sites. These collections of gravel atop the building provide nighthawks a safe site in which to raise their young.
Our products benefit the environment
Many of those products that we produce for our clients have a special relationship to the environment. We have manufactured the following custom items…
- Various styles of plastic gourds that are used to house purple martins, birds that have evolved to become totally dependent on human assistance in nesting
- A floating/suspended breakwater the environmental benefits of which far exceed a standard break wall
- Floats that are used to suspend the nets that collect oceanic oil spills
- Compost tumblers
- Vessels that are used to hold compressed natural gas, allowing fleet vehicles to switch over from diesel
- Sonobuoys that are used to listen to and track whales and dolphins
- The kayaks we manufacture get families on the water to explore and experience wild space
Our charity encourages positive use of the environment
Confer Plastics has a long history of giving to causes that support education and access to the outdoors:
- For years, we have run the Confer Plastics Classic golf tournament the proceeds of which are donated to the Boy Scouts of America. The typical earnings are $15,000 per year. Most of the funds have been used to improve Camp Dittmer, which gives young scouts access to 200 acres of forest and 100 acres of a private lake
- In 2019, our $10,000 community impact grant was invested in Gratwick Park in North Tonawanda. We encouraged the City of North Tonawanda to install a boat launch ticket kiosk, affording families from all over the chance to put their boats into the majestic Niagara River and enjoy its natural splendor
- In 2020, our $10,000 community impact grant was donated to the Royalton-Hartland School District to invest in the school’s updated playground and also its new nature space where, among other things, the students will use our gourds to raise and learn about purple martins
- In 2022, our $10,000 community impact grant was given to the Friends of the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. This will help them provide an inclusive experience for people with disabilities, affording them the ability to travel the trail at the Refuge’s visitor center and enjoy nature.
If you would like more information about these and other environmentally-friendly behaviors and practices utilized by Confer Plastics, please download our Material Containment Handbook Here