Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sustainable salt use is a path forward for industry

'It will take a lot of research, hard work and training to help our industry. We are taking a big step forward this fall with our newest initiative, the 
Best Practices: Guidelines for Sustainable Salt Use.' 

By Phill Sexton
Over the past two years, I’ve been traveling a lot, building new relationships with a diverse set of stakeholders and discussing a variety of industry-related initiatives. The single biggest focus that has come out of that work relates to the issue of salt use in our industry.

We’ve come a long way over the past 10 years. We’ve invested in research on application rates, launched the Sustainable Salt Initiative and renewed our focus on the use of liquids and other practices that can reduce salt output while maintaining safe conditions. I have also shared my experiences with the Fund for Lake George, the New Hampshire Green SnowPro program, and several other regional entities focused on this issue. 

It’s been an eye-opener, and I’ve realized that our industry is exposed to some major risks — and I’m not talking about slip and fall liability. Studies and initiatives in various regions of North America are beginning to identify the impact salt applied to properties (vs. roads and highways) is having on our environment and water. We have a responsibility together to proactively move the needle, or the government is going to start trying to move it for us.

There is no clear path for us. It will take a lot of research, hard work and training to help our industry. We are taking a big step forward this fall with our newest initiative, the Best Practices: Guidelines for Sustainable Salt Use

SIMA identified that there are no basic standards or minimum requirements for salt use. The research, while making progress, can’t tell us exactly what to apply for each situation. 
The guidelines serve as an informal audit of any site, company, or organization that utilizes salts (calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium chloride, etc.) to deice or anti-ice. It provides a set of policies and activities that when used together can reduce salt output while increasing the training, knowledge, and skill of the organization.

Just like our other Best Practices checklists, the guidelines are available to anyone in the industry. We won’t hide this work behind a membership firewall. However, in 2017, SIMA members will be seeing some new members-only value related to best practices in snow, including elements related to salt use.

I hope you will join with SIMA, access the guidelines and begin implementing a plan to reduce your usage while improving performance and managing risk. Download the guidelines today at www.sima.org/bestpractices

  • 17 stakeholders, representing snow contractors, facility management, deicing material supply, municipal, and equipment supply. The geographical distribution included reviewers from Canada, the Midwest, the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic. SIMA also engaged three subject matter experts in the review process. 
  • SIMA reviewed more than 125 comments and recommendations from those stakeholders and subject matter experts.
  • Glossary-specific: As with all of the educational and best practices we produce, the guidelines are aligned with our Glossary of Terms. 
Phill Sexton is Director of Outreach for SIMA. Contact him at Phill@sima.org.

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