ATLANTA -- The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Assn. announced its new Environmental Stewardship Program at an Aug. 23 press conference at the International Woodworking Fair.

The KCMA developed the ESP to allow cabinet manufacturers to demonstrate their commitment to sound environmental management and sustainable practices through a "rigorous compliance review." Program participants will qualify for certficiation by accumulating points in the areas of Air Quality, Product Resource Management, Process Resource Management, Environmental Stewardship and Community Relations. Participants that demonstrate compliance in these categories will receive the official ESP designation and will be awarded the ESP certification seal to display on their products.

Dick Titus, executive vice president of the KCMA, said the ESP took more than two years to develop. "That's longer than we thought, but we did not want to have something that could be looked at as a rubber stamp&we wanted something with some teeth in it."

The initial fee for enrolling in the program is $250 per company or brand and is basically meant to cover the KCMA's cost of reviewing each application to determine whether it meets the certification requirements. Titus added that 16 companies have applied for the ESP so far.

Bill Weaver, president of the KCMA and president and CEO of Canyon Creek Cabinet Co. in Monroe, WA, said his company is among those that have applied for ESP certification. "It's called the Environmental Stewardship Program because it takes a holistic approach to protecting the environment. It covers trees, air quality, waste stream management, energy conservation and community involvement," he said.

Jim Lobley, president of Hagerstown Kitchens of Hagerstown, MD, said one of the biggest challenges in developing the program was making it work for small and large cabinetmakers. He said the chosen criteria is geared toward "making the ultimate consumer know that we are environmentally friendly and community friendly." Richard Forbes, president and CEO of MasterBrand Cabinets Inc. of Jasper, IN, said his company has identified areas where it can improve by virtue of filling out the ESP paperwork. He cited better scrap management as an example.

Titus said the ESP is a "work in progress" that will be subject to regular review and amendment over the coming years. -- Rich Christianson

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