When you specialize in food service products and bathroom dispensers, you better have a long-term plan for health, hygiene and safety. Starting with its company logo, which touts its image as being “Smart. Safe. Sanitary,” San Jamar has gone a step further with its sustainability mission.

The Wisconsin-based company is part of The Colman Group, which developed a three-pronged approach to incorporating sustainability into its business practices. Recognizing global sustainability as an ongoing process, San Jamar and its family of companies have pledged to drive product innovation, operate responsibly, and reduce their environmental footprint.

“We believe that protecting health is a key aspect of sustaining our planet and its people,” the company says on its website. “We also believe that good quality and design promote sustainability because long-useful products promote less waste.”

In terms of product innovation, San Jamar and the others plan to use sustainable materials such as recyclable content: plastic, including the biomanufactured variety, green and solar batteries and biodegradables.

Some of the San Jamar sustainable product innovations have been recognized globally by members of the “green” movement and food service industry.

San Jamar Saf-T-WashFor instance, the National Restaurant Association recognized San Jamar’s Saf-T-Wash ozone food sanitizer as one of its 25 kitchen innovation awards in 2008 and again the following year.

The Saf-T-Wash treats tap water with ozone to kill pathogens on produce. Rinsed produce stays fresher longer and reduces spoilage, increasing its shelf-life and eliminating the need for expensive chemicals, San Jamar says.

Employee safety is also part of the sustainability equation, with products being developed from non-toxic, food-grade materials. “San Jamar food safety tools are designed to reduce employee and customer injuries and illness, while reducing labor and operating costs,” the company reported last year.

Improved designs that use universal paper options reduce waste in disposables, according to the sustainability mission statement. “We will develop products with the highest levels of quality, durability and classic styling for long life.”

A key aspect of sustainability is making durable, long-lasting products, such as the chef jackets produced by San Jamar’s sister company, Chef Revival, said Ken Murray, chief marketing officer for the combined company, known as San Jamar-Chef Revival (SJCR).

“Part of sustainability is that you don’t have to throw away a jacket and buy another,” said Murray, who also serves on the board of the National American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers.

In 2008, San Jamar bought Chef Revival, which also makes other food service apparel and tools. Last year, the Colman Group began restructuring to combine the two brands. The sustainability mission applies to both.

Green operations

To operate responsibly in its buildings and with its staff means selecting and implementing operational practices at all worldwide facilities consistent with high efficiency and protection of natural resources. In addition to the United States, SJCR has divisions in Canada, Europe and Mexico.

The companies plan to reduce their environmental footprint throughout the world-wide supply chain it shares with “our upstream and downstream business partners.”

Working with current suppliers around the world, San Jamar and the others will ensure implementation of operational practices consistent with high efficiency and protection of natural recourses in keeping with local laws and regulations. “We will favor new suppliers who share our commitment to the environment,” SJCR says.

Like employees, vendors will be held accountable for ensuring sustainability. Detailed sustainability surveys will be part of the vendor selection process as well as developing sustainability initiatives and goals with current suppliers and service providers.

SJCR also states that it will try to minimize the environmental impact of its worldwide transportation services. That includes "implementing alternative methods, manufacturing locations or processes for moving goods, and materials that will maximize efficiency and reduce the consumption of natural resources.”

San Jamar - Tear N DryAre the sustainability efforts making a difference? The Kansas City Royals can attest they’re changing batteries in their bathroom towel dispensers half as much since switching to the San Jamar Tear-N-Dry system two years ago.

The Tear-N-Dry, along with other San Jamar tissue and towel products, have helped the Royals cut down on stadium paper waste, according to a case study reported on San Jamar’s site.

“We no longer have to throw away perfectly good paper in order to keep our dispensers from running out,” Johnny Williams, director of ballpark operations, stated in the report.

That kind of product value is what’s ensuring San Jamar and its sustainability goals are effective in protecting the environment.

Photos: San Jamar