Newsletter: Helping You Find a Better Way

Going Green is Going Good

What is Sustainability?  Ask 10 people and you might get 10 answers.  While the definition can be elusive, the question of what we are doing about it? is being asked more and more.  Customers, suppliers, partners, associations, communities, and government agencies want to know.  It is a tremendously important question and one we have long been prepared to answer.  

As we travel down the pathway of continuously improving how Superior serves all of our stakeholders, both internal and external, a sustainability strategy becomes obvious.  The National Association of Chemical Distributors recognizes this too.  As the next cycle of Responsible Distribution R takes shape, a sustainability code will be added to the existing 13 Codes of Management Practices related to Environmental, Health, Safety, and Security.  It will be included in the third-party verification process required to prove compliance.  In addition, customers and suppliers look to Superior to help them accomplish Sustainability goals.  

First things first.  What is it to us?  As we’ve worked to consider this, we’ve come to the realization that at Superior, it may be as simple as “continuing to do the right thing”.  Consider that Superior began recycling spent product for our customers, returning it to productive use over and over again, in the early 1980’s.  For over 30 years now Superior has developed and actively marketed water-based products and processes to replace hazardous materials.  This work has resulted in decades of significant investments in manufacturing capacity.  As a new partner over 26 years ago I started with training to understand how to introduce and “sell” lower VOC and HAPs free blends to existing customers.  That effort of finding a better way continues today.  Our building and fleet assets have been engineered over time to be more efficient to reduce the impact of our operations.  You could say sustainability has long been a way of life at Superior.

It’s time to find new ways to tell our story and set constantly improving goals going forward.  To address that, we’ve created a position dedicated to Sustainability at Superior.  What is emerging from that work is confirmation that our efforts are making a difference in the intensity of our energy consumption, emissions, and water withdrawal.  Next steps include establishing scores with evidence-based platforms such as Ecovadis, evaluating where we can make short term improvements, and setting long term goals.  

Doing the right thing doesn’t just present a strong business case, it serves the part of our stated goal to be excellent corporate citizens.  We’re excited about, and again prepared for, refining our focus on sustainability.  It has been and will continue to be a difference maker for us and those we serve.  Going green is going good at Superior.  

Static Electricity in the Workplace

When handling flammable liquids, preventing a fire can require a lot of planning to ensure that all equipment is properly designed and safe work practices are in place.  Even though fuel, oxygen, and energy are all required to create a flame, fuel and oxygen are already abundant in most areas where flammable liquids are handled.  This means that a single, small ignition source can spell disaster.  There are several possible ways that a flammable vapor may be ignited; hot surfaces, power tools, and electrical devices all produce enough energy to ignite a flame under the right conditions.  However, the most difficult ignition source to control is static electricity.

When two objects have different electrical charges, an electrical potential, or a potential to transfer electrical energy, is said to exist between them.  If those objects approach each other, a spark can form to equalize their charges.  This happens as naturally as dropping a ball to release its gravitational potential or launching a rubber band to release its elastic potential.  Chances are, you have experienced a static discharge after shuffling across a carpet in your socks or sliding out of your car.  In fact, rubbing two objects together is perhaps the most common way to induce static charge in an object and is known as the triboelectric effect.  This is present in the chemical industry, too.  Consider a liquid flowing through a pipe or a mixer running or a worker wiping down a container.  Filtration is especially hazardous because of the high contact area between a liquid and the filter.  Triboelectric charging is everywhere!

So, what can we do?  At Superior, we employ a number of controls to help minimize static electricity in the workplace.  Pumps are designed to run at lower flow rates to reduce triboelectric charging.  Long filling nozzles are used to fill containers from the bottom, preventing splashing.  Workers bond containers to their filling apparatus to equalize the charge before filling.  We also ensure that all equipment is grounded so that any static charge that develops has a safe path away from the system.  There are many strategies to combat static electrical hazards in the presence of flammable liquids, but the risk is always present and it is essential to know your part in preventing static discharges.


American Petroleum Institute.  Protection Against Ignitions Arising Out of Static, Lightning, and Stray Currents.  API Recommended Practice 2003.  6th ed.  Washington, D.C.:  API Publishing Services, 1998

Britton, Laurence G.  Avoiding Static Ignition Hazards in Chemical Operations.  New York: Center for Chemical Process Safety of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 1999.

National Fire Protection Association.  Recommended Practice on Static Electricity.  NFPA 77.  2018 ed.  

Meet Shandi Lambert

Sustainability provocateur, Member of SERV-IN State Emergency Registry of Volunteers for Indiana hazardous materials response, and passionate environmentalist that supports land, biodiversity, and resource conservation.
What is Sustainability to me? It is taking care of and conserving the land and resources that our children and grandchildren are letting us borrow. It is thinking how we can reuse or recycle at a products inception to reduce waste. It is helping others in need. It is being as self-reliant as possible. In my personal life, I still have a way to go from where I would like to be but one achievement I am proud of is that it’s not a foreign way of life to my children and grandchildren.
My career started in the environmental industry when one of the largest big box retailers violated the Clean Water Act. I was brought on to ensure there was no revenue leakage opportunity as my degree is in Accounting. My responsibilities over the last 20+ years in the Environmental industry include ISO Management Representative, RCRA Hazardous Waste Treatment & Disposal Facility Manager, Compliance Auditor, Household hazardous waste collection coordinator, Emergency Response Incident Command, and Industrial Hygiene Branch Manager/project manager.
The Sustainability turning point for me occurred after working environmental projects. The most impactful was a pesticide/herbicide household hazardous waste collection event in Missouri. Numerous farmers approached with dated chemicals and sad stories of loss of life or property due to improper storage, leachate, or just not being informed. Ever have a moment in life when you wonder if you have made a positive impact on anyone or anything? This was that moment for me, when I became passionate about the environment and community.