The automotive industry finds strong support in Greater Peoria, adding to the value of our green economy. Half an hour south of Peoria is Rivian, an electric adventure vehicle manufacturer with a strong commitment to carbon neutrality. The company’s main plant has an expected footprint of four million square feet once planned expansions are completed.
Several green suppliers and service providers offer support to the automobile industry in the region as well. Enviro-safe produces eco-friendly refrigerants, fluids and supplies from their headquarters in Pekin, IL. Onken’s Incorporated, an oil and grease recycling innovator and member of NARA, works to increase efficiencies in industries requiring lubricant storage. In addition to servicing the automobile industry, Onken’s Incorporated provides a bulk oil and grease recycling system for restaurants. As a testament to their ingenuity, the same storage bins that were created when Onken’s began in 1983 continue to be in operation.
When it comes to sustainable manufacturing, Greater Peoria delivers on every level. The Greater Peoria region is home to Maui Jim, a sunglasses manufacturer pushing the bounds of sustainable eyewear manufacturing. Additionally, Natural Fiber Welding, a textile company that is on a mission to make the industry more circular by manufacturing sustainable, recyclable materials and plant-based products. With MIRUM, a categorically new and biodegradable material that has been hailed as the “perfect vegan leather,” Natural Fiber Welding helps brands reduce their carbon footprint while still achieving the look and feel of leather. Retail industry giant, Ralph Lauren, announced plans to invest in the company in 2020.
Textile recycling in Peoria, IL supports the industry with several recycling companies, including Midwest Fiber. Curbside recycling is also available in many communities throughout Greater Peoria.
Greater Peoria is central to eco-conscious organizations with policies that support sustainable processes and the reduction of waste. In 2021, Illinois passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act — an initiative to move the state to 100% reliance on clean, renewable energy by 2050. The energy bill includes $694 billion in subsidies for nuclear power.
Illinois is also one of 19 states to ban electronics such as televisions and computers from landfills. Because of this, several recycling programs now have a strong presence throughout the state, including Kuusakoski US, Advanced Technology Recycling, Goodwill and others.
Additionally, commercial property owners can finance clean energy improvements to properties via the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (C-PACE). The program launched in Peoria in 2021 in partnership with the State of Illinois Energy Conservation Authority (IECA), providing companies with long-term, fixed rates for energy and water use improvements that enhance sustainability and reduce operating expenses.
Peoria supports healthy living within the community as well with a fresh food hub for those living in disadvantaged localities.
The region has positioned itself for the future of a green economy through intensive education and training programs. Sustainability has been a part of Illinois Central College’s curriculum since 2007, with course offerings in solar thermal design, solar water, space heating, and more. The solar pipeline apprenticeship prepares students for a career in clean energy through fundamental knowledge and hands-on experience.
The college also conducts ongoing agricultural resource management research to protect water resources, soil quality, and natural habitats. In 2020, the college received a portion of a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service to produce scientific data on how wetlands reduce nutrient loss in soil.
The Farmington School District completed a $1.8 million solar panel project in 2015 — one of the largest projects of its kind at a K-12 school in the country. The project was funded in part by the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation with design and installation by The Farnsworth Group and the Clean Energy Design Group (CEDG). The project is expected to save the school district an estimated $80,000 annually.