by Tony Noblit
When it comes to the environment, social responsibility is no longer just an option. Environmental awareness is top-of-mind to many consumers and businesses.
In a 2007 survey, for example, 67% of Americans said they placed importance on the eco-friendliness of their leisure destinations. Expectations from consumers, the government and conservation groups therefore continue to put pressure on theme park operators to minimise the environmental impact they have on their communities.
Some larger parks have committed to widespread programmes, including recycling, waste reduction, biodiesel initiatives and energy conservation. These efforts often extend beyond the park’s gates to transportation services and lodging areas. Although these projects may incur a high capital start-up cost, many of them lead to improved financial performance with long-term cost savings in operations.
One easy way for park operators to improve their environmental efforts is to evaluate their chemical supply. From toxic cleaners and solvents to oil-based hydraulic fluids, chemical use can increase the risk of damage to a park’s ecological surroundings. In the case of traditional mineral oil-based hydraulic fluids, a leak or spill can also lead to high clean-up costs, government fines and safety risks for park visitors and employees.
Perhaps an after-thought when considering green initiatives, hydraulic fluids used in the operation of attractions or other mechanisms can negatively impact the environment in a big way. Because they are non-biodegradable, fluid leaks or sprays will harm plants and animals in surrounding areas, compromising a park’s relationship with the community.
Spills require clean-ups, which cost park operators a great deal of money depending on the extent of the spill. If hydraulic fluid reaches a water supply, the impact is even greater, and if the fluid leaks or sprays on visitors or employees, they may experience painful skin irritation. It is estimated that 70 to 80% of hydraulic fluids leave systems through leaks, spills, line breakage and fitting failure.
Park operators can protect the environment, their visitors and their reputation by switching to a vegetable oil-based hydraulic fluid. With such products featuring lubrication properties matching those of conventional oil-based hydraulic fluids, and costing around the same in price, it makes more sense than ever for park operators to invest in these fluids.
Some of today’s park operators are benefiting from canola-based hydraulic fluids that are also fire resistant, so increasing safety measures too.
If you as park operators are committed to improving your operations for the sake of the environment, it just makes sense to consider all potential contributors to ecological harm. By switching to less dangerous, high-performing hydraulic fluids everyone stands to benefit.
Photo: Start by using “green” hydraulic fluids on your rides.
Tony Noblit represents Houghton International, a worldwide supplier of fluid technology. www.houghtonintl.com