Meet Jeff Blankman, Who's Creating Healthier Communities through Sustainability
McCormick’s Jeff Blankman, Senior Project Engineer, is committed to preserving the environment for future generations every day. A self-proclaimed outdoorsman, animal lover, and avid hiker, Jeff has always been interested in protecting the environment. Since he spends much of his time outdoors enjoying the beauty and peace of nature, particularly our national parks, he is dedicated to ensuring that others can do the same for years to come.
Since his first role as a Manufacturing Project Engineer installing packaging lines for retail spices at the Hunt Valley plant, Jeff’s passion for sustainability and protecting the environment has never wavered. He eagerly sought out energy efficiency projects and sustainability initiatives to work on. Over time, those initiatives grew in number and as he discovered more ways companies could help preserve the environment, like using renewable, alternate, and solar energies, he made the move from manufacturing to sustainability. “Luckily, I didn’t have to leave McCormick to evolve my career – as a Sustainable Manufacturing Manager, I was combining my passion with my expertise,” Jeff said.
In his current role, Jeff’s responsibilities closely align with McCormick’s Purpose-led Performance (PLP) approach, which focuses on doing what’s right for people, the communities where we live, work, and source, and for the planet we all share. He finds ways that manufacturing and distribution can support our efforts to diminish our impacts on the environment by reducing the use of greenhouse gases and water, and by increasing the recycling rates of solid waste. He continuously looks for ways to embed sustainable practices across the company.
McCormick outlined details of our progress in all areas of our PLP in our 2019 PLP Report. As a contributor to this report, Jeff understands how valuable McCormick’s commitment is to customers, consumers, and even other businesses. “When I speak at conferences, I am specifically asked about initiatives in McCormick ‘s PLP Report - like our greenhouse gas goals. People are interested to learn that we have an actual quantified greenhouse gas reduction target with a measurable goal. Most companies simply talk qualitatively about energy efficiency projects and renewable energy without having official tracking mechanisms in place,” he stated. Jeff has been instrumental in tracking our energy consumption, creating valuable metrics, and detailing McCormick’s specific PLP goals. He has even met new hires who reported that McCormick’s sustainability efforts were a deciding factor in their decision to join the company.
Many professionals in the industry are excited to learn about McCormick’s partnership with the Skipjack Solar Center, a solar powerplant, to provide renewable energy to power 100 percent of our Maryland and New Jersey facilities. One of only three businesses in Maryland to operate under this model, we have committed to purchasing electricity directly from the solar farm, potentially saving 27,000,000 lbs. CO2 eq. annually. This will account for approximately 17 percent across our Americas Supply Chain, or 11 percent globally. This new agreement and its execution are scheduled to be in line by 2022.
The perception of sustainability has greatly evolved since Jeff started his career. Years ago, retailers were driving sustainability more than consumers, but in the last 10 years that has shifted and today consumers want to support companies that are acting responsibly. “The mindset of society has drastically changed, as evident in our partnerships with non-profits like World Wildlife Fund (WWF), that would have been unheard of when I started out. Businesses and non-profits were considered adversaries back then. Today we are partners who share a common goal of working together to protect the planet. We listen and learn from each other and form alliances, and consumers like that,” Jeff said.
Another initiative Jeff is excited about is a division-wide recycling program that began in 2020. “It’s a multi-year effort systematically looking at every single waste stream, one by one, at every site in America’s Supply Chain (ASC) to see if we can dispose of materials like cardboard boxes, drums, plastics, pallets, and organic waste more sustainably. When we convert from a trash stream to a recycling stream, it’s a win for the environment and typically a cost savings, a win-win for McCormick,” Jeff said.
Jeff's personal life closely aligns with his professional goals. Outside of the office, he can be found installing solar panels on the roof of his house or teaching students at a local school how to reduce energy consumption and help the environment. The most common questions he is asked are about solar power and how it works. Students are curious to know if batteries are needed to produce solar power and how much power the panels on houses can make. “It’s never too early to learn about sustainable actions that can reduce energy consumption or protect the environment,” he shared.
Jeff also presented at Blue Water Baltimore, an organization that helps restore the quality of Baltimore’s rivers, streams, and harbor and at the Irvine Nature Center to encourage engagement with the natural world through environmental learning. He inspires people to explore, respect, and protect nature and believes it is everyone’s responsibility to care for the environment and embrace sustainability. It’s how we can all promote a healthy environment and thriving communities.
“I am proud that like me, McCormick values the science community and understands that running a business and practicing environmental responsibility are not mutually exclusive,” Jeff said. “We are all part of the solution and by embracing that, we help create a future with healthier communities and a greener planet.”