The Department of Environment and Natural Resources last week recognized John Deere Turf Care in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., as a 2011 Environmental Steward.

The state’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative, designed to promote and encourage superior environmental performance by North Carolina’s regulated community, began in 2002. An “Environmental Steward” is an organization that has demonstrated environmental leadership through its commitment to exemplary environmental performance beyond what is required by regulation. As an Environmental Steward, the organization commits to reporting annually on its environmental performance.

The award recognizes John Deere Turf Care’s superior environmental performance, commitment to continued reduction of its environmental impact and demonstrated commitment to exceed compliance. The facility is one of only 16 facilities in the state that have achieved this recognition.

“John Deere Turf Care shows an obvious commitment to efficiency, waste reduction and innovation,” said Dee Freeman, DENR secretary. “For example, the company requires all its suppliers to use only reusable containers instead of cardboard, and sends out its final products with either no packaging or on returnable metal racks so as to avoid waste.”

A 10-member advisory board appointed by Secretary Freeman provides program direction and implementation and recommended the John Deere Turf Care facility be selected as an Environmental Steward. Advisory board membership consists of individuals from industry, industry trade groups, environmental and citizen nongovernmental organizations, government, academia and small business.

“John Deere is committed to those linked to the land,” said Marc Howze, factory manager for John Deere Turf Care. “The role of our programs goes well beyond legislated functions. We believe that we have the responsibility to design and manufacture equipment that brings more efficiency and value to our customers while minimizing our impact on the environment. Our operations demonstrate this through waste minimization, cleaner emissions and more efficient water use.”

For more detailed information or to apply for the program, visit the Environmental Stewardship Initiative website at www.ncesi.org.