Waste management comes with various risks and potential liabilities for your business. Therefore, it’s vital to consider pollution prevention when implementing waste management strategies. It helps prevent air and land contamination while minimizing organizational risks and liabilities.
Often, the general public, plant managers, and government regulators may not have sufficient knowledge regarding industrial waste management. Every business owner wants to improve their industrial waste management strategies to cut costs and meet regulatory compliance. Therefore, it’s important to understand how the industry works and various ways of dealing with inherent and residual risk.
Industrial Waste Management
Typically, industrial waste management involves segregation, composting, landfill, and waste recycling. Segregation involves various steps of waste separation to ensure effective disposal. Composting is about industrial waste treatment through biodegradation and land application to improve the organic matter in the soil.
On the other hand, landfill involves burying industrial wastes that are unfit for recycling or composting. However, landfill is not an optimal waste management method since it releases pollutants into the environment. Waste recycling involves repurposing waste materials to lower the amount of waste released into the environment.
Most of the processes use waste management technologies offered by modern waste management facilities. Waste management methods can vary from one firm to another. Ideally, waste characterization is necessary to assess the types and volume of waste produced in your facility to ensure proper management. The process may include various experts like:
- Engineers with knowledge in waste processes management
- Quality assurance experts
- A sampling team
The professionals have high knowledge of inventory, products, and processes within your industry. They can ensure accurate waste characterization and tracking to design the appropriate waste management strategy.
Problems of Industrial Waste
Most industrial wastes pose human and environmental risks since they can contaminate the water, air, and soil when not disposed of properly. While the pollutants have far arching health impacts on the general population, the consequences may be more significant for your employees.
For instance, workers in the Oregon electronics plant were exposed to carcinogenic chemicals that contaminated drinking water in the company. The water had exceedingly high concentrations of hazardous chemicals due to improper disposal methods.
Waste disposal regulations were flimsy at that time, and dumping was the preferred method for most industries. However, most companies were oblivious of the adverse effects of dumping industrial wastes. But with proper information about effective waste management procedures, you can avoid dangerous incidents and ensure the safety of your employees.
Pollution prevention is the use of practices, processes, energy, and materials to minimize waste and pollutants and regulate environmental and human health risks. According to the EPA’s industrial waste management guide, the hierarchy of prevention methods is based on preference. Ranked from best to least appropriate, the methods include source reduction, recycling, combustion, waste treatment, and safe release into the environment. Source reduction is the best method, while the least preferred is release into the environment.
The advantages of adopting proper waste management protocols include compliance with pollution regulations, increasing profits, and safeguarding employee wellbeing. For example, automotive companies generate significant amounts of money by recycling their waste materials. Regardless of whether you can recover money from waste products, pollution prevention methods can help your business in multiple ways, including:
- Cost savings
- Protecting human health and the environment
- Enhancing worker safety
- Positive public image
- Better product quality
- Lower liability
You can create a pollution prevention strategy by evaluating your waste disposal processes and looking for areas that need improvement.
Pollution Prevention in Industrial Waste Management
There are three elements that shape the prevention of pollution from waste management. The processes include source reduction, recovery/recycling, and waste treatment.
1. Source Reduction
Source reduction involves eliminating or reducing the volume of waste from your plant. Nevertheless, it’s essential to ensure that your methods won’t increase waste production in other manufacturing line processes. Ideally, manufacturing plants use various strategies for waste reduction to ensure efficient waste management.
- Technology Modifications and upgrades –you can reduce industrial waste by upgrading your facility’s vital equipment. For instance, paint manufacturers often replace multi-tank cartridge fillers with one tank that empties source tanks to eliminate waste disposal.
- Redesigning and reformulating raw materials –you can use alternative materials that generate fewer waste products. For example, modern medical device manufacturers replace Lead with non-Leaded materials to manufacture some medical equipment. Additionally, you can consider other ways to rethink your production process to ensure minimal waste production.
- Ensuring a clean and well-organized production facility –better organization helps in inventory management. You can replace the holding containers with designs that prevent accidental spills when handling hazardous materials.
Recycling is an effective method in industrial waste management. It can include processes like water recycling, alternative use of reclaimed materials, and optimizing raw material use. You can also join waste material exchange networks like Recycler World.
3. Waste Treatment
While waste treatment is still a useful method, it’s the least preferred for waste prevention. It involves transforming hazardous waste materials into less toxic materials. Waste treatment processes may include chemical, biological, and physical treatment.
Physical treatment alters the physical properties of waste materials without affecting the chemical properties. On the other hand, chemical treatment changes the chemical properties of waste products through a series of chemical reactions. Biological treatment involves exposing industrial waste materials to organisms that break down the waste into simpler components and biomass. The treatment process can either be aerobic or anaerobic.
Waste Management Technologies
Waste management can be an overwhelming undertaking since it involves many processes and numerous regulations. However, a good waste management strategy ensures pollution prevention, thus making the efforts worth your time and resources.
To make sure your waste management processes effectively reduce industrial waste, you can deploy automation tools for seamless tracking. Your company can use various waste management software to streamline the production, storage, transit, treatment, reuse, reporting, and disposal of different wastes.
As the global population increases, the demand for consumables and non-consumable goods rises. And higher manufacturing comes with increased waste production. While it’s inevitable to avoid industrial waste, you can minimize the impacts by ensuring minimal pollution from your business. Since waste management is a multi-stage process, it’s essential to leverage technology to effectively track and manage your industrial waste.