Risk Management in Industrial Waste Management

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.

Risk Management in Industrial Waste Management

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.

environmental issues in niger delta

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

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.

2. Recycling

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.

industrial waste recycling

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.

Bioenergy Resources in MENA Countries

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region offers almost 45 percent of the world’s total energy potential from all renewable sources that can generate more than three times the world’s total power demand. Apart from solar and wind, MENA also has abundant bioenergy energy resources which have remained unexplored to a great extent.


Around the MENA region, pollution of the air and water from municipal, industrial and agricultural operations continues to grow.  The technological advancements in the biomass energy and waste-to-energy industry, coupled with the tremendous regional potential, promises to usher in a new era of energy as well as environmental security for the region.

The major biomass producing countries in MENA are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Jordan. Traditionally, biomass energy has been widely used in rural areas for domestic purposes in the MENA region, especially in Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. Since most of the region is arid or semi-arid, the major bioenergy resources are municipal solid wastes, agricultural residues and organic industrial wastes.

Municipal solid wastes represent the best source of biomass in Middle East countries. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait rank in the top-ten worldwide in terms of per capita solid waste generation. The gross urban waste generation quantity from Middle East countries is estimated at more than 150 million tons annually.

Food waste is the third-largest component of generated waste by weight which mostly ends up rotting in landfill and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The mushrooming of hotels, restaurants, fast-food joints and cafeterias in the region has resulted in the generation of huge quantities of food wastes.

In Middle East countries, huge quantity of sewage sludge is produced on daily basis which presents a serious problem due to its high treatment costs and risk to environment and human health. On an average, the rate of wastewater generation is 80-200 litres per person each day and sewage output is rising by 25 percent every year. According to estimates from the Drainage and Irrigation Department of Dubai Municipality, sewage generation in the Dubai increased from 50,000 m3 per day in 1981 to 400,000 m3 per day in 2006.

The food processing industry in MENA produces a large number of organic residues and by-products that can be used as biomass energy sources. In recent decades, the fast-growing food and beverage processing industry has remarkably increased in importance in major countries of the region. Since the early 1990s, the increased agricultural output stimulated an increase in fruit and vegetable canning as well as juice, beverage, and oil processing in countries like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

The MENA countries have strong animal population. The livestock sector, in particular sheep, goats and camels, plays an important role in the national economy of respective countries. Many millions of live ruminants are imported each year from around the world. In addition, the region has witnessed very rapid growth in the poultry sector. The biogas potential of animal manure can be harnessed both at small- and community-scale.

Biomass as Renewable Energy Resource

Biomass is a key renewable energy resource that includes plant and animal material, such as wood from forests, material left over from agricultural and forestry processes, and organic industrial, human and animal wastes. The energy contained in biomass originally came from the sun. Through photosynthesis carbon dioxide in the air is transformed into other carbon containing molecules (e.g. sugars, starches and cellulose) in plants. The chemical energy that is stored in plants and animals (animals eat plants or other animals) or in their waste is called biomass energy or bioenergy.


A quick glance at popular biomass resources

What is Biomass

Biomass comes from a variety of sources which include:

  • Wood from natural forests and woodlands
  • Forestry plantations
  • Forestry residues
  • Agricultural residues such as straw, stover, cane trash and green agricultural wastes
  • Agro-industrial wastes, such as sugarcane bagasse and rice husk
  • Animal wastes (cow manure, poultry litter etc)
  • Industrial wastes, such as black liquor from paper manufacturing
  • Sewage
  • Municipal solid wastes (MSW)
  • Food processing wastes

Biomass energy projects provide major business opportunities, environmental benefits, and rural development.  Feedstocks for biomass energy project can be obtained from a wide array of sources without jeopardizing the food and feed supply, forests, and biodiversity in the world.

1. Agricultural Residues

Crop residues encompasses all agricultural wastes such as bagasse, straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, pulp, stubble, etc. Large quantities of crop residues are produced annually worldwide, and are vastly underutilised. Rice produces both straw and rice husks at the processing plant which can be conveniently and easily converted into energy.

Biomass from Agriculture

McLeod Harvester fractionates the harvested crop into straw and graff

Significant quantities of biomass remain in the fields in the form of cob when maize is harvested which can be converted into energy. Sugar cane harvesting leads to harvest residues in the fields while processing produces fibrous bagasse, both of which are good sources of energy. Harvesting and processing of coconuts produces quantities of shell and fibre that can be utilized.

Current farming practice is usually to plough these residues back into the soil, or they are burnt, left to decompose, or grazed by cattle. These residues could be processed into liquid fuels or thermochemically processed to produce electricity and heat. Agricultural residues are characterized by seasonal availability and have characteristics that differ from other solid fuels such as wood, charcoal, char briquette. The main differences are the high content of volatile matter and lower density and burning time.

2. Animal Waste

There are a wide range of animal wastes that can be used as sources of biomass energy. The most common sources are animal and poultry manure. In the past this waste was recovered and sold as a fertilizer or simply spread onto agricultural land, but the introduction of tighter environmental controls on odour and water pollution means that some form of waste management is now required, which provides further incentives for waste-to-energy conversion.

animal waste

The most attractive method of converting these organic waste materials to useful form is anaerobic digestion which gives biogas that can be used as a fuel for internal combustion engines, to generate electricity from small gas turbines, burnt directly for cooking, or for space and water heating.

3. Forestry Residues

Forestry residues are generated by operations such as thinning of plantations, clearing for logging roads, extracting stem-wood for pulp and timber, and natural attrition. Harvesting may occur as thinning in young stands, or cutting in older stands for timber or pulp that also yields tops and branches usable for biomass energy. Harvesting operations usually remove only 25 to 50 percent of the volume, leaving the residues available as biomass for energy.

sustainable forestry


Stands damaged by insects, disease or fire are additional sources of biomass. Forest residues normally have low density and fuel values that keep transport costs high, and so it is economical to reduce the biomass density in the forest itself.

4. Wood Wastes

Wood processing industries primarily include sawmilling, plywood, wood panel, furniture, building component, flooring, particle board, moulding, jointing and craft industries. Wood wastes generally are concentrated at the processing factories, e.g. plywood mills and sawmills. The amount of waste generated from wood processing industries varies from one type industry to another depending on the form of raw material and finished product.

Generally, the waste from wood industries such as saw millings and plywood, veneer and others are sawdust, off-cuts, trims and shavings. Sawdust arise from cutting, sizing, re-sawing, edging, while trims and shaving are the consequence of trimming and smoothing of wood. In general, processing of 1,000 kg of wood in the furniture industries will lead to waste generation of almost half (45 %), i.e. 450 kg of wood. Similarly, when processing 1,000 kg of wood in sawmill, the waste will amount to more than half (52 %), i.e. 520 kg wood.

5. Industrial Wastes

The food industry produces a large number of residues and by-products that can be used as biomass energy sources. These waste materials are generated from all sectors of the food industry with everything from meat production to confectionery producing waste that can be utilised as an energy source.

Solid wastes include peelings and scraps from fruit and vegetables, food that does not meet quality control standards, pulp and fibre from sugar and starch extraction, filter sludges and coffee grounds. These wastes are usually disposed of in landfill dumps.

Liquid wastes are generated by washing meat, fruit and vegetables, blanching fruit and vegetables, pre-cooking meats, poultry and fish, cleaning and processing operations as well as wine making.

These waste waters contain sugars, starches and other dissolved and solid organic matter. The potential exists for these industrial wastes to be anaerobically digested to produce biogas, or fermented to produce ethanol, and several commercial examples of waste-to-energy conversion already exist.

Pulp and paper industry is considered to be one of the highly polluting industries and consumes large amount of energy and water in various unit operations. The wastewater discharged by this industry is highly heterogeneous as it contains compounds from wood or other raw materials, processed chemicals as well as compound formed during processing.  Black liquor can be judiciously utilized for production of biogas using anaerobic UASB technology.

6. Municipal Solid Wastes and Sewage

Millions of tonnes of household waste are collected each year with the vast majority disposed of in open fields. The biomass resource in MSW comprises the putrescibles, paper and plastic and averages 80% of the total MSW collected. Municipal solid waste can be converted into energy by direct combustion, or by natural anaerobic digestion in the engineered landfill.

sewage sludge biomass

At the landfill sites, the gas produced, known as landfill gas or LFG, by the natural decomposition of MSW (approximately 50% methane and 50% carbon dioxide) is collected from the stored material and scrubbed and cleaned before feeding into internal combustion engines or gas turbines to generate heat and power. The organic fraction of MSW can be anaerobically stabilized in a high-rate digester to obtain biogas for electricity or steam generation.

Sewage is a source of biomass energy that is very similar to the other animal wastes. Energy can be extracted from sewage using anaerobic digestion to produce biogas. The sewage sludge that remains can be incinerated or undergo pyrolysis to produce more biogas.