Waste minimization is a practice or process through which the quantity of generated waste is reduced with the main objective of producing the least of unwanted by-products through the optimal use of raw materials, water and energy which in turn reduces the amount of waste entering the environment. It supports any company’s aim for a “Clean technology” production which means full utilization of resources, cost savings in storage, treatment & disposal of generated waste by reducing its volume and its strength or concentration, improves environmental compliance, ensures profit, and promote corporate good image.
For any company which is competing in today’s world, efficient and “clean” processes have become a necessity which not only involves maximization of all the resources and utilities, but also the minimization of waste products. This results in a more cost effective production and plant operation. This activity of waste minimization can be classified under Corporate Social Responsibility Activities and thus, greatly help in boosting a company’s reputation in the society due to which it should be one of the prime focal points for any company’s top management.
The process of waste management in a company can be initiated through the formation of a team/committee consisting of people within the company who are solely dedicated to reduction of waste management within the company. This team then conducts various audits to track the amount of waste being generated through various operations and accordingly comes up with a detailed plan to minimize it. This includes reduction in effluent production, cutting down costs by conservation of water & energy and even resource optimization to minimize wastage. These plans, once approved by the top management of the company, are communicated throughout the company and are encouraged to implement them for minimum waste generation. The progress in tracked through keeping a tab on the amount of waste being generated and comparing pre-implementation and post implementation waste generation and required improvements are made in the plan. This creates an efficient feedback loop for progress tracking and also helps with the enforcement of the plan.
Techniques for Efficient Waste Minimization:
Waste as defined (in the Local Order) is “any matter whether solid, liquid, gaseous or radioactive which is discharged, emitted or disposed in such volume or manner as to cause an alteration to the environment as well as any otherwise discarded, rejected, abandoned, unwanted or surplus matter that can be recycled, reprocessed, recovered or purified by a separate operation or process from that which was produced and even any matter prescribed to be waste and as defined by a competent department.” A waste, therefore, is an excess material resulting from any activities which is discharged as reject and unwanted or any surplus material whether as a total useless matter or those that can be rendered useful again by recycling, treatment or recovery thru a different process from which it was originally produced. Waste materials generated from manufacturing, processing & services from any industrial and commercial activities can be identified and grouped as follows:
- Off-specification raw materials (contaminated, expired or outdated)
- Off-specification spoiled products unfit for use or consumption
- Contaminated products, including spills and leakages
- Spent auxiliary materials (catalysts, solvents, filters, absorbents, etc.)
- Undesirable by-products from maintenance activities (oils, solvents, etc.)
- Undesirable products resulting from commissioning, start-up or process upset
- Process waste water, including cooling & rinse water contaminated with chemicals
- Air emission from the process, including fugitives & dust
- Solid off-cuts, trimmings and excess materials
- Used container & packaging materials
Ever since the Kyoto Protocol has been put into effect and widely accepted by countries all over the world, the organizations within these countries have become more vigilant about the emissions as well as managing the waste generated which in turn has led to a greater shift in focus for these organizations towards their CSR initiatives and has amplified the need of Waste Management tremendously.