Waste reduction trends

Although manufacturing & industrial units have the highest potential for recycling opportunities and good paybacks they are also immune to delaying or ignoring the benefits for a eco-friendly greener environment. Even the initial stages of compiling data can be a big task for some units depending upon the size of the facility but usually; the larger the task is for preparation the larger the paybacks are.

The trend for implementation of recycling programs at these units & facilities is definitely on the rise. There are various ways to enhance recycling at manufacturing plants despite the facility being big or small. Apart from the direct monetary paybacks, there are immense process streamlining benefits that are also acquired. Many of the waste materials that are generated in the manufacturing processes can be recycled and recovered.

In the case of a chemical factory, which includes more chemical processes or plants, for efficient global waste minimization it is not enough to study and develop individually the several processes because this might result in a local optimum. The improvements at the different processes are to be investigated and coordinated on a higher, second level, on the factory level and it is also necessary to study together the processes to minimize the waste emission in entire factory.

Recycling Tips

  1. Determine the types of recyclable materials that are being discarded and the approximate volume per week or per month for each of the recyclables materials.
  2. Determine where the largest bulk of these materials is originating within the facility such as the department or work stations of whatever other common ground you are able to pinpoint.
  3. Determine the best manner or the best means by which the work flow or work routines could be changed in order to easily separate these materials out from the waste stream while also avoiding major distractions or inefficiencies to the existing routines and work flows. Basically you are looking for the greatest impact for recovering the recyclable materials with the least impact on worker productivity. If the procedures involving the recycling program are much too cumbersome, intrusive, inefficient or demanding on the employees the recycling program will have little chance of succeeding.
  4. Create a ‘Recycling Manual’ that can be referred to not only by existing employees but new employees as well. This will serve as an important point of reference as the recycling program grows and becomes more and more efficient with time. The manual should also include before and after information that highlights the amount of money and recyclables being saved as a result of the recycling program. As these numbers grow it will create more and more incentive for the employees to come up with new ideas for achieving additional benefits from the program. It will also give them a clear picture of how mismanaged a company can be when they don’t recycle.

 

Again, recycling and manufacturing programs can seem daunting to implement but the benefits to business and the environment as well as huge cost savings through government incentives and general bottom line gains are well worth the effort.

Let’s take a look at recycling trends in the near future that have the potential to change the industry:

  • Biodegradable plastics:
    Other than bans on plastic, the concept of biodegradable plastics is an innovative step in the right direction. Experts have been able to develop biodegradable plastics using plant derived resins; although the fact still remains that without proper systems in place to break down and recycle the plastics, we face a major risk of contaminating entire batches of recycling.Biodegradable plastics still face a lot of skepticism, even in the face of major demand, but they definitely offer hope for industries that rely on plastic-based products for packaging, transportation and storage.

    The market for biodegradable plastic resins has been increasing steadily for years and is currently expected to increase by 19% a year into 2017.

  • Composting:
    Only 5% of the 26 million tons of food waste in 2012 avoided a landfill. This means there are still millions of tons of food sitting at the bottom of a landfill that could have otherwise been turned into a healthy compost material for personal or municipal use. Hence, municipalities across the country are pushing to make composting a mandatory practice in order to create healthy compost for personal or municipal use. With vegetable matter ending up in a compost pit instead of the garbage bin, the potential for sustainable, healthy and eco-friendly produce can grow in leaps and bounds.

What will it take for industry to move into-the lead here? We have five suggestions:

  1. Top corporate managements must become more aware and convinced of the many potential advantages that they may derive from waste reductions.
  2. Companies need to put in place information systems on the plant level that track the movement of hazardous substances, the type of waste audit systems we have in mind would identify individual chemicals entering the plants, indicating how much of each chemical is discharged as waste and into what environmental media. This would consequently identify how much of each chemical is being lost and where.
  3. Companies need to establish accounting systems that will allow them to quantify all raw material, handling and disposal costs and will allow them to define the savings to be made by investments in waste reduction strategies of various kinds.
  4. Companies need to develop a top management focus on waste reduction. This may well be accomplished by appointing a vice president directly responsible for waste reduction company-wide. This official would be the one to oversee shaping the kinds of information and accounting systems described above.
  5. Companies need to create specific incentives which motivate plant managers to aggressively look for waste reduction opportunities and document the results; for example, bonuses given for specific waste reductions achieved.

Other changes to watch include a greater focus on corporate responsibility, e-waste management and the creation of sustainable energy from organic waste in the years to come.

Want to know how Panorama can ensure a sustainable innovation for your manufacturing unit? Contact us now!

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