Technologies to Minimize Waste and Save Money:
Manufacturing and Industrial Sectors
In this second article of our two-part series on improving profitability through waste minimization, we look at the technologies that can help drive significant savings in your waste and procurement bills.
Technologies to Reduce Wastewater
Wastewater and industrial sludge make up a large component of many manufacturers’ waste streams, and they can be costly to treat and dispose of. By decreasing volumes of wastewater and sludge, you will also conserve natural resources and reduce the potential for environmental contamination.
To minimize this waste stream, reducing disposal costs, regulatory pressure and procurement costs of freshwater, manufacturers should consider utilizing technologies that reduce the amount of water needed by manufacturing processes:
In-process recycling, or closed-loop processing, involves the reuse of wastewater either as an input for the same process, or for other processes within the same manufacturing facility. This helps your operation to reach its waste reduction goals by reducing the need for wastewater treatment or disposal and by conserving energy and resources.
By installing closed-loop water processing systems, manufacturers can reduce the amount of wastewater generated and seek out opportunities for the beneficial reuse of non-hazardous filter cakes and sludge, benefitting both the environment and the bottom line.
In processes such as milling, turning, drilling and sawing, cutting fluid is used to reduce the temperature and friction at the cutting zone. However, it creates a liquid waste that needs to be disposed of and that has the potential to cause environmental pollution. A considerable amount of fluid is lost from the manufacturing system through vaporization, loss with chips, workpiece and machine components.
In some instances, replacing these parts of the process for those that utilize dry machining technology (machining without cutting fluid) might offer an alternative solution. Generally this works best where there are low cutting temperatures and forces.
Reverse osmosis is a water treatment technology that incorporates the use of a semipermeable membrane to remove impurities from water. It can eliminate over 99% of contaminants from water, including dissolved solids, organics, bacteria and pyrogens.
In reverse osmosis processing systems, a pump creates pressure, which forces the wastewater through a semipermeable membrane against its natural flow. The water molecules pass into a purified water tank, while contaminants are held back to be safely disposed of, or recycled in other processes.
These systems can be used in a variety of industries, such as pharmaceutical, healthcare, food & beverage and seawater desalination.
Advanced-Tech Manufacturing Equipment
Many manufacturing and industrial systems were designed and built back before there was adequate consideration of waste minimization. Upgrading the facility’s processing equipment can often reduce waste volumes, toxicity, and management costs.
Some examples include redesigning equipment to reduce losses during batch changes or during cleaning and maintenance, changing to mechanical cleaning devices to avoid the use of cleaning solvents, and installing more energy and material-efficient equipment.
Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances. Whereas remediation activities remove hazardous materials from the environment, green chemistry technologies prevent these materials from ever entering the environment in the first place.
Facilities that utilize these technologies are often able to minimize the generation of hazardous waste streams. Green chemical technology also avoids the use of non-renewable resources, reduces energy and material use, and lowers environmental and human health impacts.
There are eight areas of green chemical technology that can improve the sustainability of the industry:
- Green product design
- Substituting renewable feedstocks for non-renewable
- Novel reactions
- Novel catalysis
- Process improvement
- Separation technology
- Enabling technologies
Technologies to Reduce Waste Volumes
After your facilities have implemented waste reduction strategies to reduce the amount of packaging waste produced, they may find that they still have considerable volumes of cardboard and plastic film remaining. Balers can effectively reduce the volume of these materials, decreasing site storage requirements and collection fees.
If your facilities generate large quantities of packaging waste, then a horizontal baler is likely the best solution, producing bales of a sufficient size to be able to generate a solid return on investment through recycling rebates.
If your facilities generate large volumes of general waste, then a correctly specified compactor will reduce waste storage requirements and improve the efficiency of waste operations by reducing collection frequency. This has the potential to generate healthy cost savings for your business.
Vertical, breakaway and self-contained compactors are suited to different industrial environments and waste types, but all are safe and easy to operate.
Vertical Compactors are suited to facilities that generate large volumes of waste materials, but are limited with space for collection. The compactors normally have 6 or 8 cubic yard containers, which are serviced by a front load truck.
Breakaway compactors consist of a ground-mounted compactor connected to a removable roll-off container that stores the waste material. This type of compactor is used when large volumes of dry, compactable materials are generated, and there is space for a roll off truck to service the container.
Self-contained compactors are suitable for handling large volumes of compactable wet waste. The compactor and receiver container are one complete unit and the whole unit is serviced by a roll-off truck.
As these two articles have shown, there are many strategic and technological solutions to help manufacturing and industrial facilities to reduce waste and increase their margins. The toughest challenge is knowing which of these will generate the best ROI in the shortest amount of time, and which will be most readily accepted and utilized by the workforce.
An expert waste management firm will identify and source the technologies that are right for your specific challenges, so that you can be confident that they’ll pay themselves back quickly. It will also help individual sites to implement the strategies that can generate significant savings for your business.
If you want to minimize the amount of waste that your facilities produce, speak to our waste experts. Contact us today at 1-888-692-5005, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
©2021 National Waste Associates