Every year, U.S companies generate over 7 billion tons of solid industrial waste. In light of rising disposal costs, regulatory pressures, and changing consumer preferences, companies in the manufacturing industry have begun seeking new ways of reducing production wastes. Luckily, there are numerous tools and methods available to assist manufacturers in these efforts. These include:
Reducing Packaging Materials
Looking for ways to reduce the amount of packing materials used onsite is one of the first steps manufacturers can take toward reducing production waste. One way to accomplish this is to redesign product packaging so that it uses the minimum amount of materials that are necessary. You can also look for ways to incorporate recyclable or degradable content, such as using air packs or corn-based packing peanuts to provide cushioning.
The term “green chemistry” refers to the design and use of chemical products and processes that minimize the amount of hazardous substances that are generated. Unlike remediation activities which remove hazardous materials from the environment, green chemistry prevents these materials from entering the environment in the first place.
Companies that utilize these methods are often able to minimize the generation of waste streams that result from operations. In fact, not only does green chemistry provide opportunities to reduce waste products, it also allows companies to save on energy costs and other resources.
Closed Loop Manufacturing
If green chemistry is not a viable option for your company, consider adopting a closed loop manufacturing system to reduce the amount of waste that is generated by your company’s processes. Essentially, this is a way for manufacturers to keep track of their inventory and utilize recycled materials in the production cycle.
Using closed loop systems allows companies to prolong the lifespan of chemicals by maximizing how efficiently they are used. The benefit here is twofold: it reduces the amount of contamination that is being produced while also minimizing the amount of new chemicals which need to be purchased.
Minimizing Water Usage
Wastewater and industrial sludge often make up a large component of manufacturing waste streams. Companies can reduce these elements by looking for ways to minimize water usage in their operations. This can include:
- Chemical drying agents - Used to remove water from an organic compound in a solution
- Dry machining - A machining method that minimizes the use of cutting fluids
- Reverse osmosis - A water purification method involving use of a semipermeable membrane
- Membrane biological reactor - A water recycling system that separates liquids and solids
In addition to reducing wastewater and sludge production, manufacturers can also look to classify these elements by their constituents. For example, some types of sludge that are high in organic materials can be sold to other firms who can use these materials beneficially.
Reduce Manufacturing Waste Today
Waste minimization strategies not only provide companies with environmental and social benefits, they provide cost-effective solutions to the production process as well. Although implementing these programs may seem intimidating, the benefits to the environment and your company’s bottom line make it worthwhile.