There’s $$$ in waste, if you look

EFFECTIVE waste management and recycling not only has benefits for the environment, but can also improve the bottom line, as more manufacturing companies are finding.

EFFECTIVE waste management and recycling not only has benefits for the environment, but can also improve the bottom line, as more manufacturing companies are finding.

Integrated waste management programs are being introduced, and new technologies are being developed and implemented across an extensive range of waste materials in a wide variety of industries.

Richard O’Keefe from Veolia Environmental Services says an increasing number of manufacturing companies are looking to minimise waste and maximise recycling through the adoption of streamlined waste management systems.

“External factors including increasing waste levies for traditional land filling, as well as transportation and operational costs, have resulted in companies taking to source separation waste,” O’Keefe told Manufacturers Monthly.

“Manufactures are also able to utilise several waste management and recycling technologies on-site such as waste compaction systems to reduce waste volumes, whilst industrial technologies also exist for the management of hazardous and liquid waste collection and disposal.

“Various innovative waste technologies are now available, centred on increased resource recovery including Natural Recovery Systems which involve an in-vessel composting facility, Earthpower that utilises food waste to generate energy, bioreactor facilities, and materials recovery facilities to reclaim materials such as paper, glass, plastics and metals.

“Both within Australia and globally, we have worked with a range of companies in various industry sectors to develop customised waste management and recycling systems.

“This is aimed at reducing waste generation on-site and implementing split waste stream disposal systems with a view to increasing recycling and resource recovery levels.

“These companies are not only doing it for environmental reasons, but also because it makes good bottom line sense to avoid waste,” O’Keefe said.

“Across the electronics and computing sectors for example we have seen impressive results since the implementation of the National E-Waste Recycling Scheme.”

O’Keefe says the take-up rate by manufacturers of this recycling service has significantly grown on a national basis. “Within the first two years of operation of the scheme some four million kilograms of electronic waste was recycled, the vast majority of which came directly from the manufacturers of the products.

“Electronic waste, which includes toxic materials such as lead, mercury, and phosphorous is being sent to landfill at three times the rate of other general or municipal waste and generates damaging greenhouse gases, as well as significant health risks. At present there is no legislation which prevents e-waste from being sent to traditional landfill.

“Recently Veolia also introduced an innovative technological solution for the recycling of fluorescent tubing via a pre-paid recycling service called RecyclePak.

“This enables manufacturers to ensure that their fluorescent lighting is processed at a licensed recycling facility. All materials within a fluorescent lamp can be recycled, including mercury, glass, aluminium and the phosphorous powder.”

O’Keefe says the company also offers complete on-site support and overall facilities management where Veolia personnel are responsible for quality control to ensure that the waste system is being correctly used by the client in order to deliver maximum results.

“The provision of such a holistic approach allows clients to focus on their core business while we provide risk reduction in relation to environmental, compliance and IR issue,” he added.

Waste minimisation

Government policies and regulations may encourage companies to minimise waste and pollution, but as Wastech Engineering spokesman, Alan Barclay, told Manufacturers Monthly, market demands tend to provide greater incentives for adopting environmentally responsible practices.

As one of the leading Australian suppliers of waste disposal and recycling equipment, Wastech constantly researches these changing market forces and offers a comprehensive consulting service to clients to help them minimise their waste costs.

Barclay claims companies stand to make savings through effectively managing the waste they produce.

“If companies segregate at the point of generation, there’s more chance that items such as plastic including Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and cardboard will be dealt with as a commodity that can now be recycled,” he said.

“Cardboard and plastic can still account for significant proportions of the general waste stream within manufacturing sites.

“The trick is to get these items out of this stream and into a compacted payload that is cost effective to transport and attracts the possibility of rebates from those companies collecting this recyclable material.”

According to Barclay some manufacturing sites have been able to save up to $30,000 a year through this practice.

“Even if companies are already participating in a recycling program, if you can reduce the volumes, you stand a better chance of getting a rebate for the cardboard or plastic instead of having to pay a penalty to have it moved off site.

“For any company, an efficient waste and recycling program can yield significant outcomes when considering its ‘triple bottom line’ of economic, environmental and social performance,” Barclay said.