The war on waste: Minimising waste on site

A new program recently launched in Victoria by Insights to Excellence (i2e) is providing opportunities for participating companies to exchange valuable information about war on waste initiatives.

Beyond Waste Insights (BWI) events, with financial assistance from Sustainability Victoria’s Beyond Waste Fund, include a presentation by the host company of its waste minimisation story. 

Each visit has an emphasis on learning to recognise opportunities for waste avoidance and reduction in material usage,” says Ian Young, i2e facilitator and founder of the Centre for Sustainable Resource Consumption.

Dulux Powder & Industrial Coatings, in the Melbourne suburb of Dandenong South, places a high priority on efforts to eliminate all waste from its operations.

According to the company’s technology manager, Bill Matthews, the quantity of powder fines waste from its manufacturing operations has reduced from 190 tonnes to less than 20 tonnes per annum.

“Waste fines have been almost eliminated by combining process improvements and innovative technology with recycling. Previously this waste was disposed to landfill as prescribed industrial waste, but our significant waste reduction initiatives have resulted in an annual saving in excess of $400,000,” he said.

“In addition, Dulux is taking action to identify the waste management issues in the downstream supply chain. A cross section survey of some 100 customers was undertaken to quantify the amount of waste generated by their operations.

“Feedback showed that a typical powder coating operation only utilises around 80 percent of all the powder coating material that they purchase. Importantly, this indicates that all of our customers are generating more than 10 times the waste that we were generating internally.”

Matthews advises that consultants were engaged to assist Dulux customers to assess existing powder coat waste management practices and to conduct a series of waste audits and best practice presentations at selected sites.

“We are now working with our customers to recover, reprocess and reuse waste from customer operations at our manufacturing plant, thus providing a closed loop system.

“The project was used as a pilot to identify issues and solutions before agreeing implementation of an ongoing program with our customers. “

Automotive industry

At automotive products manufacturing company Continental, in the Melbourne suburb of Bundoora, a waste audit conducted by GreenChip environmental consultancy was used to identify and record waste going to landfill.

The company’s management systems manager, Joy Adcock, says this helped to identify improvements for landfill diversion or where there was a possibility of new recycling markets.

“We identified that an additional 64 percent of our waste could be diverted from landfill. Improvements ranged from 99 percent to 26 percent in departments, which is equivalent to an additional 1000Kg per week,” she said.

“Waste was streamlined to take advantage of reuse and recycling opportunities, employee training was increased, and a waste catalogue was developed to take account of every waste we generate.

“Outcomes included redirection of ‘foam’ packaging from landfill to a designated recycler, and a reduction of overall waste removal costs.

“We now have an increased ability to ‘sell’ the various waste stream materials and generate income which can be utilised to maintain and improve recycling even further. In addition, there is a greater consideration of waste at the product design stage.”

Waste & materials hierarchy

Director of GreenChip and the Centre for Sustainable Resource Consumption, Anthony Peyton, points out that recycling is increasing but not addressing the growing total waste generation volume due to the pace of economic development and population growth.

“Whilst we have seen some decoupling of water and energy use from economic growth due to efficiency improvement policies and actions, we have not yet seen this translate to materials efficiency and waste generation,” Peyton told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“The best place to start is in the resource reduction sphere at the top of the waste hierarchy (waste avoidance and reduction). However, businesses can readily fall down the slippery pole and remain primarily focussed at the lower part of the hierarchy in the waste management sphere, which includes waste reuse and recycling, and finally disposal, the least desirable outcome.

“A complimentary concept to the waste hierarchy is the materials hierarchy which has escalating values commencing with an extension of the resource reduction sphere (buying recycled and dematerialising). It moves on to new business models relating to designing products for end of life recovery, prolonging product life by offering extended warranties, and finally zero materials consumption, such as emailing invoices, providing and leasing/hiring out durable products rather than selling consumable alternatives.

“The materials hierarchy goes beyond the waste hierarchy with a focus on reducing the use of materials so that it can be decoupled from economic growth.”

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