Are you recycling polystyrene the right way? Don’t risk the heavy fines
While there’s a European-wide drive to recycle more polystyrene, some forms of it contain a flame retardant that is hazardous to human health and the environment. The idea of the circular economy is a compelling one, and it’s driving recycling policies worldwide across industries. There is more focus than ever is on the complete lifecycle of products, including packaging, vehicles and buildings.
But it can be a challenge to know if the polystyrene contains a flame retardant to ensure companies don’t risk heavy fines by recycling it the wrong way. The process can now be made quicker and cheaper with the use of handheld X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysers says product manager, Christelle Petiot.
Some polystyrene contains HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane), which is a brominated flame retardant. This type of polystyrene is typically used in building insulation – hence the use of a chemical to reduce flammability.
In 2016, European regulations banned the use of HBCD and any polystyrene containing more than 1000mg/kg of the substance must be treated as hazardous waste. Instead of using normal waste disposal or recycling channels, polystyrene containing HBCD must be incinerated, which typically increases its disposal costs by a factor of three.
Other countries around the world have also adopted this standard, and the US Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing HBCD to determine whether or not it poses a reasonable risk to human health.
How XRF can help
One very effective option for waste management professionals is to use an X-MET8000, along with our guide to preparing a sample of the polystyrene you want to test.
Hitachi High-Tech’s X-MET8000 is a handheld analyser that uses XRF technology. It can easily be used to determine the bromine content in polystyrene waste. In order to separate HBCD specifically from other brominated compounds, some sample preparation is required.
This solution means that a fast and cost effective way of measuring the HBCD content in polystyrene insulation is available to demolition and recycling professionals. Previously, samples would have to be sent to an off-site laboratory for analysis, adding to the cost and lengthening the schedule. With an X-MET8000 analyser and by following our simple guide to sample preparation, operators can determine the HBCD content within minutes on site.
Download our application note for more information, including our sample preparation guide, or get in touch with us to book a demo with one of our experts today.
Analyzing sulfur in soil and sediment with handheld XRF
Background Sulfur creates more than nasty odors. Exposure to low levels (0-10ppm) of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) causes irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; higher levels can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, coughing, and breathing difficulty. H2S and numerous other odor-causing compounds are generated as a result of organic material decomposition. In the case of the Muddy River in Boston, it is a concern of many area residents, schools and hospitals, where the massive remediation of the Muddy River...
On-site elemental analysis of drywall with the Thermo Scientific Niton XL3t series XRF analyzer
ApplicationReports of headaches, nosebleeds, central nervous system disorders, and other serious health effects have been reported from those exposed to compounds emitted from Chinese drywall (CDW). Additionally, surface corrosion of metal objects, including jewelry, decorative plumbing fixtures, HVAC coils, and electrical wires have resulted in cosmetic and mechanical damages. These damages can include the failure of air conditioning systems, electronic equipment, and reports of fires1 resulting from electrical...
Waste management and environmental protection
The general problem of waste disposal into the environment is reviewed and leads into a discussion of the necessity for the new professional area of waste management to be fostered. This profession would oversee and direct the reduction of waste generation, develop recycling schemes and markets for the utilisation of materials presently wasted, and control the disposal to the environment of the remainder. The case for the initiative to be taken by industry itself is strongly argued, but the need for national...
SAN FRANCISCO BUILDING RAISES BAR ON SUSTAINABILITY The design by KMD Architects for a new l2-story headquarters of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will demonstrate energy efficiency, water recycling and reduced carbon footprint. “Our intent from the beginning was to create the most energy-efficient building,” says PUC manager Anthony Irons. The $178 million, 254,000-sq ft headquarters will include wind turbines on the roof, solar panels in outer walls, and a “thermal chimney” to supply 40 percent...
Putting a circular economy into practice in China
Promoting a circular economy has been identified as China’s basic national policy, according to the recently enacted 11th five-year plan for China’s economic and social development. Because of the importance of the development strategy used for this purpose, an implementation framework is proposed in this paper. First, a program is suggested for practically implementing a circular economy in China to serve as a demonstration, beginning at the level of enterprises, then industrial parks, then expanding to cities...
XRF Marks the Spot - The benefits of X-ray fluorescence are helping change the way people look at ...
Untitled Document This case study describes the use of portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) instrumentation in site characterization and corrective remediation for heavy metals and other contaminants, a process that allowed the environmental engineers to accelerate remediation efforts as the client prepared to invest in the redevelopment opportunities of a commercial 26-acre site in Massachusetts. Brownfield Background Many cities across the United States are facing tight budgets due to state spending...
Determination of Trace Elements in Lead for Battery Applications using Atomic Absorption Analysis
Sample and Standard Preparation procedures for Trace Elements in Lead  Preparation of Lead (Pb) Samples: Drill Pb metal to make small pieces. Weigh 2.0 grams of these pieces on a balance. Place the sample in a 400ml Pyrex breaker and add 10ml H2O, 2.5 grams of tartaric acid and 7ml HNO3. Warm on a hot-plate until the sample dissolves. Dilute to 100ml in a volumetric flask with water (H2O). This prepares a 2% sample solution, with a dilution factor of 50.
Lead (Pb) in Workplace Air by Niton 700 Series Field Portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Analyzer
Procedure: Air samples are collected by drawing workplace air, using personal sampling pumps, through 37-mm mixed cellulose ester (MCE) filters mounted in polystyrene cassettes. Samples are prepared for XRF analyses by transferring each filter, along with the support pad, to a special air filter sample holder, specifically designed for a Niton XRF analyzer. Three separate 60-second readings are taken with the analyzer (three different areas of the filter are measured: middle, top and bottom) for each filter...
Recovery of Precious Metal Catalysts - A New Process Using Supercritical Water Oxidation
Up to now, the recovery of precious metals used as catalysts in chemical processes has involved the use of incineration. Now, however, a British-Swedish joint venture has developed a process which uses supercritical water oxidation instead, which provides many economic and environmental advantages. Precious metals are used extensively in catalysts in a wide range of industrial chemical processes. Sometimes they are used in a homogeneous form, but more often fixed to a solid support for ease of handling. In many...
Plastics Waste Pyrolysis Optimisation
This paper presents the optimisation of experimental parameters (run temperature, initial pressure, reaction time, and plastic waste feed) on plastic wastes pyrolysis total conversion and on yields of both gases and liquids. The plastic waste used will include, different compositions of the more abundant plastics in municipal solid wastes: polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS). The analysis of products formed and the determination of their chemical composition provided a better insight to...
San Francisco Takes Residential Organics Collection Full-Scale
After two and a half years of conducting a variety of pilot residential curbside organics collection programs that included food and soiled paper, the City and County of San Francisco (referred to hereafter as “the City”) and Sunset Scavenger Company are commencing a citywide rollout of the Fantastic Three Program. This new, innovative program will include the separate collection and composting of residential organics, consisting of all food scraps, soiled paper and yard trimmings, from nearly three-quarters of...
Fires at Composting Facilities: Causes and Conditions
The subject of fires at composting facilities is a bad news/good news situation. The bad news is that fires are more common than we realize. Ask a group of facility operators if they have had to deal with a fire, and the majority will quietly admit they have. The good news is that we don’t realize that fires are fairly common at composting facilities. Most are neither frequent nor destructive enough to attract attention beyond the facility gates, with notable exceptions. Generally, operators are recognizing and...
Sample Handling Strategies for Accurate Lead-In-Soil Measurements in the Field and Laboratory
ABSTRACT The inhomogenous lead-in-soil matrix can present serious obstacles to accurate sample collection and handling. In typical lead-in-soil measurement, particle size related errors in sampling and sample handling often exceed all other sources of error. The magnitude of error can vary widely depending on the particulate nature of the lead contaminant and the effectiveness of control measures. Large particle contaminants, such as lead bearing paint chips, pose a much greater challenge to accurate sample...
Choosing an Oil Skimmer for the Machine Shop
Advantages of Using an Oil Skimmer: The use of an oil skimmer in the machine shop setting holds many benefits. Removing the oil from a machine coolant tank will initiate some esthetic benefits such as cutting down on the amount of smoke generated from the cutting tool coming into contact with oil laden coolant. When a machine is shut down for the weekend, oil has a chance to come to the surface of the coolant tank. Bacteria that are living in the coolant tank use up the dissolved oxygen in the coolant mix,...
Cart-Based Organics Collection. Citizens Drive 65 Percent Diversion System
For better or worse, citizens opposing waste management projects usually end up being labeled as NIMBYs — not in my backyard. This could have been the case in Halifax, Nova Scotia but instead, the citizens took their opposition one step further, basically taking the design for an acceptable waste management system into their own hands. In the process, they laid out the foundation for an integrated strategy for the four municipalities that now make up the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) that was adopted and...
Backyard Composting Evaluated in New York City
Diversion data following distribution of bins indicate that home composting probably won’t make a significant dent in New York City’s waste stream, but can more than pay its way and boost recycling awareness. New York City may not normally be associated with yards and gardens, but there are good reasons to study backyard composting’s effect on waste diversion, especially because the impending closure of the city’s last landfill in 2001 means that nearly 12,000 tons/day of residential waste will have to be...
Entrepreneurs Expand Markets for Recycled Products
Beyond Waste in Santa Rosa, California demonstrates that reuse deconstruction in the mainstream construction industry can be a money-making prospect — by getting paid to take the building apart and from the sale of recovered materials. Beyond Waste’s first “high profile” project was at the Presidio, a former Army base located on the south shore of the Golden Gate entrance to the San Francisco Bay. In 1994, the Army turned the Presidio over to the National Park Service, which was directed by the Clinton administrati...
Performance-Based Measurement Systems
Many of the Environmental Protection Agency`s (EPA`s) methods used to monitor air, water and soil for environmental contaminants prescribe step-by-step details on how the chemical analysis must be conducted and prohibit any deviations or variations. The EPA has recognized that monitoring equipment and technology have improved tremendously over the last few years; that environmental media do not always act the same way for each analysis; and that the matrix may affect the analysis and results. The EPA has been...
Bioremediation of an Oil Spill
Bioremediation is the method of choice to effectively clean up a small spill of hydrocarbons. In this case, five-hundred liters of BTEX has spilled from an above ground storage tank into a pasture that is located at the west edge of the Royal Roads University (RRU) grounds. The soil is classified as a Gleyed Eutric Brunisol based on recent laboratory analysis; it contains clay, but is fairly loose and porous for the upper meter, and then reaches an impermeable clay boundary (Burke, 1998). The dominant vegetation...
Deconstruction Fits the Bill for Businesses
While deconstruction has become a hot topic in the recycling and demolition industries lately, it is anything but a new discovery. Salvaging materials from buildings has been going on for a very long time. Just a few decades ago, some demolition contractors only did hand wrecking of buildings, selling the reusable materials. As construction firms’ interest in speed overshadowed the value of materials that could be recovered, deconstruction was pushed into the background. But the concept never totally disappeared....
Mercury Emissions From The Disposal of Fluorescent Lamps
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making available to the public a study containing information relating to its Proposed Rule addressing the management of mercury-containing lamps under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Subtitle C hazardous waste management system published in the Federal Register on July 27, 1994, 59 FR 39288. The study consists of an electronic model and report that provides an assessment of mercury emissions from the management of mercury-containing lamps under different...
Inspection Manual: Federal Equipment Leak Regulations for the Chemical Manufacturing Industry
Untitled Document Abstract The purpose of this manual is to enhance an inspector`s ability to conduct more complete and effective inspections at facilities in the chemical industry that are subject to Federal equipment leak regulations. Equipment leak standards are designed to reduce or eliminate emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), volatile hazardous air pollutants (VHAPs), and organic HAPs from the miles of piping and numerous components found in chemical manufacturing processes. This...
Removal of Lead from Gasoline
On 12th March 1997, the European Commission adopted a proposal from the Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard on a European Union strategy to combat acidification. The strategy will, by 2010, reduce significantly the extent of the areas in the European Union where the tolerance of sensitive ecosystems to acidity is exceeded. Main elements of the strategy include establishment of national emission ceilings for each acid rain pollutant; ratification of the UN protocol on further reductions of sulphur emissions;...
Properties and Behavior of Halogenated VOCs
An important consideration when evaluating a remedy is whether the compound is halogenated or nonhalogenated. A halogenated compound is one onto which a halogen (e.g., fluorine, chlorine, bromine, or iodine) has been attached. The nature of the halogen bond and the halogen itself can significantly affect performance of a technology or require more extensive treatment than for nonhalogenated compounds. As an example, consider bioremediation. Generally, halogenated compounds are less amenable to bioremediate than...
Common Treatment Technologies for Halogenated SVOCs in Soil, Sediment, and Sludge
Common treatment technologies for halogenated SVOCs in soil, sediment, and sludge include biodegradation, dehalogenation, incineration, and excavation with off-site disposal. All types of biodegradation, both in situ or ex situ, can be considered to remediate soils: in situ bioremediation, bioventing, composting, controlled solid phase, or landfarming. Slurry phase biological treatment is also applicable but is less widely used. Treatability studies should be conducted to evaluate design parameters, such as...
Thermal Treatment Technologies
Hot gas decontamination: Hot gas decontamination is a technology still in the pilot-scale of development that can be used for decontamination of explosives-contaminated masonry or metallic structures. The method involves sealing and insulating the structures, heating with hot gas stream to 260 °C (500 °F) for a prescribed period of time, volatilizing the explosive contaminants, and destroying them in an afterburner. Operating conditions are site-specific. Contaminants are completely destroyed. Incineration:...
Containment for Soil, Sediment, and Sludge
Containment treatments are often performed to prevent, or significantly reduce, the migration of contaminants in soils or ground water. Containment is necessary whenever contaminated materials are to be buried or left in place at a site. In general, containment is performed when extensive subsurface contamination at a site precludes excavation and removal of wastes because of potential hazards, unrealistic cost, or lack of adequate treatment technologies. Containment treatments offer quick installation times and...
Comparative Risk Assessment
` Comparative risk assessment provides a systematic way to compare environmental problems that pose different types and degrees of health risk. It combines information on the inherent hazards of pollutants, exposure levels and population characteristics to predict the resulting health effects. Using data from available sources, rapid, inexpensive comparative risk assessments can identify the most significant health problems. Together with consideration of costs, technical feasibility and other factors, the...
Principles of Waste Avoidance and Utilization
The minimization of wastes requiring disposal is increasingly important as available disposal options become more and more constrained, and particularly as more substances enter everyday use which are not readily decomposed in the natural environment and which can present long term hazards. This note sets out some basic principles for waste minimization in industrial processes, where `minimization` is taken to include avoidance of the generation of wastes where practical and the productive utilization of any...
Properties and Behavior of Radionuclides
For the purposes of this document, radionuclides should be considered to have properties similar to those of other heavy metals.This does not imply that all radionuclides are heavy metals, but that the majority of sites requiring remediation of radioactively contaminated materials are contaminated with radionuclides that have similar properties. Like metals, the contaminants of concern are typically nonvolatile and less soluble in water than some other contaminants. However, the solubility and volatility of...
Introduction The final step in the waste management process is waste disposal, the permanent isolation of waste. Some wastes can be managed and disposed safely with existing facilities and proven methods. Other Department of Energy (DOE) wastes require more complex disposal facilities. DOE has conducted extensive research into alternative waste disposal methods and has concluded that deep geologic disposal is the best method to dispose of the most radioactive waste. Geologic disposal is the permanent burial of...
RCRA: Reducing Risk From Waste
This document provides an overview of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) solid and hazardous waste regulations. It describes the history of RCRA, the role of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the states, and hazardous waste definitions and management requirements, including the roles of generators, transporters, and treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. In addition, it presents information on hazardous waste minimization. It covers municipal and industrial solid waste as well,...
Asbestos in Buildings: Practical Guidelines for Building Owners
Practical guidelines for building owners Overview Friable asbestos-containing materials are present in many public and commercial buildings, schools and factories built before the mid-70`s. Regulations in Ontario and some other provinces require building owners and property managers to put in place asbestos control programs, once they are aware of the presence of friable asbestos-containing materials in their buildings. In developing an asbestos control program, one or more of the following tasks should be...