Ive Design

Waste not, want not

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Consultant Andy Ive considers solutions which not only comply but also enhance the environmental profile of today’s industrial companies. Until recently the prevailing perception in many industries, particularly those operating in emerging market areas has been that waste is an unwelcome inconvenience. The primary infrastructure of most companies was fundamentally not designed to deal with waste efficiently, health and safety officers were assigned the task of coping with it and a general reluctance surrounded the whole issue of waste management.

Latterly however, corporate image and stakeholder interest have become driving forces in response to growing public and government awareness of environmental factors. New ‘grass roots’ thinking is proving the way forward and enterprising methods for cost effective waste management are, at last, coming to the fore.

Industry worldwide has learned the hard way that it can no longer leave the problem of handling waste to local services (often themselves under-developed) and has had to accept the duty of care. Similarly it can no longer use anti-social methods for disposal on site. The fines levied for non-compliance can no longer be ignored - even in emerging markets where fining industrial producers has become a great source of income for burgeoning local administrators.

In the process of examining what we use, export and generally leave behind, it is possible to discover an opportunity to improve the performance of any company, particularly in emerging areas where a dearth of legislation can be used to environmental and corporate advantage. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive. Effective waste management can actually help to increase profitability in these situations rather than draining the bottom line.

With the right approach it is now perfectly feasible to meet the spirit of UK, EPA and EU regulations anywhere in the world. Where once contractors dealt with waste by digging a large hole and burying it, for example, now there are viable means of minimising the 4.5kg of refuse per person per day generated during a construction phase, and of turning seismic or drilling waste from the oil and gas industry into new resources through recycling initiatives, with zero waste going to landfill.

The Four Rs

The watch words of waste management, Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle depend upon supply chain purchasing protocols, worker behaviour, storage and handling methods, and strict segregation of waste types, see Table 1.

With everyone working together to achieve a good waste management and recycling system, the company, personnel and local populace develop a symbiotic relationship which benefits all, providing:-

• A healthier site with no smells
• A tidier site with less accidents
• Less disease borne vectors
• Local employment opportunities
• Improved company image
• Compliance with legislation, reducing the incidence of costly fines
• Positive use of waste to create new resources
• Huge financial and environmental savings in waste transportation

What might once have sounded too good to be true, is now a tried and tested method, with several projects worldwide operating under the guidance of experienced consultants who have introduced simple guidelines and cost-effective equipment which not only reduce waste but also save the companies money.

The key issue is to establish the right thinking at the onset of each project and to ensure that approach is maintained consistently by all personnel throughout the duration of the project so that in time the engineers themselves become the site environmentalists.

The equipment and resources to actively handle the waste management are inexpensive to install, recouping their own cost several times over in saved waste removal revenue.

The main objective of waste management equipment is to reduce volume, as vehicles carrying between 50% and 90% air are a waste of manpower, diesel, money and carbon. A trash container that costs X to have removed, in real terms costs 7 or 8 times that when all the factors are taken into account including:

• The cost of the manpower to fill it
• The 40-50% of a skip’s volume which is taken up by air pockets amongst the waste
• The cost of wasted material going into it
• The cost of replacing those materials
• Landfill gate charges

Simply using specialised equipment to break down waste into smaller volume is a quick and easy method which immediately produces massive savings on traditional methods of waste disposal.

The range of equipment available for the treatment of all types of waste is outlined in Table 2. With the last 15 years showing a huge advancement in the technologies employed, a few notable suppliers have shown a key grasp of the difficulties faced by industries in remote locations, developing innovative equipment which is both mobile and versatile. Once a company has invested in the equipment it can be moved from site to site as required for each new project.

Much of this equipment can be delivered in a single mobile MRF (Materials Recycling Facility). This containerised unit arrives complete with everything required for a basic processing plant, ready to use on day one, powered by a generator supplied and installed in a second container if required. Once it is finished with on one site, it can be moved to the next.

Similarly the safe storage and transportation of chemicals can be handled using specially adapted ISO containers which can be moved with 24m3 of chemicals in place. With packaging integrity protected, chemicals last longer and sites are made safer with less danger of wind blown contamination.

Who’s problem?

Deciding who is to manage the waste on any industrial site is a key factor. Assigning responsibility to individual workers is essential for segregation of waste at source, for if it is mixed, the battle is partly lost. Conflicts of interest will arise if, for example, the catering contractor (who is also a waste producer) is solely assigned the task, with their waste operatives inevitably coerced into taking mixed waste. Outside contractors are easier to manage, especially when it comes to transporting recyclates off site.

In an ideal situation, a qualified consultant should instigate a system tailor-made for each project covering the following key aspects:-

• drafting the relevant parts of the ITT (tender documents) and contracts to tackle waste from the beginning
• calculating the amount of waste expected based on manpower and project type
• analysis of local recyclers and waste methodologies
• producing a holistic waste management plan
• recommending equipment
• assisting with equipment installation
• training personnel on the use and maintenance of equipment
• providing specialist advice and solutions for handling hazardous waste
• incorporating waste into existing environmental management systems
• training the engineers to themselves become environmentally aware

Handled well, waste management provides not so much a challenge as a chance to excel, and a great advantage when a company is being audited for ISO 14001, , with certification process auditors increasingly looking at waste management as an indicator of how the whole operation is performing.

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