As a comprehensive environmental services provider, we are routinely asked to help companies achieve their sustainability goals. There are many different areas of sustainability and ways to be sustainable. Sustainability to you might mean using less water or electricity, using container packaging materials only from recycled sources, or finding an environmentally beneficial use for your industrial wastes. We specialize in providing sustainable waste management and some of those options are described below:
Waste-to-Energy or Energy-from-Waste
Depending on how long you have been in the sustainable waste management industry will probably determine what you call this recycling solution. There seems to be a terminology change taking place lately regarding the renaming of Waste-to-Energy to Energy-from-Waste. I’m not sure what the necessity is for the name change but I’m sure it will be immensely beneficial once everyone knows what to call this waste treatment option again.
Waste-to-Energy (WTE) is a waste management method for some non-hazardous wastes. WTE is primarily used for municipal wastes where the waste is burned in an incinerator. The heat generated from the incineration heats water, which is in turn, converted to steam which powers generators thereby creating electricity. The electricity is provided back to the communities the WTE facility operates in and prevents the need for consuming fossil fuels to generate electricity. Some industrial non-hazardous wastes can be sent for WTE treatment which helps companies reduce or eliminate how much waste they send to landfill.
Alternative fuels, in the waste management industry, pertains predominantly to using waste flammable liquids for their btu value as an alternative to burning fossil fuels. Things like waste paints, solvents, inks, coatings, cleaners, adhesives and more can be fuel blended and used as an alternative fuel in properly permitted facilities. Even some waste flammable solids can be shredded, and fuel blended to become an alternative fuel. Hazardous waste solids that typically can be fuel blended are things like spill cleanup material, used wipes, paint filters, contaminated PPE, among others. There have even been some recent developments in managing healthcare wastes that allow for them to be used as an alternative fuel. Healthcare wastes that can be used as an alternative fuel include waste pharmaceuticals, waste sharps, and other regulated medical wastes.
Digesters, Land Application, and Compost
These options might be of interest if your facility generates organic wastes. Organic wastes could be food manufacturing related wastes, biomass, manure, and other biodegradable non-hazardous wastes. Wastes that fit these sustainable solutions can be solid or liquid. They can be in consumer containers or in bulk volumes like a tanker. Generally speaking, sustainable waste materials that are appropriate for these types of applications have nutritional value that is beneficial for the micro-organisms that are in digesters or are beneficial to the soils they are incorporated in.
Secondary markets is the term used for selling off-spec, unwanted, or lightly used chemicals. Basically, this is a sustainable waste management solution for companies that routinely, or occasionally, generate chemicals they no longer have a use for, but someone else might. Most commonly solvents, fuels, and oils are managed in secondary markets.
There are two critical components of chemicals being viable candidates for secondary markets. First, do you have a volume someone will be interested in buying? Finding a home for one drum is harder than finding a home for a tanker but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Secondly, how close to the virgin product is your unwanted chemical? The closer it is to the original the better.
We work with several chemical manufacturers, and chemical transporters, and they generate secondary market materials due to production or transportation-related errors. Some companies require extremely pristine virgin chemicals and after light use the chemicals do not meet their stringent requirements. These lightly used chemicals might be completely fine in another application and cheaper than buying virgin product.
Proper Sustainable Waste Management
I also suggest reviewing how sustainable your waste vendor is. Factors like; “is your current waste management vendor providing service, pricing, and solutions that meet your needs?”. The wastes you ship offsite are YOUR wastes from “cradle-to-grave”. The vendor you rely on plays a critical role in ensuring your wastes are shipped offsite within the time limits your generator status allows. Having access to expertise regarding changing regulations, best management practices, new waste treatment options, and onsite environmental program support is extremely valuable.
If you are interested in learning more about sustainable waste management for your operations, please feel free to contact one of our team members. In addition to being waste management experts in sustainable solutions, we also are experts in providing sustainable business relationships. At CES we will provide; responsive service, competitive prices, proactive account management, and experienced guidance to help ensure your sustainable waste management program protects the environment and your business today and in the future.
If you would like to ensure you have the most feasible sustainable waste management program and are receiving the most value from your service partner, please feel free to contact a CES team member!