Industries report savings by preventing pollution

This is Pollution Prevention week – a time to look at source reduction as a strategy for saving money and reducing pollution. Take a moment to think about the processes in your facility – what can be done differently so pollution is not generated in the first place?

Regional industries have reported success to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) database; these reports provide some ideas for you to reduce pollution at the source.

Sometimes you just have to pay attention – schedule smart and control inventory

TRI reporters identified successful reduction of solvent waste from 6 – 89 percent through improved maintenance and scheduling. This often involved changing production schedule to minimize equipment and feedstock changeovers or instituting polices to assure materials do not expire while in inventory, or testing of outdated materials for quality prior to discarding them. Some companies found opportunities to reduce releases because they have better procedures for loading, unloading and transfer of materials, or they’ve checked and eliminated leaks.  Inspection and monitoring programs can also prevent unnecessary loss of materials.

Controlling inventory and reducing or eliminating leaks and spills has so many advantages – money is saved because materials are not wasted due to being out of date or spilled, time and money are saved by not paying disposal costs and reporting, and you don’t have toxic chemical exposure to you, your employees, your neighbors, or the environment.

The most bang may cost some bucks – or at least some time.

Beyond the “low hanging fruit” of paying attention, investments in changing a material or process produce benefits that outweigh the costs of change . Cleaning solvents can sometimes be easily changed to reduce waste management headaches and provide a healthier work environment, but it may also mean slightly changing the dry time or the way you clean.  In some cases, the vendor supplying the solvent that contains high amounts of toluene, xylene, benzene or other toxics may be able to supply a non-toxic or lower toxic solvent.

Changing materials or processes may not be trivial, though. Descriptions on the TRI reports include things like, “for years we have worked with our vendors to find materials we can use that contain less methylethyldeath.” But of course, the good news is that when substitute chemicals are found, tested, and used, there can be significant reduction or elimination of toxics.

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You can check out the TRI data yourself for more ideas on P2 at http://www3.epa.gov/enviro/

Most Popular P2 Practices reported on TRI in 2014