Friday, September 30, 2011

Zero Waste - Increasing Business Sustainability and Maximizing Resource Efficiency

By Thayne Carper 

Business sustainability movements strive for zero waste, which is when businesses do not produce any solid waste (garbage), hazardous and eWaste, as well as emissions. While the zero waste system may seem to be a radical movement, its fundamental principles help maximize resource efficiency within organizations. In the zero waste system, every resource within your company has a dedicated purpose, including the waste, which is produced as a result have the manufacturing or operational process. In terms of business sustainability, zero waste is the ultimate goal, in that the organization is self-sustainable.

The typical American manufacturing plant takes more than it produces, as it utilizes energy and materials to create a product that becomes waste in a set period of time. Additionally, manufacturers almost always order more materials than they need, which expire and become waste. For example, if a company produces boxes of cookies, the packaging of the product enters landfills once the product is consumed. A successful zero waste program captures the waste and puts it to use, rather than having it pollute the environment.

America's waste problem is most noticeable in the packaging of consumer edibles that come in disposable containers. While the product may have a shelf life of three months, the packaging takes thousands of years to biodegrade. The problem is a growing concern given the mass amount of pre-packaged foods Americans purchase each year. In a zero waste system products have longer shelf lives and the packaging is either reusable or biodegradable.

Profitability of Business Sustainability

Business sustainability and zero waste measures are good for the environment and offer substantial financial incentives. Source reduction is at the root of the zero waste initiative, which is the money a company saves by minimizing waste in the organization. Waste is an expensive byproduct as it is expensive to produce and sometimes equally expensive to discard. Zero waste is lucrative and sparks innovation within an organization, achieving results that far surpass similar prevention or reduction programs.

Successful corporations such as Hewlett Packard, Xerox, and Interface saved millions of dollars by implementing a zero waste initiative. For example, Interface, a carpet manufacturer, successfully saved $165 million in waste by recycling carpet - turning old carpet into new flooring, which reduced the amount of oil they required. Additionally, their factory was partially powered by solar energy. Xerox, one of the world's top-grossing copier firms, saved $2 billion by reusing printer and copier parts in new machines. Additionally, HP saved $800,000 by using reusable pallets for the transportation of its products.

Implementing a Zero Waste Initiative

The cost savings and environmental benefits of the zero waste initiative outweigh the upfront capital and human resources it takes to launch such a program. The process of reaching zero waste takes several months to complete, with most organizations seeing viable results after the first year. The hands-on process involves every member of the organization, with a core team or steering committee overseeing the initiative. The first step to launching a company-wide initiative is to introduce the concept of zero waste to management, particularly those in charge of making environmental decisions. Employees and other management should not be aware of the initiative until company executives approve it.

Once management approves the business sustainability initiatives, develop a team of dedicated employees throughout the organization. Once the committee is staffed, schedule a launch meeting to kick off the project. The first meeting establishes the mission statement, purpose of the project, and reinforces the company's commitment to reducing waste. Review the documents, rules, and policies provided by management, designate roles, review time commitments, and provide an overview of business sustainability.

Collaboration and brainstorming are essential elements of a successful business sustainability plan. Develop a list of waste categories that your organization needs to target. Do not limit the number of ideas, however; once the brainstorming is complete vote on the top ten categories. Rate the categories in order of importance and disseminate the results to committee members for future reference. Next, identify the sources of waste within the organization followed by real life examples of each. Communicate the results of the initial investigation with business sustainability executives and employees affected by the findings.

To achieve zero waste one must identify how much waste exists in the organization prior to the initiative. Work with company executives and waste management officials to determine the amount of waste created in each of the categories drafted previously. Additionally, break down the waste by type, providing a preliminary business sustainability report for management. Consider using visual aids such as pie charts and bar graphs to display your results.

Review the results in committee, identifying the categories producing the most waste. Focus on the top grossing waste categories by producing a list of questions to ask appropriate shareholders. Consider who has the information you need to know and how you can communicate effectively with that person. The questions and answers serve as the basis for the business sustainability investigation.
Once the priority groups have been defined, begin to brainstorm business sustainability and waste reduction strategies used to increase business sustainability. Vote on the top three strategies that reduce the most waste while increasing profitability. Research and flush out the strategies, bringing the results to management. Identify the best strategy with management.

The business sustainability steering committee is responsible for the execution of the project. Create an overall objective for the project, followed by specific roles and responsibilities of each committee member. Create a step-by-step plan identifying what will be completed, by whom, when, and at what cost. Provide a list of resources and an acceptable timetable. Execute the steps and review the project results with appropriate shareholders. Once the project is complete, tackle the remaining strategies until zero waste and business sustainability is achieved.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

5-S and Engineering Waste Reduction

By Walter McIntyre 

The 5-S philosophy is associated with lean thinking. The objective of lean thinking is to provide a business with long-term profitability by developing a more effective workplace, which is accomplished by eliminating waste in the work environment. The result is a safer workplace, improved product quality, and lower costs for both the business and its customers.

Lean thinking may result in a reduction in work force, but that is not its purpose. In fact, the application of lean thinking for the purpose of reducing the work force is not lean thinking at all. Since some companies have done this, lean thinking has been given a bad reputation and has made waste reduction efforts more difficult.

The 5-S approach involves five activities in the workplace: scrapping, sorting, scrubbing, standardizing, and sustaining. Depending upon which book you read, there may be different names for each S, but the intent is the same.

Scrapping means to throw away unneeded material. A trashy work environment, in addition to being unsafe, tends to create a casual attitude toward quality. There should be a strategy for knowing what to keep and what to throw away. Take junk mail for example. It should only be handled once. Look at it, decide to use it or throw it away, and then take the appropriate action. When junk mail is handled more than once, it piles up on your desk making normal productive work more difficult. The same thing happens in a shop with trash and old parts, and in a store with boxes and packing material.

Sorting is the process of placing everything where it belongs. Imagine a toolbox where the drill bits are scattered throughout. If a bit is needed, it will take some time to find the bit. This adds time and cost to work. Now imagine a toolbox with the drill bits organized in a labeled drawer and separated logically by size. The time necessary to find the needed bit and get the job done is shortened, and the cost of the work is reduced.

Scrubbing the work environment involves cleaning the work area. A clean work area is safer than a dirty one and is conducive to higher quality work. It is related to discarding scrap but goes further by including the cleaning up of what is left. Consider a machine shop where cutting oil is left on the floor. This becomes a slipping hazard and indicates sloppiness. If you were inspecting machine shops to see which one to hire, what would you think about the shop with an oil mess on the floor?

Another example of the importance of scrubbing is preventative maintenance. In a manufacturing facility, for example, the machining equipment can be painted white and wiped down each shift with white cloths. It becomes easy to see any unusual oil leaks or dirt. This allows the factory workers to diagnose machine problems before breakdowns occur. The result is reduced cost.

Standardization is about making sure that important elements of a process are performed consistently and in the safest and best possible way. Lack of consistency will cause a process to generate defects and compromise safety. The standardization of work practices increases predictability. Predictability, in turn, allows the process owners and operators to prevent problems before they affect the customer.
Sustain means to maintain the gains. The 5-S philosophy will only work if it is consistently applied everywhere and all the time. By maintaining consistency, not only will gains be maintained, but there will also be improvement throughout the organization as the 5-S philosophy permeates the work environment. Eventually the philosophy becomes a part of the business' culture.

Finding and eliminating waste within a process or business is about mutual respect and trust, empowerment and accountability. Without these, waste elimination is impossible. As the eight types of waste are covered below, consider how mutual respect and trust, empowerment and accountability would be keys to success.

Elimination of Waste

Waste is any action that does not add value to the product or service in the eyes of the customer. This is related to process mapping, where there are value-added and non-value-added steps in a process. Different organizations may have different categories of waste than those listed below.
The Waste of Overproduction

The waste of overproduction is simply making more of a product or service than the customer demands. Overproduced goods have to be stored and are subject to obsolescence or spoilage. In the long run, overproduction results in higher wastage and cost. It is not important that every employee be busy in the production of goods and services, especially during slow times. Rather than overproduction, a better use of employee time would be maintenance or improvement activities.

The Waste of Over Processing

The waste of over processing is doing more than is required or desired by the customer. An example might be the addition of a "just in case" quality inspection at the end of a process when the data indicates that it is not needed. The customer pays for that unneeded inspection step. Another example is the need of multiple approval signatures for an activity when only one signature will do. This creates time delays and increases cost.
The Waste of Waiting
The waste of waiting manifests itself in many ways. A bottleneck in a process causes the waste of idle time in the next process step and back ups in the previous process step. Long checkout times cause the waste of waiting for the customer. Labor cost, lost customers, and expediting are examples of increases in costs associated with waiting.

The Waste of Correction

The waste of correction is associated with not doing a job right the first time. In process mapping the phenomena of hidden factories are discovered. They are the result of mistakes made in the process that must be corrected. The customer winds up paying for the wasted materials and time.

The Waste of transportation

Transportation waste is centered on the physical movement of goods and materials. Common causes of transportation waste are partially full containers, off-site warehousing, and multiple handling of material. An example would be a coal-fired power plant that is built a long way from the nearest coal. They will always have a large fuel transportation cost. Another example would be an inefficient layout of process functions. Consider an assembly line where components must be moved from place to place for assembly as opposed to an assembly line where a component is finished at the location where it is needed next.

The Waste of Motion

This is the waste of the unnecessary movement of people around a process. Examples are walking excessive distances, excessive repetitive actions, and excessive spread of resources within a process. An example might be having one fax machine in a five-story building.

The Waste of Inventory

This is similar to the waste of overproduction, but specifically addresses inventory within the process. For example, process step A produces twice as many components as needed for process step B. The excess must be moved or stored (waste of transportation). What would be the impact on operating cost if the process were changed the next day, making the stored "in process" inventory obsolete?
Another waste of inventory would be running out of a needed assembly component, thus shutting down a production line. Similar to this would be a store running out of an item that is selling well. In either case, opportunity is lost. Lost income (sales) is also a form of waste.

The Waste of Resources

This is the wasteful deployment of resources. This could be human or material resources. An example would be using an untrained person to do a job, which results in rework, which is a waste of both employees' time. Another would be the purchase of raw materials in excess of demand, which must then be stored. The business now has cash assets (wasted) tied up in stored material that cannot be easily liquidated.

A process improvement project should focus on the elimination or minimization of all causes of waste. In order to do this, process owners must be involved. These individuals are the most knowledgeable about where waste occurs in a process. Every mind that becomes involved in this endeavor adds to probability of success for the improvement team. More minds equal more ideas. In addition, the process owners will be changing their own process. Do not underestimate the power of synergistic thinking.

Lastly, waste reduction is a daily activity and not a project activity. It should be built into the planned process changes proposed by the improvement team so that gains in process performance are maintained. A process improvement project affects the culture of an organization, and because waste reduction is a cultural activity, they go hand in hand.

Walter McIntyre has spent 30 years in the business world, holding positions from apprentice to Vise President. Throughout that time he has worked in both the manufacturing and transactional sides of business operation. He is currently the Chief Operations Officer and General Manager of National Parts, LLC, in Jacksonville, Florida.

Mr. McIntyre earned a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry from Greenville College, Greenville, Illinois, in 1979. He earned a Master Degree in Engineering Management from the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, in 1995.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Basics of Waste Management

By Michiel Van Kets 

Mention waste management to most people and they either don't have a clue what you are talking about, or they really aren't interested! It just sounds a load of rubbish, what do you care what other people do with stuff they don't want? However, once you start delving into what waste management is all about, then you realize there's a whole cycle of events going on and it's quite an interesting topic to find out about.

Waste management is basically how rubbish and trash is disposed of without causing any harm to others or the environment. There are various aspects to waste management; these include monitoring, collection, transportation, processing, and disposal or recycling. When carried out properly, waste management is efficient and extremely environmentally friendly, and in today's world is something every conscientious company should take responsibility for.
There are specialized environmental companies that provide advice and services for waste collection, not only for householders, but also for industries and businesses. They are experienced in all areas of waste management solutions and will remove all your waste efficiently and quickly, transporting it to be disposed of in the correct manner, or recycled.
Some of the waste services offered to industrial clients include waste collection, recycling and disposal, hazardous waste management, emergency response, laboratory services, asbestos removal and re-Insulation.

In the first instance the environment service is concerned with monitoring, this is to identify the type of waste produced and in what quantity; they can then evaluate the processes they need to put into place to reduce the amount of waste produced. Records are kept to see if methods put into place are working and, if not, strategies can be changed and re-examined to make their implementation more efficient.

Once the waste has been monitored and assessed it is time for the collection process. Skip bins and containers have to be emptied before they become too full and prevention of overspill or produce to rot is very important. Depending on the amount of waste produced will dictate the size and number of containers required, and how often collections will be needed. There are different containers for each type of waste, some of these include drums for hazardous liquid waste, tanks for acid or caustic waste, collection bins for e-waste and bulk bins and skip bins for construction site waste.

Next in the cycle is organizing the transportation of all waste products collected. Specially designed waste vehicles make scheduled collections and are responsible for safely transporting it to the landfill, or treatment site where it will be treated and then processed for Recycling. Vehicles have to meet safety standards and be licensed for this purpose, as waste can be a health hazard and even dangerous if not handled correctly, drivers and personnel connected with the transportation are required to have the necessary training and experience to deal with any potential danger.

Once the waste has all been collected it needs to be processed. This involves separating the waste collected, treating and then packaging the raw materials and sending the parts that can be recycled to the various factories that are all part of the recycling procedure. Materials that can't be recycled will be transported to a landfill, and liquid and hazardous wastes will be disposed of safely.
Improvements and new practices in waste management and environmental solutions are in the news all the time, thanks to research and development projects that are committed to finding more efficient and safe ways of disposing of waste. There are many things that are recyclable now that just a few years ago would have been thrown into a rising landfill, everyday items such as paper, glass, newspapers and plastic bags to printer cartridges, corks, mobile phones, even fluorescent lamps can be treated and re-used.

Society has experienced a huge learning curve in the fact that if we don't take action now to make certain our waste is processed correctly; nature will gladly do it for us, and in ways which can be detrimental to our environment. Look online today for an environmental service that can help you to implement effective, innovative and sustainable waste management and industrial services solutions.
Michiel Van Kets writes articles for Veolia Environmental Services, Australia's environmental services leader in all facets of waste management and resource recovery, as well as Industrial services such as Industrial Cleaning and Facilities Management. Visit the website for information on waste management, facilities management and waste recyclers.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hazardous Waste Treatment and Recycling

 By Patrick Sharple 

Hazardous waste is any waste that poses a substantial threat to the environment or the health of the public and generally has at least one of three characteristics; ignitable, oxidizing, corrosive, toxic, or radioactive. Toxic waste has also been defined as having the potential to cause or contribute to an increase in death or serious irreversible illness. It may also pose a hazard to a person's health or the environment when improperly handled. Hazardous or toxic waste encompasses all toxic chemicals including radioactive, biological, and infectious waste.

Where does it come from?
Most waste is derived from companies and some portion comes from homes. Hazardous toxic waste can contain one or more of 39 carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic chemicals which have levels exceeding established limits. This includes many solvents, pesticides, and paint strippers. Some waste is extremely flammable like; gasoline, paint, and many solvents. Some is reactive or unstable and may explode or release dangerous fumes like; acids, bases, ammonia, and chlorine. Some toxic waste is corrosive to metal like; cleaning agents, oven and drain cleaners.

Many businesses produce toxic waste, such as; metal finishers, gas stations, and dry cleaners. These hazardous by-products of their business include sulfuric acid, heavy metals from batteries, waste that contains silver that comes from places like printers, hospitals, dentists, doctors, and veterinarians. Paint manufacturing yields heavy metals, solvents, and contaminated wastewater. The process of developing photos can create organic chemicals, compounds from chromium, phosphates, and ammonium compounds. Another common waste is cyanide which results from electroplating. Other places that toxic waste comes from are; auto repair shops, exterminators, chemical manufacturers, and oil refineries.

Types of Hazardous Waste and How it is Handled
In the United States, facilities that treat, store, or dispose of toxic waste must have a permit to do so under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Currently the United States Environmental Protection Agency regulates how waste is managed. The EPA has designed very strict regulations for the management of waste including; treating, storing, and disposing of.

In America we classify toxic waste into 2 categories; listed or characteristic. Listed waste is listed on one of the four hazardous waste lists either; F,K,P, or U. A characteristic waste will have at least one of the four characteristics of hazardous waste; flammable, reactive, toxic, or corrosive.
Listed waste is generated by very specific industries and is always considered hazardous based on the process by which they are generated. It is also based on whether a test from the waste displays any of the characteristics of hazardous waste. Some types of listed wastes are:
o sludge leftover from electroplating
o waste from the manufacturing of iron and steel
o cleaning or degreasing process wastes

The F-list of toxic waste
The F-list is compiled of waste from common manufacturing methods like; solvents for cleaning or degreasing. The F-list encompasses waste from sources.

The K-List of hazardous waste
This list includes waste from certain industries like; petroleum refining or the making of pesticide. These industries produce sludge and wastewater from the treatment and during the production process. The K-List encompasses hazardous toxic waste that is source-specific.

The P-List and the U-List - Discarded Wastes
Wastes included in the P and U lists are produced from commercial chemical products that are deemed hazardous when they are discarded. P-List wastes are considered to be "acutely hazardous" when they are disposed of and have strict regulations. An example of a P-list waste is Nitric Oxide. U-list wastes are also deemed hazardous when disposed of but these wastes do not have as strict regulations as P-list wastes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waste Disposal and Waste Management

By Patrick Sharple

Waste disposal is either placing waste in water or onto land. Waste is taken to facilities where the waste is permanently contained and can prevent the release of pollutants into the environment. When disposing of solid waste, it often is placed on land in a landfill. Liquid waste is disposed of in injection wells that bury the refuse deep under ground. These wells are closely monitored to prevent leakage of harmful pollutants into the drinking water.

America alone generates nearly 208 million tons of solid waste per year and it is only expected to increase. Each person actually generates about 4.3 pounds of waste per day. Even though we have developed many different ways to dispose of refuse, there is still no absolutely safe way to remove and store trash.

History of Waste Disposal

The disposal of waste wasn't always so carefully monitored. In the 18th century in England and France, people with carts were paid to carry trash out of town and dispose of it. Benjamin Franklin spurred the first municipal cleaning system in Philadelphia in 1757, making the dumping of trash in open pits a routine action. However, since then our trash has become more complicated and can't simply be placed in a hole in the ground. We have many different types of trash and they must be disposed of properly to prevent contaminating the environment.
Types of Waste

There are many different types of waste and it is classified according to its physical, chemical, and biological characteristics. One of the major ways it is classified is by consistency; whether it is solid or liquid waste. To classify as a solid waste the material must contain less than 70% water. This classification often encompasses materials such as; household garbage, industrial wastes, mining waste, and some oilfield wastes. Liquid wastes must be less than 1% solid and is often from wastewater. Wastewater often contains high levels of dissolved salts and metals. Sludge is the final consistency classification; being somewhere between a liquid and a solid. Sludge often contains between 3 and 25% solids and the rest of it is made up of water dissolved materials.
The Federal government classifies waste into 3 categories; non-hazardous, hazardous, and Special wastes. Non-hazardous waste does not pose any immediate threat to health or the environment. This category includes household refuse. Hazardous wastes can either be ignitable/reactive or leachable. This means that hazardous waste is either flammable or has the potential to leach toxic chemicals. Special wastes have very specific guidelines to regulate it. Examples of Special Waste would be radioactive waste and medical waste.

How do we dispose of it?

There are a variety of ways that we dispose of trash and waste. Landfill use is the most common and can account for more than 90% of the countries municipal waste. However, landfills have been proven to contaminate drinking water in some regions. Landfills are the most cost-effective way of disposing; collection and transport represents 75% of the total cost involved. In modern landfills, the garbage is spread thin in compacted layers and then is covered by fresh earth. Landfills minimize pollution by lining the hole, contouring the fill, compacting and planting the top cover layer, diverting drainage, and by choosing sites that are not often affected by flooding or high groundwater levels. Clay is the best type of soil for a landfill because it is less permeable than other types of soil. Some materials that are disposed of in landfills can be solidified into solid materials like cement, fly ash, asphalt, or organic polymers.

Garbage is also disposed of using incinerators. This method is more costly but safer than a landfill. Modern incinerators can destroy nearly 99.9% of organic waste material. Many thermal processes recover energy from the solid waste that is incinerated. Pyrolysis, the process of chemical breakdown can produce a plethora of gasses and inert ash. Incinerators that burn garbage have been known to contaminate the air, soil, and water. Many communities near incinerators object to them for fear of possible harmful emissions.

Hazardous waste is also pumped into deep wells inside the earth. This is called waste injection. Many people are strongly opposed to this because it has caused explosions and even earthquakes in the past.
Organic materials that contain little or no heavy metals can be detoxified biologically. This is often done by composting and land farming; where waste materials are spread over a large area of land so that microbes can easily work to decompose them. However, hazardous wastes must be detoxified before they leach into the groundwater causing water contamination.

Recycling solid waste is not a new idea. In prehistoric times, metal tools were often melted down and recast. These days, recyclable materials are removed from municipal waste by shredding, magnetic separation of metals, screening, and washing. Composting involves the preparing of waste and breaking down the organic matter using aerobic microorganisms. This has lead to many municipalities and garbage collection agencies to require their customers to separate recyclable items from other types of household waste.

Another type of waste is livestock waste. It is created by large livestock companies. These generate more than 30 times the waste that humans do. Yearly, livestock waste accounts for 1.375 billion tons of refuse. The Environmental Products and Technologies Corporation has developed a system to reduce the amount of livestock waste. With their Closed Loop Waste Management System they can turn animal waste into commercial quantities of pathogen free, nutrient dense, soil building materials.
The Future of Waste

Currently, the best way to reduce the amount of waste that must be disposed of is to prevent its creation. Consumers must protest against the production of needless waste and push the movement for using and producing recycled products. These strategies to reduce waste may cost us more upfront but we will pay a lesser price in the end. Reducing waste can add extra years in which we can live on this planet healthfully.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Environmental Waste Solutions For an Ever Changing World

By Steve D Evans 

In all nations he public and their servants are continually seeking out new environmental waste solutions. As time goes on these are becoming more and more sophisticated in order to protect our environment.

The problem is that once an environmental waste solution has been found for one problem science and industry tends to create a new chemical or product which in some way is hazardous and needs a new environmental waste solution to avoid damage to the environment.
Waste is generated in all sorts of ways. Its composition and volume largely depend on consumption patterns and the industrial and economic structures in place. Waste is considered to be the by-product of both natural and artificial processes: manufacturing, chemical reactions, and even events in biochemical pathways.

But how do we distinguish the main products of an activity from its by-products? Waste is directly linked to the human development, both technologically and socially. The composition of different wastes has varied over time and location, with industrial development and innovation being directly linked to waste materials.
Waste is not just waste - it can also become a resource and a material supply for another person. The underlying philosophy for the European environmental policy is now to regard waste as a resource, and if this is pursued to its logical conclusion it can in theory provide an environmental waste solution by effectively eliminating waste.

However, one waste for which most of us would say there is no satisfactory environmental waste solution is nuclear waste. Nuclear waste is not just the material left after it has been used and becomes 'spent'. Nuclear power stations and reprocessing plants release small quantities of radioactive gases (e.g, krypton-85 and xenon-133) and trace amounts of iodine-131 to the atmosphere. However, they have short half-lives, and the radioactivity in the emissions is diminished by delaying their release.
Nuclear power then also leaves us with those spent reactor core materials to dispose of. If you carry out controlled fission in a nuclear power station, you get long-lived radioactive waste, and that poses a long-term hazard to the environment unless it is dealt with properly.

E-waste is another form of waste material for which society is seeking satisfactory environmental solutions. E-waste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their "useful life". Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines are common electronic products. Most of these are laden with toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium that can leach into water, soils and the atmosphere, posing significant environmental and human health risks. However, many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled so the obvious waste solution is to return these goods to the original manufacturer who can best reprocess and re-use the materials and by so doing also save on use of the earth's resources.

Plastic is an increasing burden on our landfills and recycling efforts. Wouldn't it be great if we could just zap the plastic and make it go away? That's is not going to happen of course, but the all pervasive nature of plastic bags for example in the sea and daily injury being to thousands of all types of creatures through ingestion and stomach obstruction, even sometimes suffocation, is alarming. If we knew years ago the damage and the extreme difficulty in finding an environmental solution to the plastic litter problem we would maybe not have allowed these bags to be sued as much as they have been.

Municipal waste, when properly managed, does not pose an immediate threat to human health or the environment. This one of our society's environmental waste solutions is carried out at high cost but is being done quite satisfactorily in most developed nations. Many municipalities are said to now spend 40% of their operational budget on waste-related activities according to one internet report, and the worry is that these are services which often in some poorer nations benefit commercial, high and middle income areas only. Other internet sites suggest that estimates show that 10 million chronically poor people rely on waste picking for their day to day survival - and that definitely needs an environmental waste solution and fast!

So once we have created the waste, there is no easy environmental waste solution to its disposal. The only answer is not to create waste in the first place. Zero waste is a great concept as an environmental waste solution which also produces more jobs for less investment than any other waste management strategy. It also reduces toxic pollution as it incorporates clean production. Zero Waste is a way of thinking, and a path to travel, rather than an absolute. Subscribing to Zero Waste does not mean instantly eliminating every last piece of waste whatever the cost.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Household Hazardous Waste and What You Do If You Find It

By Steve D Evans 

Household hazardous waste materials include many things that you probably are storing right now in your garage, basement, bathroom, or kitchen. Some, like paint thinner or car batteries, are pretty obvious, but there are many that you might not ordinarily think of such as polishes, insecticides, mercury thermometers and glues. Household garbage should be contained in in your Town-provided rollout cart. Please seal garbage in plastic bags.

Hazardous Household Waste is defined as items containing ingredients that could be harmful to humans, pets or the environment. These include common items found in many households, such as cleaning products, paint, and garden chemicals.
Hazardous waste is mostly produced by industry where strict legislation is imposed on these processes due to their hazardous emissions such as heavy metals, but the household presence of this material can be dangerous too.

Hazardous waste is a particular class of "solid" waste (which includes solid, liquid, or gaseous material) which, if improperly managed, poses a substantial threat or potential hazard to human health and the environment. Typical wastes generated at many factories include, but are not limited to: spent solvents, waste laboratory chemicals, waste paints and used oil. Some of these will be hazardous and others not, so the skill is in ensuring that all are properly disposed of in the right manner.
Hazardous waste is a term applied to those wastes that because of their chemical reactivity, toxicity, explosiveness, corrosives, radioactivity or other characteristics, constitutes a risk to human health or the environment. Such wastes maybe generated as a by-product in the manufacturing processes or maybe generated from the use of various catalysts, which need to be disposed off when spent.
The European Commission has issued a Directive on the controlled management of such waste (91/689/EEC) and hazardous waste is defined on the basis of a list, the European Waste Catalogue, drawn up under that Directive. Hazardous waste is generated by all sectors of society, from large industry, to small businesses, households, schools and farms. It is for the most part managed by the professional hazardous waste industry and is treated appropriately and in accordance with legal requirements.

If you think that a material may be hazardous ask to see the Material safety data sheets (MSDSs) or CSSH sheets containing the risk data for that material. These datasheets are a commonly used source of information for this analysis. If a material is chemically unchanged (e.g., uncontaminated ink), the MSDS would be representative of the material as a waste. Materials that are not going to be used (mixed or concentrated) shall be managed in accordance with the instructions on the specific guidelines issued by the supplier.

Regulations require a permit for the transport of hazardous waste on public roads. Discharging hazardous wastes and chemicals in sinks is prohibited by waste water regulations in most nations.
Regulations were adopted in 1991 pertaining to the transportation of non-hazardous waste within the State of Maine. Unless exempt, all vehicles and/or containers transporting non-hazardous waste within the state must have a license. In the UK there are regulations under what is called the duty of care which apply to the transport of all waste materials, and are particularly important in tracking hazardous waste materials to ensure proper disposal takes place.
Household waste is exempted from being regulated as hazardous waste in most nations. Nevertheless, it should not be disposed of indiscriminately. Households, small businesses, farms and the healthcare and construction sectors also generate large quantities of hazardous waste including batteries, electrical equipment, healthcare risk waste, solvent based paint, varnish waste, sheep dip and fluorescent lamps.

Garbage, and garden waste for composting will usually be collected weekly, while recycling rubbish will continue to be collected bi-weekly. Special collection is needed for large amounts of hazardous waste such as asbestos, and special regulations apply to dealing with such which must always be done by qualified experts.
Hazardous waste should never be disposed of with regular household waste, unless the containers are completely empty, as they can cause harm to people and to the environment. This includes used batteries, leftover pesticides, or cleaning products. Always seek advice from an expert unless you are certain of the material and how to safely dispose of it.
Take care because these things can be hazardous to you, hazardous to your family and hazardous to our environment if not used up or disposed of properly.
Disposing of household chemicals in your trash is dangerous. When mixed, household chemicals such as bleach and ammonia cause poisonous gases and fumes or cause fires. Dispose with normal curbside garbage. Residents are asked to remove the lid and allow the paint to dry up before placing on the curb.

Hazardous household waste should not be disposed of in the same way as regular waste. For example, a gasoline drum buried in the ground can affect rivers and find its way into drinking water.
In some countries and states hazardous waste was collected at home or at receiving stations (bring/drop off-sites) in one country this applied to 415 municipalities in 2001. The corresponding figure for 1997 was 136. Hazardous products have four classifications: flammable , poisonous , corrosive and reactive (explosive). Federal law requires that products with hazardous ingredients be labeled.

Household hazardous wastes may also, subject to special arrangements in some states be collected by special waste collection vehicles, which tour in the metropolitan area.
So, take advice from your local waste officer, but if you have very small amounts of hazardous material in your household waste you probably can discard it in your household rubbish for collection. Any larger amount as we have said already must be discussed with your waste expert locally. All local laws must be complied with.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Waste Management

By Michael Powers 

Waste Management is basically explained as the collection, transport, processing, recycling and/or disposal of waste materials. These waste materials are produced by human activity. Waste Management is what is done to reduced the effect of waste on the environment, peoples health, and other things along that nature. As well we can use waste management to reuse some of the resources. People will recycle such things as old newspapers, pop cans, glass jars, etc and by doing this it helps the environment in the long run because we don't have to dispose of all those materials. There are various type of waste management that include the disposal of: solid, liquid, gaseous or radioactive substances. All of these different types of waste management require different methods of disposal and are usually handled by someone with the expertise in that field.
Waste Management practices obvious vary based on where in the world you live. If you compare the waste management practicies of Canada to that of say Mexico they will most likely have there differences. There is also differences based on things like residential versus industrial. Usually residential waste is handled by the local government and commercial or industrial waste can sometimes be the responsibility of the creator of that waste.

There are many things that need to be taken into consideration when discussing waste management such as disposal methods, recycling methods, avoidance and reduction methods, and transportation of waste. All of these topics will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
Disposal Methods There are a few ways to dispose of waste materials. The two main methods of disposing of waste materials is landfills and incineration. Each methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Landfills involves burying the waste to get rid of it. This method if done properly can be very inexpensive and hygienic. Many people probably think this method would be very unhygienic but that really depends if it is done properly or not. There are some countries that do not do this method properly and it can cause such issues as wind-blown litter, attraction of vermin, and generation of liquid leachate (the liquid that drains from a landfill). Another issue that might arise from landfills is gas (usually methane and carbon dioxide) when the waste breaks down over time. Usually landfills are established in disused quarries (type of open-pit mine), mining voids or borrow pits (an area where soil, gravel or sand has been dug for use in another location). Although there are a lot of negative effects of landfills if poorly designed most new ones are designed in a way to prevent negative effects.
Incineration is the second method of disposing waste. This method involves the combustion of waste materials. With this method the waste material is heated to very high temperatures and is converted into materials such as: heat, gas, steam and ash. Incineration can be done on a small scale by individual people such as in a fire and also done on a much large scale by an industry. This method of waste management is considered beneficial for such materials as medical waste. This method however is also a very controversial method of waste disposal because of the emission of gaseous pollutants (green house effect).

Recycling Methods Recycling refers to the reuse or recover of materials that would normally be considered waste. There are a few different methods of recycling such as: physical reprocessing, biological reprocessing, and energy recovery. People are always looking for new ways as well to recycle materials because of the constant issues we are having with waste in our environment.
One of the most popular method of recycling is physical reprocessing. This is common in most countries. This is the method of taking waste materials such as empty beverage containers and using the material to create new materials. Normally waste materials that can be physically reprocessed are usually collected by the local government and are then reprocessed into new products. Some common materials that are physically reprocessed include: aluminum beverage cans, steel food cans, glass bottles, newpapers, magazines, and cardboard.

Biological reprocessing is another common method of recycling that many people do. Materials such as plants, food scraps, and paper products can be decomposed into the organic matter. The organic matter that is produced from this type of recycling can then be used for such things as landscaping purpose or agricultural uses. Usually this method of recycling is done by putting the materials in a dedicated container and let to stay there until it decomposes.

The final method of of recycling is Energy recovery. This method harnesses directly and indirectly the combustion fuel and other types of fuel produced from waste. These types of fuel can be produced by thermal treatment of the waste and used for such things as cooking or heating. The thermal treatment is usually done under very high pressure in a sealed vessel.
Avoidance and Reduction Methods The avoidance and reduction of waste is a very important part of waste management. By reducing waste it helps the environment and everyone in it. Some methods of avoidance include the reuse of second-hand products, repairing broken items and using them again, and designing products that are reusable. As well consumers are encouraged to not use disposable products and use products are designed to help the environment.

Transportation of Waste There are a few way waste is handled. In most countries waste dispose is handled by the local government authorities. In other countries there is no such systems in place and disposal of waste is more difficult. In countries such as Canada and the United States curbside collection is common and occurs weekly. In some countries in Europe they have a collection system known as Envac which conveys refuse via underground conduits using a vacuum system.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

5S and Eight Wastes - Part VIII - Conclusion

By Bryan Lund 

Hundreds of readers have been very patient with this article series on 5S and the eight wastes. My intent was to illustrate that 5S is really a thinking mechanism vs. a cleaning campaign. By adopting a concept and adapting it to an unfamiliar set of circumstances, we learn many things. In this case, by looking at the eight wastes through the 5S lens, we begin to see a deeper meaning to the concept. The basic idea behind this article series is that many professionals tout 5S as being the cornerstone to lean manufacturing initiatives. If this is the case, why is CLEANING the sustaining, cornerstone activity we ask employees to engage in? If we think through our actions, we see that perhaps there is more to 5S that we are missing. So, in this concluding article, we look through the 5S lens at the final two wastes on our list: over-processing and underutilized people.

What is over-processing? To put it simply, it is unnecessarily doing something more than required. Do we close the car door twice when we enter the driver's seat? No, only if something is wrong with the latch. Or perhaps your seat belt is trapped in the jam. Or perhaps you do not normally wear a long garment and it is caught. If you live where I do, sometimes the latch mechanism is frozen! These are all abnormalities from the norm: open door, enter car, close door. The things we do and NEVER think about are the very things we must question in order to develop a problem consciousness. In this way, we often find over-processing, along with the other wastes. When we learn to consistently question and subsequently see, we can then discover why we do things more than necessary.

We over-process for many reasons, often closely related to the other wastes: rework due to defects, or excess motion due to poor layouts. Perhaps your role is not defined, so you do work that has already been done. Perhaps you have been with the company for 20 years and have learned to not trust the process. So, you double check the work of others, unnecessarily so, in order to be confident the job was done right. Often we can classify waste in both categories. Hand delivery of an item, only to find the recipient not ready, can cause a delay and repeating the job. Or perhaps you don't trust the training methods used. In all cases, waste exists and is literally costed as part of the job as inefficiency. We accept it and deal with it by working harder. The result is a vicious never ending cycle of waste producing activities. And this is only using 1/8th of the potential wastes as an illustration!
A result of allowing other wastes to exist is that over-processing effectively hides them by keeping people busy. When we see people working, we quickly conclude without thinking that this unnecessary work is actually a necessary part of the process. We don't know any better because we don't question it and worse, we don't know how to question it constructively without encountering resistance. A plant once purchased a lot of parts which were plagued with a manufacturing defects, so much so that temporary containment of the problem prompted 100% inspection on the sub-assembly prior to use in the plant. Over time, the quality problem went away, but the inspection did not. Over-processing was now threatening to become a parasitic part of the permanent process, if it were not for the observation of an astute person working on the line. But many people felt that the inspection was part of the job and shouldn't be removed from the process. Many resentful feelings can occur in these scenarios if we do not question the process properly. Thankfully, we could question our way back to the original need for inspection without much resistance, but not every parasitic waste is so young that it can die an early death so easily. Many wastes are as old as the company, so we must start with the facts. Coming to this rational realization in a practical way is actually thinking in terms of the first S: sorting out what is necessary and what is unnecessary. By doing so, we begin to see different ways to arrange and standardize work so that the unnecessary work is reduced or eliminated. This is the second S: set in order. We are arranging the process in such a way that only the necessary is in order. Much improvement is often needed here in order to eliminate many of the wastes that are found at this stage. On a side note, this point is unfortunately where we end lean efforts at the second S. We rarely go beyond the first two S', inspecting the process for variation from the first and second S standards. Therefore, the third S, sanitize, is an essential part of keeping the process running at standard so that we meet customer needs.

By standardizing the first three S': sort, set, sanitize we set up the basic ground rules for maintaining good standards. As previously illustrated in other articles, the first four S' apply to all wastes including over-processing. Sustaining the effort means that we run back through the four S cycle, sorting out more waste, setting the process in order, and checking the process frequently for the improvements made will require the involvement and cooperation between managers and employees working in the process. In institutionalizing the standardize and sustain behaviors within management practices, we can slowly but surely overcome the legacy waste that has plagued the system for years. It is no coincidence that sort (plan), set (do), sanitize (check) standardize and sustain (act) closely resemble the timeless PDCA cycle which is loosely based on the scientific method.

This brings us to the final waste: underutilized people. This is a vague waste and has somehow found its way onto the previously popular seven wastes list. Now rounding out the eight waste list, "underutilized people" is a bit of a misleading phrase. To understand what this really means, we must reflect on the previous seven wastes and resulting activities that follow if we allow them to go unchecked. If any waste exists, then other wastes tend to cover up the evidence, as previously stated using our over-processing of inspection example. Therefore, people are generally working harder to inadvertently hide waste. This is not the fault of the people charged with working, but rather the system presented to them as trainees, learners and eventually experts. In other words, management has created a system and points out ways to make the system better, people who supervise the daily activities within the system are charged with getting results through the line organization itself. So, if there is no policy to remove the waste, which hides other waste, we will never fully realize efficient system performance. Instead, we will always work at covering up waste without ever realizing it. The waste of underutilized people can be seen in two ways: people are not working to their full potential productivity. This is the physical part of the waste of underutilized people. But how will they realize their full potential? By uncovering waste and eliminating it. How will they uncover it? By learning to see the eight wastes through 5S thinking. Once they see it, how will they eliminate it? By thinking of and implementing ideas for improvement! This is the second half of the waste of underutilized people: the waste of creative ideas. In order to see and eliminate waste we do not have to physically work hard at it. But we do need to stop checking our brain at the door and cooperate with management. Conversely, management must recognize that they alone cannot fix the production problems created by the eight wastes. Management must adopt the new attitude that each and every person in the company must cooperate with each other in order to realize their own potential. The key point here is that it is ONLY management that will take up the torch in developing their peoples' skills so that they may reach that potential.

This all sounds quite philosophical, eh? The reality is, this practical approach has been around for 100 years, created and developed by pioneers in industrial engineering and early manufacturing companies. Somewhere along the way, we lost touch with the basics of respecting others for their ideas and the concept of developing innovative methods through cooperation and common sense. The basic principles of 5S and the Eight Wastes have been repackaged and sold in dozens, perhaps hundreds of different ways over the last century. The only thing that has not changed is the pitiful rate of adoption and atrocious, distorted adaptations that are aimed to manipulate vs. cooperate. The full potential of American workers will never be realized until the minds of people are engaged and developed, led by a new management movement that recognizes the priceless value of a person's creative idea.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bath Waste Kits Explained - Concealed Waste Kits

The term bath waste kit is used to refer to various combinations of the plumbing required when fitting a bath, usually confined to those parts above the bathroom floor and not inside a wall. All waste kits are either concealed or exposed. A concealed waste kit is one where the plumbing under the bath will not be visible. An exposed waste kit is one which is used when the plumbing under the bath will be visible, these are usually only needed with freestanding baths and are not considered here.
In most cases of choosing a waste kit for a bath you will need a concealed waste kit. This is because most baths that are fitted are panel baths of some sort, that is, they have a side and/or end panel which hides all the plumbing that is under the bath. If you are fitting a panel bath in your bathroom then under normal circumstances you can leave everything hidden inside it or under it to your plumber.
The concealed bath waste kit consists of all the fittings you can see when looking at a fitted bath, i.e. the grills or coverings over the overflow hole and the plug hole and all the visible plug fittings. It also includes fittings you can't see which connect the overflow with the plug hole under the bath so that waste water that goes down either hole goes the same way. It may or may not include a trap, but if you are buying a concealed waste kit yourself then generally your plumber will fit an appropriate bath trap. The trap is essentially a U-bend that traps some water and provides a lock so that air from your drain won't come up through your plug. When choosing a bath waste kit, then, you generally only need to choose between one of three broad types of kit. Here they are:

Bath Plug and Chain Waste (with overflow, concealed )
A plug and chain is the traditional style where a chain attached at one end to the overflow is attached at the other end to a plug which you put in and out with your hand. The chain can be a ball chain where lots of little metal balls connect together to make the chain or a link chain with oval metal links making the chain. A retainer or stowaway waste is one where the plug, when not in use, fits neatly into the overflow which has a recessed grill for this purpose.

Bath Pop Up Waste (with overflow, concealed)
This is what was the continental style of plug, but that is now commonplace in the UK. A pop up plug has a dial, usually chrome, sometimes with a lever, over the overflow, usually this is round and may have 3 or more flattened edges to grip. The dial stands a little proud of the bath, so it does not affect the way the overflow itself works. If you turn the dial the plug lifts up, turn it back and the plug goes down, the movement is conducted by a cable from the dial to a lever which pushes the plug up or lets it down when the dial is turned. When you are fitting a waste kit to a panel bath this cable will not be visible.

Bath Click Clack, Sprung Plug or Push Button Waste (with overflow, concealed)
This one goes by a number or names and is the most modern and minimalist kind of waste that is generally available. With this one in order to close the plug you must reach into the bath and push the plug with your finger, it is sprung and clicks shut. To open it again you reach in again and push it until it clicks open. The overflow is usually either a contemporary round, convex, chrome grill or a convex chrome plate that is raised off the surface of the bath so as not to interfere with the overflow. With the click clack bath waste no cable is needed as part of the mechanism to the plug. The only drawback with the click clack is that if you fill your bath with red hot water by accident, then you'll need a stick to poke the plug with to let some out to get some cold in.
You may also wish to consider these less common options.

Captive Bath Waste Kits
Captives wastes are more often found for sinks than for baths. A captive waste is one which is fixed in the plug hole by a spindle on which is pivots. So to open it you push on one side so that it pivots sideways and opens the plug hole to close it you push back until it closes the hole.

Bath Wastes Without Overflow
Some baths don't have overflows, if you have one of these it will usually be a stone bath of some sort or a very contemporary stone cast resin bath. If this is the case then you must not use a waste intended for a bath with an it has an open connection (for the overflow pipe to join) under the bath. Bath waste kits for baths without overflows will usually be available when you buy the bath

Extended (Overflow) Bath Waste Kit
Occasionally a bath needs an extended overflow pipe, this is generally only necessary if the plug hole is directly in the middle of the bath, i.e. in the middle both lengthwise and widthwise. An extended waste kit may or may not also have a longer than usual chain.

Bath Fillers
A bath filler is a combination of a waste kit and a bath filler. Usually a click clack waste but sometimes a pop up with a dial over the overflow is combined with a filler that fills from the overflow. With this kind of bath filler you must use tap valves of some sort, these may also be called panel valves or stop valves and are usually mounted on the edge of the bath or on a surrounding platform. If you wish to mount tap vales for a filler in a wall panel valves may not be appropriate, ask an expert or the manufacturers.

Thick Baths
When fitting a waste kit to a bath you must be aware of the thickness of the bath. Most plug and chain wastes will fit on almost any thickness of bath, in these waste kits the front and back of both the plug and overflow grills connect by a threaded bolt, as long as the threaded bolts are long enough both parts of the waste kit can be fitted. Some pop up waste kits have a wide bore plastic threaded tube that fits through the overflow from the back of the bath and onto which the overflow cover is tightened, this threaded tube is usually rather short and may have trouble being fitted to a thicker bath. Bath waste kits of different kinds typically fit onto baths of up to 3mm, 10mm, 20mm, 35mm or similar thicknesses. Some manufacturer can supply extension kits that modify their standard waste kits to fit thicker baths.

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Cleanest Countries In The World

Iceland is the cleanest country in the world. This may be hard to believe right now, what with the clouds of volcanic ash grounding flights across northern Europe, but according to researchers at Yale and Columbia universities, the Nordic island ranks first out of 163 countries on their Environmental Performance Index.

Thursday, September 1, 2011