Thursday, February 2, 2012

Waste - Killing Your Profits or Boosting Them?

By Geoff Morris    

Whenever we set out to make a profit, it is inevitable that we create waste in the process. In the olden days, waste was something that you burnt, buried, or threw into the nearest river or ocean.

Nowadays, we have to be a little bit more circumspect in how we dispose of our rubbish, because if we don't, not only will we continue to poison our own environment, waste valuable and finite raw materials, but also start to destroy our profitability. How? Because we miss out on doing what all natural organisms do - what nature takes in for energy is usually something else's waste, whether that's humans, plants, microbes - what goes around, comes around. On top of that, if we still refuse to recycle and reuse our waste in a sensible manner, the cost in monetary terms with more and more penalties about to be launched could make financial stability a thing of the past. However, with more and more incentives to reduce our carbon footprint in the form of lucrative carbon credits, the economic incentives to manage our waste efficiently have never been greater.

One of the biggest waste concerns right now is the efficient handling of toxic waste, whether that comes from hospitals, veterinary surgeries, abattoirs, or even supermarkets and hotels with their food waste issues.
At the moment, every ton of toxic waste comes with massive liabilities, in terms of licences, storage and transport issues, and gate fees for disposal. It is no longer permitted to dump toxic waste in legal landfills (although a lot of illegal dumping still continues).
Both hospital waste and food waste runs the risk that unless it is treated quite rapidly, the chances of smells, or even dangerous toxic fumes being released while in normal storage can be quite high. For health and safety reasons, neither waste type should be land filled or incinerated, but will need very careful processing to render it safe and to recover as much energy as possible (both have very high calorific values). Unfortunately, to carry out this safe conversion will take a large investment in the right equipment, and then will have logistics issues getting the waste transported safely to this processing plant. On top of this, healthcare providers face a big challenge in managing all of the regulated waste streams that are generated at a modern facility.
There are a number of regulated solutions already available for hospitals and other types of medical centres, but these all mean that the medical facility producing the waste will have to pay a high gate fee for disposal (in the region of 400 or more a ton), plus all of the licensing, waste security, and transport costs involved. Most of these service providers will make a good profit out of disposing of this waste, and to many such organisations, they will be quite keen to dispose of their liability in as easy a manner as possible, and get on with their primary task - health care.

But, with financial stability becoming more and more difficult to maintain, and medical funding, especially in the public sector coming under more and more scrutiny, alternative methods must always be under investigation.
One such method that is gaining more and more popularity in terms of public safety, and the ability to turn this waste away from a liability and into a profit centre, is to install systems at each hospital, or other point of waste production, that will actually reduce the amount of waste and to convert it into sterile feedstock that can be safely transported to a large waste management plant, where it can be successfully converted into renewable energy. This is also done in a sealed environment, so there is no chance of toxic fumes or smells escaping in the process.

By installing revolutionary new 'waste converters' at the point where the waste is created, instead of building up a liability of at least 400 per ton, with all of the dangers of having toxic waste in close proximity to many people, these converters will actually create a sterilised product with an actual resale value, and in an environment where no toxic fumes or smells are released.

So, with the right technology then, the waste material will have gone from being a liability at around 400 per ton, to a sterile feedstock for conversion to green energy, worth around 100 per ton. The increase in value will be in this order:-
1. Liability of 400 per ton removed
2. No further special storage or transport issues or costs
3. All the contents would have been ground down to small pieces, including organic and non-organic material.
4. The actual bulk will have been reduced by at least 60% though moisture removal.
5. Any non-organic recyclables will have been cleaned and sterilised, ready for sale
6. Heat generated to sterilise the waste, and evaporated considerable amounts of moisture can have been fed back into a heat exchange system, for a value.
7. The residue will now be in a position to be sold to a waste management facility, either for a value, or in return for carbon credits and or electricity income. The residue can be easily transported in vehicles that will need no special cleansing afterwards.
8. The whole organisation would be able to boast a true GREEN accreditation.
Depending on the actual amount of waste produced by each location, and whether a number of separate entities could work together on this, it may well be economically viable for them to join together to invest in a special waste management system, that will take the sterilised waste, and convert it to green electricity, The income from the electricity generated and the value of the carbon credits, should pay for such a system in under three years.

Now, those who still insist on sitting back, and doing nothing to change their ways towards the sensible handling of waste, will find that very shorty, they will be regretting their lack of action. Very soon now, the fines that will be dished out to companies that are still not 'doing their bit' to manage their waste issues with some concern for the environment we all have to share, will be disproportionately large..
Why not invest sensibly in your green future now and remove the threat of punitive and costly action if you don't...

The choice is yours. Waste Not - Want Not, never rang more true...
Geoff Morris has been examining the issues of waste management solutions for some considerable time now, both for sustainable humanitarian projects, as well as full on commercial enterprises. If you would like to know what is really available and proven out there, just drop him an email at

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