Each year, U.S. manufacturers generate several billion tons of waste, requiring companies to devote significant operational resources to identification and disposal. Reducing this waste requires a keen understanding of the entire stream, from raw material suppliers to disposal at the landfill. A thorough waste-stream assessment can help plants devise a custom strategy to becoming a landfill-free operation by identifying cost-effective alternatives to current disposal methods, best practices for dealing with suppliers and the appropriate capital investments to make for waste handling.
In our most recent webinar, two MPW Industrial Services experts, Amy Bellas and Kevin Sullivan, walked the audience through their process for assessing a manufacturing waste stream, while providing useful considerations along the way that can help companies improve operational efficiency.
Both presenters are members of MPW’s Facility & Environmental Management (FEM) Division. Bellas serves as director of FEM operations, while Sullivan is the general manager.
Waste reduction considerations
Each year, waste poses significant environmental problems that most industrial companies are well aware of, since they constantly work to comply with regulations.
Waste disposal also presents significant monetary costs. Customized waste reduction can identify ways to reduce material inputs, thus helping the plant take on less of a cost burden. But instituting a reduction program has hidden benefits that plant operators sometimes overlook. During implementation, a company must examine its entire waste stream, from purchase of raw materials to the moment the waste is hauled away by a disposal company.
As a result, managers often gain new insights into the inner workings of an operation, uncovering hidden issues they may never have found before. And, examining a waste stream makes regulatory compliance a lot easier, due to an increased knowledge of the materials a company needs to account for in reports to regulatory agencies.
Finding the right sustainability program depends largely on the motivation for reducing waste. Properly identifying this motivation will help a company come up with the appropriate cost structure, staffing and plan.
Whether a plant is operating in the food and beverage, pulp and paper, aerospace or power industry, the path to sustainability involves gaining a thorough knowledge of waste handling procedures and the different types of waste generated throughout all facilities.
Waste reduction solutions providers like MPW typically begin with a 90-day baseline confirmation assessment. Industry best practice also involves conducting a thorough audit of the many processes involved in waste generation, before establishing reporting methods and developing a continuous improvement plan (CIP). Further operational guidance may also be needed, on an ongoing basis.
As a benefit of customized waste reduction, companies can take advantage of an on-site staff that helps out with any issues as they arise. For tracking and compliance purposes, environmental management programs also come with reporting software, designed to help track waste and ensure compliance. Through the implementation of a CIP, plant managers will also learn how to analyze their reduction efforts and gradually reduce landfill reliance.
Since no two operations are the same, each one may have a slightly different idea of how to define success in sustainability. There are, however, some common benchmarks for assessing environmental programs. The seamlessness with which the team at a plant carried out a program’s implementation, quantifiable reductions in the amount of waste generated, and an increase in reporting and communication activity from staff are all things managers use to determine whether a waste reduction effort succeeded or not.
In the last section of the webinar, before taking a final round of questions, the industry experts from MPW shared two case studies. The first study detailed how MPW helped an electronics company achieve their reduction goal within 90 days. The second case study gave some insights into the program MPW developed for a global automotive industry supplier. The program leveraged custom equipment and on-site personnel to improve load efficiencies and begin enhanced recycling programs.
While waste reduction often seems like a lofty goal, industrial plants can cut costs, minimize environmental damage and improve their waste reporting mechanisms by implementing a customized reduction program. If you missed our live event, you can access it by clicking the following link.
For more information from our Facilities and Environmental Management team, click here.