Sustainable development" is one of those terms that gets thrown around quite a bit. Even when it's used correctly, it covers a lot of territory. You’ll find dozens of legitimate definitions. One of the most useful -- and simplest -- comes from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development: “Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Why is this important?
There are three major trends that are emerging in business, that are making sustainable development good business.
- The world’s population is growing…...exponentially
- There is a finite supply of non-renewable natural resources available.
- There is upwards pricing pressure on these non-renewable commodities that will have a major impact on business going forward.
Because of these challenges, there is a renewed interest in the concept of sustainable development….and when implemented well, it’s becoming good business.
Examples of sustainable development abound. Here’s a look at a handful.
Having green spaces in an urban area isn’t just about adding a touch of nature to the cityscape. Greenspaces help regulate air quality by filtering pollutants and dust from the air. The shade can counter the warming effects of paved surfaces. The landscaping of these areas, done properly, reduces soil erosion and surface water runoff.
Developing green spaces can be part of a larger design plan.
Sustainable design and construction
Buildings -- and building construction -- consume resources, generate waste, create potentially harmful emissions and fundamentally change the function of land -- including its ability to capture water and absorb it into the ground.
Sustainable design and construction practices seek to curb or offset that adverse impact. In addition to including green spaces, examples include:
- minimizing non-renewable energy consumption;
- using environmentally preferable products, such as materials manufactured from recycled products and from local sources;
- taking steps to conserve water, such as using dual-flush toilets and low-flow faucets;
- retrofitting existing structures rather than demolishing and rebuilding.
The generally accepted standards for sustainable design have been developed by LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. There’s a wealth of information available at their site.
Renewable energy is probably the most obvious example of sustainable development. Here are three examples.
- Solar energy: Once the sun’s electromagnetic radiation is captured, it produces electricity and heat.
- Wind Energy: Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power.
- Geothermal energy: Geothermal power stations can use heat escaping from inside the earth to generate electricity. The most attractive locations for these stations are seismically active areas, such as California and Iceland.
Sustainable Development in the Recycling Industry
At Temarry, we take sustainable development seriously. We understand that valuable natural resources like fossil fuels and water are finite and diminishing. As scarcity increases, cost also increases.
At some point the resources with which we depend upon will be more expensive or we simply won’t be able to get them. This poses a serious business problem that requires evaluation, planning and investment.
Investing in waste-to-energy has allowed us to preserve valuable fossil fuel. Our process generates energy -- electricity and/or steam -- from the combustion of non-recyclable hazardous waste solids (rags, organic debris, PPE, and absorbents) earmarked for the landfill. You can read more about it in an earlier blog post, “Closing the loop waste to energy trends.”
Waste-to-energy won’t completely solve either the waste or energy problem, but it provides an important first step.
Temarry’s approach to waste-to-energy provides a good example of sustainable development within a company. At Temarry, all waste is recycled, and nothing goes to landfill.
Liquids are filtered and blended, then directed to a solvent recovery still. Solid waste is thermally treated at 1500°F to generate steam. That steam is used as an energy source to power those stills, reducing our dependence on valuable natural resources such as propane and water.
The stills produce technical grade solvent products that are sold back to industry.
Everything is used and reused. Nothing is wasted.
Click here to learn about our Recycling Services.
Water is another natural resource that has largely been considered a free raw material and therefore used inefficiently, but many companies including Temarry are now experiencing the higher costs of using the resource. As the earth’s population grows, the demands on our water supplies and upward pricing pressure will inevitably increase costs.
We accomplished drastic reduction of our water usage with a major investment in our infrastructure by developing a new state of the art water treatment facility implemented in 2016.
Our water treatment facility allows us to take in water based acids, bases, oily water and other water based industrial wastes, and convert these hazardous waste streams into clean water to serve all of our industrial water needs at our location.
By processing this type of waste in our operations, we are keeping these waste streams out of landfills, and eliminating our need to purchase clean water.
A huge Win Win!
We are now able to save 150,000 gallons of purchased water annually by recycling contaminated water based waste from our neighbors, saving them from the landfill and useless discharge after treatment.
Placing an emphasis on sustainable development, and making investments in our process when prudent has been good business for Temarry. We have seen a trend where influential companies are looking for vendors and business partners that have sustainability in their D.N.A.
The numbers bear it out. Over the last three years, we have seen a 5,000% growth in our business.
Emphasizing sustainability has not only improved our process, and allowed us to add new services to our offerings, but it has drastically improved our bottom line.