How Continued Process Evaluation Can Lead To Sustainable Solutions

Posted by Larry Burton on Jun 13, 2017 2:07:47 PM

A recent scholarly article in The Harvard Business Review entitled The Comprehensive Business Case for Sustainability discusses the differences between traditional business models and sustainable business models.  

According to the article, “traditional business models aim to create value for shareholders, often at the expense of other stakeholders like employees, community, or the environment.

Sustainable businesses are redefining the corporate ecosystem by designing models that create value for all stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, supply chains, civil society, and the planet.”

 

Sustainable DNA

One of the key strands of DNA that flows through companies with a sustainable operating model and value system is the mindset and focus to constantly evaluate how core business processes affects people, process and planet.

And when possible and financially prudent, seeking and investing in innovative solutions to protect and conserve valuable resources and improve the business model.

By evaluating operations through that prism, innovation that can truly IMPACT the bottom line both in terms of conservation and profits is possible.

At Temarry, operating by this mindset led us to an innovative approach with the use of alternative fuel sources to power our operations consistent with our mission as a “True Recycling” company.

Our investment in  waste to energy systems are having an impact not only on our process efficiency, but on our community and the protection of valuable natural resources.

  

Becoming a Sustainable Business

We did not start out to become a sustainable company.  Like most companies, we grew into one by constantly evaluating our processes and asking the time-honored question……. Can we do better?

Solvent-Distillation-1.jpgOur core business process, solvent distillation is not a new concept.  Believe it or not, the idea and the process of recapturing usable solvent by distillation has been around for decades. For years, there were many companies devoted to the process in the United States.

However, as the environmental movement took hold in places like California, and clean air became a priority, many operations were shuttered.

Now there are no operations dedicated exclusively to producing a solvent product by utilizing distillation west of the Mississippi in the United States.

The problem with the old ways of recovering solvent when regulations were implemented in the 1980’s was that it was not efficient, cost-effective or clean in the new regulatory confines. The distillation business was no longer a profitable enterprise.   

When we started out in 1998, we were looking to make this old process viable again by modernizing the process in an environment that was conducive to profitability.

Tecate, B.C. Mexico was the perfect place.

In the beginning, spent solvents from primarily the Los Angeles area were exported, recycled, and returned to the U.S. generator. With the burgeoning maquila industry along the Mexican border we were asked by the Mexican government to also accept waste from Mexico to be recycled. We were now an intricate part of the hazardous waste recycling infrastructure serving Baja California. 

As manufacturing continued to move to the border area in the 1990’s, it proved to be a successful business model with an abundance of waste streams to recycle from the maquiladoras and the western U.S.  

Taking corporate responsibility seriously, we did not want to just relocate and create a new “dirty” business in Mexico and call it a day. We knew better. Creating a business that pollutes the environment is no longer acceptable, wherever it may be located.

We evaluated, researched and invested in ways to make the process clean and sustainable with all the tools available to us at the time.

We succeeded in making solvent distillation a clean business by making strategic investments in equipment with the purpose of reducing or eliminating emissions. As a result, we meet and exceed all air quality standards.

We could have stopped there.

 

How Process Evaluation Leads to Sustainable Solutions

However, we were not satisfied AND market forces forced us to look deeper. Increased pricing pressure on fossil fuels in the early 2000’s forced us to re-evaluate our operations.

At the time, our process of solvent distillation required a great deal of energy in the form of propane to fuel and operate our recovery stills. We were purchasing a lot of propane that was subject to significant market fluctuation.  

waste-to-energy-1.jpgSeeking alternatives to propane led to our next breakthrough in sustainable process investment.

To reduce our reliance on propane we invested in machinery to implement waste to energy in 2008.

We figured out that with the right equipment we could use organic industrial wastes (such as rags and debris) that were currently destined for fuel blending in the Midwest for our own energy needs. Waste could be nearly eliminated by using high heat with zero emissions to fuel our operations.

This improvement to our process led to the reduction of our dependence on propane. But, more importantly it provided a better opportunity and more desirable outcome for our hazardous waste clients……..and an expansion of our business offerings.

Win-win!!  

This is when the concept of our company becoming a “True Recycling” company became real for us, and it has spurred us on to look for more opportunities to improve our process.

 

Resource Limitations

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 won’t be able to get them.

Water 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 a company committed to sustainability, we believe it is in our best interest to protect our natural resources so they will be plentiful. It is our duty as a sustainable company to find alternate resources both for our future and for the future of our community.

We accomplished that with a drastic reduction of our propane usage and most recently we made a major investment in our infrastructure to minimize our usage of purchased fresh water.

Water-Treatment.jpgOur new state of the art water treatment facility implemented in 2016, 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. 

There has been a great demand for this treatment service from both Mexico and the western U.S. By processing this type of waste in our operations, we are keeping these waste streams out of landfills, and reducing our need to purchase clean water.

Another Win Win!

Once again, by being committed to consistently reviewing our process and asking ……...How can we be better?

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.

To us, sustainability is not a concept that we give lip service to. To us it is a way of life that extends throughout our organization.

With Temarry Recycling, you can rest assured that you are working with a company that will continually evaluate our process and not hesitate to invest in innovative technology that will make our business more sustainable.

We are committed to “True Recycling,” AND minimizing the Carbon Footprint for our clients in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

 

Solvent Distillation and Energy Recovery Process