How to go zero waste is a concept that many industry leaders are exploring.
For companies that generate hazardous waste, in particular, designing waste out of their processes can provide economic benefits, reduce their carbon footprint and enhance their sustainability.
Pushing toward a waste free economy is catching on, with many companies seeing the value of replacing a “linear” economic model with a circular one that promotes extending the life of materials. The goal of a circular economic model is to use as few new resources as possible by keeping materials in circulation, essentially producing zero waste.
So, how does a company go zero waste? For those that must dispose of solvent-based liquids, solids and sludge, the key is choosing a waste treatment facility that offers a closed loop recycling process.
What Is Closed Loop Recycling?
Closed loop recycling is a restorative and regenerative process that works to keep materials at their highest utility and value. Embracing circular economy concepts, the goal of closed loop recycling is to recycle a material indefinitely so that the properties of the material do not degrade.
For example, by taking an existing spent physical product, like industrial solvents, and recycling them, a new product is produced with a useful waste byproduct as an added benefit.
In this case, here is how closed loop recycling works.
A waste to energy process begins the circular loop. Organic solids with sufficient BTU are converted to energy in the form of steam. Waste is fed by a conveyor into the primary stage for thermal destruction at 1500 degrees F. All vapors and gases are then directed to secondary thermal treatment at 1500 degrees F.
Inorganic solids, or ash, from the primary stage is quenched and falls into an ash hopper. Heat is then directed to a 200-horsepower steam generator. The remaining gases are directed to a modern two-stage venturi scrubber to ensure that only clean water vapor is emitted into the atmosphere.
Next, solvent distillation continues the process. Using the steam from the waste to energy process as energy to power the recovery stills, spent solvents are re-manufactured. This allows the solvents to be sold back into industry for their original solvent properties.
Finally, water treatment finishes the cycle. This treatment process extracts usable water from industrial hazardous wastes. In turn, treated water is used on-site for industrial needs, including the waste to energy equipment and a cooling tower.
It is important to note that closed loop recycling is not limited to solvents. Many specialized industries embrace circular economy concepts, including the computer and battery industries. This is because industries such as these use expensive or complex goods that cannot easily be broken down post-consumption.
The scenario above, however, is a great example of how a company that produces solvent-based liquids, solids and sludges can go to zero waste.
How Does Closed Loop Differ From Open Loop?
So how does closed loop recycling differ from what some companies are currently doing with their hazardous waste?
While some companies are leading the way in their industries by focusing their efforts on incorporating the highest level of sustainability in their waste management, others are still using open loop recycling concepts.
Open loop recycling delays disposal by converting manufactured goods and spent materials into new raw materials, which can be used for another manufacturing purpose. Materials recycling through open loop recycling are used for purposes other than their original purpose.
Although this form of recycling is more environmentally-friendly than discarding the material at dump sites, it does not reach the highest level of sustainability possible.
One of the most common examples of open loop recycling is fuel blending. Fuel blending is considered to be environmentally-friendly because it delays the disposal of materials.
However, West Coast companies in particular dramatically increase their carbon footprint due to the transportation of that waste to fuel blending sites located across the country. The nearest cement kilns to the West coast are in Kansas and Arkansas.
This old way of thinking can also be costly to companies, since traveling across the country increases transportation costs significantly.
Where Is Zero Waste Recycling Available?
For companies in the western United States, a great option is available through Temarry Recycling, which operates out of San Diego, but has a Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) in Tecate, Mexico.
This state-of-the-art facility incorporates closed loop recycling and provides the most sustainable method of disposal for spent industrial solvents, all while ensuring your company meets its cradle to grave requirements.
As a hazardous waste generator, you are responsible for the proper off-site transportation and disposal of your waste. When transporting hazardous waste to Mexico through Temarry Recycling, your liability for the waste ends at the U.S. border.
It’s there that Temarry becomes the Principal Responsible Party in the U.S. and Recicladora Temarry de Mexico accepts generator liability in Mexico.
Once your waste arrives at Temarry’s facility, it will contribute to the waste to energy portion of the closed loop recycling process.
Our article, The Top 5 Benefits Of Sending Hazardous Waste To Mexico For Recycling, outlines some additional benefits of transporting hazardous waste to Mexico, as well as the safety protocols put into place to ensure all environmental and industry regulations are followed.
Going Zero Waste
Although today’s economic model has a heavier focus on “out with the old, in with the new,” more industry leaders are stepping up and looking for ways to apply the circular economy concept into their business practices.
If your company generates hazardous waste, such as solvent-based materials, going zero waste is a sustainable solution that provides several benefits for your company. These include:
- Reducing your company’s carbon footprint by minimizing waste transportation distance
- Gaining economic incentives through grant, payment and loan programs available through the state of California for companies that improve the sustainability of their waste stream management
- Enhancing your company’s sustainability through preserving more resources and reducing reliance on natural resources
By using cutting-edge technology and forward-thinking solutions, your company can achieve the highest level of sustainability while utilizing environmentally-friendly methods of waste management.