How Waste Disposal Is Moving Towards The Circular Economy

Posted by Larry Burton on Apr 30, 2020 11:00:00 AM

If you could design waste out of your business, would you? 

Increased sustainability, cost savings and reduced consumption of natural resources … these are just a few of the benefits companies see when they convert waste to energy rather than use traditional waste disposal methods like landfills and fuel blending.

For companies that generate hazardous waste, in particular, keeping their dangerous waste out of landfills helps protect the environment while giving them a competitive edge. 

These companies aren’t few and far between. In fact, the push toward a waste-free economy is catching on as more companies are embracing a circular economy, an economic system that focuses on eliminating waste and the unnecessary use of resources.

Here’s how waste disposal is moving toward the circular economy and what it can do for your company. 

 

The Old Way Of Thinking

 

Waste management plays an important role in the sustainability of a company. Many companies that generate hazardous waste and must dispose of their solvent-based liquids, solids and sludge take advantage of an open loop recycling process. 

Open loop recycling is a method that delays disposal by converting manufactured goods and spent materials into new raw materials, which can be used for another manufacturing purpose. In other words, materials recycled through open loop recycling will be used for purposes different from their original purpose.  

One of the most common examples of open loop recycling is fuel blending. Although fuel blending is considered to be an environmentally-friendly option because it delays the disposal of materials, West Coast companies dramatically increase their carbon footprint due to the transportation of that waste to fuel blending sites across the country. That is because the nearest cement kilns from the western United States are in Kansas and Arkansas.

This old way of thinking can be costly to companies. Traveling across the country not only increases a company’s carbon footprint through the burning of fossil fuels for diesel fuel, it also increases transportation costs substantially.

towards the circular economy

The New Way Of Thinking

 

In an effort to reduce costs and increase sustainability, more companies are beginning to embrace circular economy concepts when it comes to their waste management. 

In contrast to open loop recycling, closed loop recycling is a restorative and regenerative process. It aims to keep materials at their highest utility and value always.

This type of thought focuses on resource sustainability by recycling a material indefinitely without degradation of properties, creating a circular economy.

Closed loop recycling isn’t limited to waste disposal. Many specialized industries embrace circular economy concepts, such as the computer and battery industries, which use expensive or complex goods that cannot easily be broken down post-consumption into constituent materials.

In waste management, an example of a closed loop process that is gaining traction is taking an existing physical product, like industrial solvents, and recycling them in order to make a useful waste byproduct. 

Here’s how it works: 

  • Waste to Energy - A waste to energy process converts high BTU organic solids to steam that is then used as energy on-site.
  • Solvent Distillation - The solvent distillation process uses the steam generated by the waste to energy process as energy to power recovery stills. Through distillation, spent solvents are re-manufactured and sold back into industry for their original solvent properties.
  • Water Treatment - The final arc to creating this example of a circular economy occurs during a water treatment process. This process extracts usable water from industrial hazardous wastes, including acids, bases, coolants, oily water and latex paint. Treated water is used on-site for industrial needs that include the waste to energy process and in the cooling tower.

 

Benefits For A Company

 

Towards the circular economyAccording to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, if companies focus on building circular supply chains, more than $1 trillion a year could be generated globally by 2025, along with 100,000 new jobs.

Updating your waste disposal plans to incorporate circular economy concepts can be beneficial not only for the environment, but for meeting a company’s long-term sustainability and financial goals as well. 

For West Coast companies, in particular, choosing a company like Temarry Recycling to manage their industrial solvent waste allows them to not only reduce their transportation costs but increase their sustainability as well. Temarry operates a state-of-the-art facility located about 40 miles east of San Diego, CA in Tecate, Mexico

This significantly reduces the transport distance of the waste stream, therefore reducing a generator’s carbon footprint and transportation costs. 

You can read more about the benefits of having this facility nearby in our article, The Top 5 Benefits Of Sending Hazardous Waste To Mexico For Recycling.

In what other ways, is moving a company’s waste disposal towards the circular economy beneficial? Yes.

Companies can enjoy a boost in image when their sustainability goals help set an industry standard. Don’t underestimate the power of good publicity … consumers care about their purchases and a recent NMI Solutions survey found more than 50% of consumers are more likely to purchase goods from a sustainable company.

Companies that choose to work with Temarry will also see a reduction in “cradle to grave” liability. As an EPA authorized exporter of hazardous waste, Temarry assumes liability for a company’s waste stream once it crosses the Mexican border. 

 

No Limited Options

 

Although many hazardous waste generators believe there are limited options when it comes to the disposal of their spent industrial solvents, that’s simply not the case. 

Although some companies still operate under the premise, “out with the old, in with the new,” when it comes to how they utilize resources and dispose of their waste, the only thing that should be “out” is that way of thinking. 

Embracing circular economy concepts into waste disposal methods is a win-win for everyone... companies, their customers and the environment.

 

Solvent Distillation and Energy Recovery Process

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