The circular economy is designed to benefit businesses, society and the environment. For the hazardous waste industry, however, the circular economy offers a unique opportunity to help prevent the depletion of vital and non-renewable natural resources.
What is the circular economy? The circular economy focuses on eliminating waste and the unnecessary use of resources. The goal is to use as few resources as possible by keeping materials in circulation and getting the greatest value from them.
For manufacturers that generate solvent waste, incorporating circular economy practices into the disposal of spent solvents can have a significant impact.
Reducing The Strain On Natural Resources
Perhaps the greatest impact of the circular economy model is how it works to reduce the strain on natural resources.
The world’s current “take, make and dispose” economic model relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy. This is known as a traditional linear economy business model. Businesses that operate under this approach experience many challenges, including unpredictable raw material prices and high costs of constrained resources.
Consider these alarming stats:
- The United Nations projects that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity.
- Scientists from the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative predict we could run out of phosphorus in 50 to 100 years unless new reserves of the element are found.
- Rystad Energy estimates that the world has about 2,092 billion barrels of oil reserves, or just 70 years’ worth of oil at today’s production rate of 30 billion barrels per year.
Today, manufacturers are now trying to discover new and sustainable means of optimizing existing processes for designing and developing new products. They are doing this in part by incorporating the “make, use and return” economic model that the circular economy promotes.
So what does this look like in the world of hazardous waste? Temarry Recycling has developed a closed loop system that takes an existing physical product (industrial solvents) and recycles it using a closed-loop process with useful waste byproduct.
The closed loop system includes three stages that embrace the circular economy and zero waste movements:
- Waste to Energy: Converts high BTU organic solids to steam to be used as energy on site
- Solvent Distillation: Utilizes the steam from WTE as energy to power the recovery stills. By distillation, spent solvents are re-manufactured and sold back into industry for their original solvent properties.
- Water Treatment: 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 including WTE and the cooling tower.
By recycling these solvents, companies can embrace circular economic principles, keep materials in use indefinitely and ease the burden on natural resources.
Keeping Costs Down And Staying Competitive
For companies that operate on the West Coast, sending their hazardous waste to Temarry can help them save significantly on transportation costs.
Many hazardous waste disposal companies offer fuel blending to their generator clients. This process involves combining spent solvents with compatible flammable materials. Tanker trucks filled with these blended materials are transported to the Midwest where the materials are processed and used as a fuel source for cement kilns.
For generators located in the western United States, having a facility that provides closed loop recycling nearby can offer economic benefits. Temarry operates a Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) just across the U.S.-Mexico border in Tecate, Mexico.
This close proximity provides a significant reduction in transport distance of the waste stream (considering the closest cement kilns are in Kansas and Missouri), allowing companies to utilize less fuel and to save more in transportation costs.
This benefit may also help companies save costs in the long run by doing their part to help reduce the reliance on unpredictable raw material prices and the high costs of constrained resources.
A boosted public image for companies that achieve higher sustainability can also help companies stay more competitive, as can job growth and material costs savings. In fact, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, economic growth can be achieved through a combination of increased revenues from emerging circular activities and lower costs of production. These would then have a ripple effect through all sectors of the economy, adding to overall economic growth.
Reducing Cradle To Grave Liability
Taking advantage of circular economic concepts in waste management has another important benefit for many companies, especially those located along the West Coast.
Temarry is an EPA-authorized exporter of hazardous waste, and the circular economic concepts that Temarry embraces allows companies to reduce their cradle to grave liability.
Cradle to grave responsibility is used to describe the fact that any person who generates a waste material that is classified as a hazardous substance is responsible for that waste from the time it is generated until it is disposed of legally and safely.
The cradle to grave system is a provision within RCRA that focuses on the management of hazardous waste. There is no time limit or expiration date that will release a generator from this long-term management responsibility.
When transporting hazardous waste to Mexico, through Temarry Recycling, the waste generator’s liability for that waste ends at the U.S. border. At the border, Temarry Recycling becomes the Principal Responsible Party in the U.S. and Recicladora Temarry de Mexico accepts generator liability in Mexico.
In other words, the moment your shipment crosses the border, all future liability from the waste stream is eliminated.
Helping Companies Reduce Their Carbon Footprint
Companies that generate hazardous waste and send their spent solvents to Temarry Recycling may also see another type of impact - on their carbon footprint.
West Coast companies that transport their solvent waste across the country to fuel blending sites not only see hefty fuel costs, but hefty carbon footprint as well because of the burning of fossil fuels for diesel fuel.
Because of the shorter transport distance, West Coast companies can expect to not only save money on fuel, but reduce their carbon footprint, as shown in the graphic below.
A Significant Impact On Hazardous Waste
While the circular economy is designed to benefit businesses, society and the environment in multiple ways, for companies that generate hazardous waste, this forward-thinking model offers a unique opportunity.
For companies that generate solvent waste in particular, incorporating circular economic practices into the disposal of those wastes can have many lasting impacts, from reducing costs and carbon footprints to reducing liability for that waste.
The cutting-edge technology offered at Temarry Recycling embraces the circular economy while offering companies real advantages that help put them on the leading edge.