Creative, but pragmatic, hazardous waste solutions


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Even the smallest change to a company’s routine can mean a world of difference for the health of the environment — and for the health of the company’s budget.

In the view of Loureiro Engineering Associates, there is always a creative solution to cut back on pollution and hazardous waste output, reducing costs at the same time.

“It really comes down to being pragmatic in resource management,” said Todd Dresser, senior project manager at the Manchester-based firm, who orchestrates many of the solutions that the company offers to its clients for diminishing costs and waste.

He said the basics of Loureiro’s hazardous waste-cutting strategies come down to limiting excess ordering and improving inventory management. More than 35 percent of the materials disposed of as hazardous waste in the country are excess or entirely unopened materials.

Much of the problem can be solved by regulating what is ordered, and the simple changes suggested by Loureiro can achieve this regulation in a comprehensive way.

For example, cultivating good communication between different departments can encourage shared use of chemicals, said Dresser. Splitting up inventory management into several groups allows the expiration dates and amounts of each substance to be watched even more closely. 

Unique solutions

Reducing the amount of hazardous waste serves many purposes, said Dresser.

For example, fewer substances need to be shipped out of state, reducing the fuel used and the carbon dioxide emitted. In addition, The company’s liability is greatly reduced, and much less hazardous material with the potential of damaging the environment is burned or stored.

Though many suggestions can apply to almost any client, Loureiro has found plenty of solutions unique to each business that comes looking for assistance in cutting hazardous waste output.

Dresser recalled a semiconductor manufacturer that used methanol to clean parts of its machinery that were already relatively clean. Once the methanol had been used, it had to be discarded and deemed hazardous waste. The manufacturer routinely spent thousands of dollars to dispose of the methanol. 

Dresser recognized that methanol is an ingredient used in windshield washer fluid, so he arranged a partnership through which the manufacturer sold its excess methanol to a windshield washer fluid producer. 

“This saved the [semiconductor manufacturer] a significant amount of money and reduced their regulatory burden while also promoting a more efficient use of resources for all parties involved,” said Dresser.

Of course, it can occasionally be difficult to overcome the stubbornness of some clients, since they can be unwilling to give up methods they have been using for years. But when resistance to change is left behind, Dresser said, the results are well worth it for both the environment and the client. 

“Every company can prevent pollution and be sustainable,” he said.

The “Just One Thing” Campaign is an 18-month effort of New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility. Its purpose is to challenge businesses to consider incorporating a sustainability initiative into their operations. Companies can celebrate their achievements and inspire others by sharing their stories on the campaign’s webpage. To submit your story or read others, visit nhbsr.org/jot.

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