EMS – Tips to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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One of the challenges of managing an environmental program at a facility is the management of waste.  The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was passed in 1976 with the intent of protecting public health and the environment from the harmful effects of solid and hazardous wastes generated at a facility.  Environmental Management Systems (EMS) should have a program to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle products to minimize waste streams generated.

Reduce:

  • Evaluate the products used at your facility and eliminate the use of multiple products for similar uses. For products that will generate a hazardous waste stream upon disposal, look for more environmentally friendly alternatives.
  • Purchase products in appropriately sized containers, taking into account consumption rates. Expired products, that no longer have a use, may need to be disposed of as a waste product.
  • Consider eliminating hardcopies of many documents and storing documents produced electronically.

Reuse:

  • Evaluate and reuse products and chemicals where possible. Products that are reused are not classified as a waste stream.
  • Evaluate the use of a filtration system for maintenance activities. A filtration system can extend the useful life of oil and other lubricants.

Recycle:

  • Set up a recycling program for your facility. You can start simply then expand to other recyclable items as the program matures.  Recyclable items may include paper, cardboard, aluminum, steel, tires, lead-acid batteries, and plastics to name a few.
  • Evaluate and consider recycling petroleum and antifreeze products. A recycling program will not only reduce waste streams, but may also generate additional income for the facility.
  • Evaluate the possibility of recycling totes and containers. Contact the chemical manufacturers or distributers to determine the viability of returning the totes for recycling.