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Industrial & Manufacturing Services Blog

An elementary introduction to treatment technologies

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel

By Amanda Mendonza,Technical Services Representative

In a world of chemical waste there is a diverse support system for helping to manage and treat the waste. Simply treating chemical waste to meet RCRA LDR regulations is no longer the accepted norm. As landfills are filling up and buzz words like "green" and "sustainable" are redesigning the industry, it is important to become familiar with the treatment technologies available. When deciding which treatment technology to utilize, first and foremost, you need to make sure the technology meets the LDR treatment standard for the chemical (40 CFR 268). Below is a brief description of four treatment technologies: incineration, fuel blending, solvent distillation and metals reclamation.

Usually achieved in a high temperature rotary kiln, the main result of incineration is the combustion of organics. If there are no organics, the waste can still potentially be incinerated at an increased cost. However, if the material contains RCRA metals and has no organics then incineration is not an appropriate technology.

Fuel Blending
As it namesake states, this technology is meant for mostly clean fuels (usually organic solvents) with high BTU values to be combined to generate a product sold to customers such as cement kilns as fuel. Although this is not a recycling process, per say, several states recognize this as a stewardship approach to waste management as opposed to incineration and will recognize this technology as such when considering tax breaks.

Solvent Distillation of Solvents from Solid Debris
An alternative to simply combusting solids soaked with or containing high BTU organic solvents is a process known as solvent distillation. Solids, for example rags or wipers, contaminated with solvents are sent into a several-story high distillation unit where high temperatures evaporate off the solvents. These solvent vapors are recondensed and processed as clean fuels. This method reduces the amount of unusable solid waste (ie, rags) and is sometimes considered for state waste minimization tax breaks.

Metals Reclamation

The heavy metals usually get a bad reputation because they don't burn easily and metals stabilization prior to landfill can be a costly management disposal method. However, there is always the possibility of metals reclamation. Of course this option is very dependent on the quantity of recoverable metals present, the current industry monetary value of the metal and the complexity of the waste from which the metals are to be reclaimed. Lead pigs and bricks as well as silver fixers and SRU columns are good candidates for this option. Inorganic and elemental mercury, for example, only have the treatment standard of reclamation. Virtually every time you need to dispose of mercury as a hazardous waste, it will be reclaimed save for a few instances where very low levels of mercury are present in an organic medium. In this case incineration would be a viable option.

Can your Sodium Hydroxide be re-used?

Posted by Mark Campanale

By Dave Williamson, Industrial Account Manager

sodium hydroxideOne man's garbage is another's gold. Everyday companies are continually trying to become "greener" and everyday someone is shipping sodium hydroxide as hazardous waste for disposal. Want to look like a hero in your EH&S program by reducing your hazardous waste? Of course who doesn't? In many cases sodium hydroxide can be re-used in a process as a substitute to a commercial chemical product.

The best case scenario for re-use is unused sodium hydroxide. However, let's say it is spent with a ph over 12.5. After a few tests are run to see quality standard a determination can be made. Or it could even be solid sodium hydroxide. As long as it is water soluble it can be re-used. When can it not be recycled? Sodium hydroxide can not be recycled when it has high metals content or organic contaminants.

When transported it will still be considered a hazardous material but not a hazardous waste. The proper shipping name would be Sodium Hydroxide for recycling. When it comes time to do your next bi-annual report there will be no need to report this and it will show that your company shipped less hazardous waste. That might be worth mentioning come your next yearly evaluation.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle : An Industrial Blog

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel

By Marissa Palisoul, Technical Services Representative

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It's the mantra recognizable by its distinct the arrows in the triangular pattern. But how does it apply to the industry and manufacturing?

Reduce your waste. Closely monitor your inventory supply and look for ways to improve your process. Research is key! Can you switch to a water based, or less toxic ingredient? Can you switch to synthetic oil and extend the time between oil changes just a bit? Buy only what you need so that you do not have to worry about expired unused chemicals.

Reuse what you can. Again, do your research! I read that you can extend the life of buffered hydrogen fluoride (BHF) in semiconductor manufacturing with ammonia and water evaporated from the BHF. The etch rate can be maintained and the BHF is reused when it was previously only used once per application. Do your research, there is information out there that pertains to you.

Recycle is the golden child of the three. There is recycling in the traditional sense, where you might send your spent oil for fuels blending and it is recycled as a fuel. Or perhaps you send your fluorescent light ballasts/electronics to a facility where it is dismantled and the parts are recycled separately. However, there are other wastes, that are not hazardous wastes, that also have the ability to be recycled. I have a client who sells the crushed glass from flawed products on their line to another consumer who makes something new out of their waste.

The EPA even has a Resource Conservation Challenge where they help you recycle these types of wastes. Commonly coal ash, foundry sand, and construction debris are the most popular items recycled as part of the challenge ( Also check out New Hampshire's Certified Waste Derived Products Program to see what products are available for your use, or submit your own product for distribution to others ( Don't forget to see what is available in your own state.

If you do your research, the 3 R's might save you a little green, which is something we all need in this tough economy!