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Industrial & Manufacturing Services Blog

Guerilla tactics used in global environmental regulation enforcement

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel

By Joe Caliri, Account Manager

Earlier this month the Boston Globe published a story about 9 truck-size shipping containers filled with old televisions from a Massachusetts recycling firm, that were seized by local port officials. These containers were initially sent to Indonesia for “re-use” or “recycle”, which in theory seems to be a globally sustainable resource exchange practice.

“E-waste” (electronic), categorized as a regulated or universal waste by the EPA, consists of everything from televisions, computer scrap, batteries, and in some cases mercury containing devices. The issue at hand with the export of this material overseas is that this E-waste contains toxins, that when not processed properly, pose serious health risks to humans.

This E-waste is certainly picked for all of the re-usable metals and components from countries that lack these natural resources, and yield far higher value overseas than here domestically. The horrific downside of this practice is that the process of recycling is sometimes nothing more than manual dismantle, without any personal protective equipment or regard for potential environmental impacts. Recently, 60 Minutes’-“The Wasteland” actually investigated one of these E-scrap towns in China which resembled what could be described as a post-apocalyptic environment, with a constant toxic fog and extremely contaminated water.

Ultimately these 9 containers were turned back by the Indonesian government on a tip from a U.S. based environmental group (BASEL), seized by the local port authority, and investigated by the U.S. EPA. The United States has not ratified the Basel Convention treaty, a 172-nation pact to prevent the transfer of hazardous waste from developed countries to less-developed ones.

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.