The Pollution Prevention Act
The Pollution Prevention Act is a piece of the U.S. legislation targeted at offering new measures for reducing the environmental threat caused by anthropogenic factors. It relates to other laws aiming to protect the environment, which can be applied differently depending on the industry. The Congress has passed the Act after years of research and political attempts to control pollution levels. The main difference of this law compared to the previous legislation is that it aims to reduce pollution at source rather than manage waste at the final stage of a production process.
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The history of evaluating harm to nature caused by people is not very long, counting just over five decades. In 1962, Rachel Carson published the research that examined the effect which pesticides and technological tools had on the environment (Ashby, 2013, p. 100).
This became one of the first works in the long list of findings, which showed the extent of consequences for nature from industrial manufacturing, agriculture, and individual consumption traits. The process of recognizing this threat was rather slow and had several phases. The shift went from ignoring the situation by major industry players to the current state of looking for ways to reach sustainability throughout all processes (Ashby, 2013, p. 101). Nowadays, there are various programs that support the eco-friendly tendencies among production owners and customers.
The growing awareness of this problem has made governments of many countries to pass laws for solving the issue. In the United States, the overview of the previous legislation shows that the government used to enforce measures that would deal with pollution control which occurred at the final stage of production processes. For example, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which was amended by Congress in 1984, stated that the amount of potentially hazardous waste had to be minimized if the option was available (Cheremisinoff & Cheremisinoff, 1995, p. 107). The focus of the Act was on steps taken to manage waste.
However, in October 1986, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the report called Minimization of Hazardous Wastes” that was presented to the Congress (Cheremisinoff & Cheremisinoff, 1995, p. 109). The key points of that work showed that waste management, as well as other pollution control measures, were not effective enough. The agency called for drafting a program that would minimize waste generation at the earlier stages of production.
The next year, the report issued by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) published the research of waste reduction efficiency (Cheremisinoff & Cheremisinoff, 1995, p. 109). The findings suggested that controlling waste generation on each of the production stages resulted not only in better environmental outcomes but also in economic benefits. The biggest issue, according to the researchers, was the system that did not let production owners know about the better ways of organizing their manufacturing processes, while the technological development of that time allowed to implement new techniques of source reduction.
The described works became a platform for developing a piece of legislation that would raise awareness among industry workers about pollution reduction, as well as help them with technologies and financing required for implementing new strategies. The Pollution Prevention Act was discussed in the Congress in the autumn of 1990. There is no record of individual voting results, as the process was conducted by voice.
The Act passed the Congress and was signed by George H. W. Bush in November 1990. According to the Act’s findings, the Environmental Protection Agency is in charge of developing a program that would provide informational, technical, and financial support to States (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1999, p. 5968). EPA also administrates strategic programs like the Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade signed in 2015.
Ashby, M. F. (2013). Materials and the environment: Eco-informed material choice (2nd ed.). Waltham, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Cheremisinoff, N. P., & Cheremisinoff, P. N. (1995). Hazardous materials and waste management: A guide for the professional hazards manager. Park Ridge, NJ: Noyes Publications.
U.S. Government Printing Office [GPO]. (1999). Chapter 133 – Pollution prevention. Web.
Stockholm Convention Principle 21
In the 1960’s, the United Nations representatives realized that the rapidly changing state of the environment required a series of goals and strategies for preventing further pollution growth. The process of globalization, which was started to develop fast in those years, also played its role since environmental issues could not be solved anymore only by measures taken inside a single state. By the end of the decade, the UN’s General Assembly offered two resolutions that contained a declaration to hold an international conference in Stockholm in 1972 (Handl, n. d., para.3). It became the first global event that discussed the issues concerning the state of the environment with such dimension.
Since there was no previous experience of discussing environmental safety issues on such a wide level, members of the Stockholm conference faced the issue of how specific their offers had to be. As a result, the conference ended with creating a document that described standards declaring the importance of sustainable production, pollution control, and other matters associated with nature preservation. Those standards were called “principles,” the total number of which was twenty-six. The last six principles differ from the others since they have an international dimension and declare ways, in which different countries must act regarding the matter.
Principle 21 is, perhaps, one of the most fundamental international standards, as its purpose is to set a standard for sustainable operations inside a country that might affect other states. In general, it declares that countries’ authorities have the right to use natural resources with accordance to their environmental legislation while ensuring that their actions do not harm other states (Declaration of the United Nations conference on the human environment, 1972).
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In other words, governments were charged with international responsibility for their actions regarding the environment. This principle is one of the most interesting ones from the point of the international legislation development. It is now viewed as a customary international environmental law that various states accept to follow in addition to their local jurisdiction (Shelton, 2008, para. 17). This condition created many debates around the Principle 21 before it could be accepted. Many states’ representatives found the nature of the obligation to be somehow confusing and unspecific. While some conference members discussed the concept of sovereignty, others linked the responsibility principle to the existing norms of the international legislation.
Since Principle 21, along with the whole document, became one of the first ones of its kind, it does not provide any specific details on how countries must ensure environmental safety. It is rather an acknowledgment that every state is responsible for the global nature preservation. At the time of its declaration, Principle 21 raised questions about the legal nature of its obligation, but nowadays it has become an essential part of the international law (Handl, n. d., para. 11).
The principle had a huge effect on the way governments today think about their strategies of sustainable development (Ashby, 2013, p. 100). In my opinion, the importance of this standard lies in the idea that there exists a shared responsibility for the planet’s wellbeing. While every country has a right to raise its prosperity level by using local natural resources, the economic growth must not cost other territories their environmental safety. Principle 21 is also useful because it sets the base for drafting future laws that would utilize the idea of shared responsibility regarding sustainability.
Ashby, M. F. (2013). Materials and the environment: Eco-informed material choice (2nd ed.). Waltham, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Declaration of the United Nations conference on the human environment. (1972). Report of the United Nations Conference on the human environment.
Handl, G. (n. d.). Declaration of the United Nations conference on the human environment. Web.
Shelton, D. (2008). Stockholm declaration (1972) and Rio declaration (1992). Web.
Cotton Shirt Life Cycle
Life cycles of different products vary depending on many factors, and it is important to understand what happens at each stage, for example, to perform an accurate eco-audit. According to the theory, a life cycle of every product includes material production, manufacturing, use, and disposal (Ashby, 2013, p. 52). All these stages are additionally associated with transportation resources and emissions. Below is a description of the life cycle of a cotton shirt, including all possible resource inputs and emissions that happen at each step.
The first stage is the production of materials required for tailoring a shirt. People are familiar with using cotton for making clothes for many centuries. It may seem like a very basic material that does not take much input in its production. However, there are many resources required from the beginning, where cotton is a product of agriculture. Growing it requires at least water and sun energy. Farmers need to protect their fields from plant pathologies, so pesticides and insecticides are widely used. In fact, the cotton sector is accounted for using around ten percent of all agricultural chemicals (“Cotton,” n. d., para. 1).
Collecting cotton by hand in modern times is rare, and this task is performed by machinery run on fuel. As a result, the soil and air become contaminated with CO2 and the products of chemical reactions. Nowadays, there is a tendency of growing cotton in a sustainable way, but the percentage of it remains rather small since the outcomes for farmers are less predictable, and the economic benefit is not as obvious (Marie, 2017, para. 4). Finally, cotton is transported for the further production of fabric.
Apart from the cotton fabric, a classical shirt requires buttons, which are nowadays often made of polymers. This step requires resources like oil for the polymer production itself, as well as the fossil fuel energy for transportation purposes. Another material required for crafting a shirt is dye. Historically, people used natural pigments for dying their clothes. Currently, they are often substituted with chemical formulas for creating a long-term color stay. Depending on the color, different compounds are used, which puts chemicals and water among additional resource inputs. If a manufacturing process is poorly controlled, this stage may result in water pollution, as used solutes are damped in natural reservoirs like rivers and lakes.
The product manufacturing stage is focused around cotton fabric being tailored into a shirt. Production workers utilize pre-made particles like fabric, threads, and buttons, to create the final item. Energy resources that are required at this stage are associated with this work. For example, it is the electricity used for running sewing machines, lighting the working space, ironing shirts, as well as for other operations. Emissions are represented mostly by fabric leftovers, which are usually recycled to be used for creating other products. Transporting shirts to warehouses and stores is a source of large CO2 emission, especially if production takes place far from the retail spot.
The stage of product use varies in its duration. Some people may wear a favorite shirt for decades, while others change them every season. Since shirts have to be washed occasionally, most resources required at this stage are associated with laundry. Water, electricity, and detergent are used as a part of cleaning a shirt in a washing machine. Low-grade heat and contaminated water are among the emissions that happen during the product’s use.
Finally, there are many ways of how this type of shirt can be disposed. Usually, clothes made of natural fabrics are recycled to provide materials for further tailoring. Recycled cotton is currently a popular option among brands that view sustainability as one of their principles. Recycling processes utilize electricity, fossil fuel energy for transportation purposes, water resources, and other materials required for maintaining the machinery. Unfortunately, some companies may burn shirts that were not sold, which results in CO2 emissions. People as individual users may either bring their shirt to a recycling spot, use it to craft new items like blankets, or simply throw it away. The latter option may lead to soil contamination at waste collection spots.
Ashby, M. F. (2013). Materials and the environment: Eco-informed material choice (2nd ed.). Waltham, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Cotton. (n. d.) Web.
Marie, G. (2017). The low-down on sustainable cotton. Huffington Post. Web.
Smart Phone Recycling
A smart phone is a product that most people have nowadays. Prices on these devices vary depending on the model and the brand. Companies that sell smart phones create new versions frequently. For example, Apple Inc. presents a new iPhone every year. This strategy is designed to stimulate buyer behavior, making customers purchase new devices and dispose the old ones. It is common to sell an old smart phone over the Internet or give it away to children. However, if the old phone is broken, it cannot be transferred to another person for usage since it does not function properly.
If the damage is not crucial, I will take my smart phone to a fixing point, where broken parts can be repaired or substituted. At the same time, if the device cannot be recovered, I would have to dispose of it. Having a completely broken smart phone usually means that I would need a new device. Since prices on them are rather high, I would typically try to get profit out of the broken item. Many places like electronics fixing points require details for repair. Managers often buy broken devices if there are parts that are valuable and still functioning.
I have recently discovered that some stores and electronics producers in my community offer recycling options for smart phones. For example, Best Buy, a nationwide retailer, allows choosing between in-store, event, or online options. The information on the company’s website states that free recycling is available for resident individuals with a maximum of three items from a household in a day (“Electronics and appliances recycling at Best Buy,” n. d.).
More information about places that accept used electronics can be found on the official website of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“Electronics donation and recycling,” n. d.). In addition, the page gives valuable advice to people who think about disposing their electronic devices. Those, who wish to find local end-of-life programs for computers, televisions, and other technologies, may also study the E-Cycling service.
The end-of-life options are represented by re-use, re-engineering, recycling, combustion, and landfill, with the latter being the least favorable. Although landfill is the destiny of most used products nowadays, the capacity of territories is limited, and governments charge taxes for dumping waste (Ashby, 2013, p. 81). In the case of a broken smart phone, the end-of-life scenario would strongly depend on the damage type. Re-use or re-engineering is possible if, for instance, the only required fixing is to substitute a broken glass on display. This step does not require any special infrastructure except for repair spots.
A smart phone contains different materials, many of which are valuable. EPA has published the infographics, where the composition of the main parts is described (“The secret life of a smart phone,” 2016). For example, circuit boards contain precious metals that can be collected after recycling. The infographics explain that a million of recycled smart phones contains as much as 75 pounds of gold. Other metals include copper, silver, and palladium, which makes circuit boards so expensive and valuable. LCD displays can also be recycled, as they are made of glass, plastic, and liquid crystalline. Finally, smart phones have lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, which are also subject to recycling. Most people are aware that batteries can heavily contaminate soil if sent as waste for landfill. Nowadays, there are many spots where batteries may be given away for recycling separately from a device.
Electronics and appliances recycling at Best Buy. (n. d.). Web.
Electronics donation and recycling. (n. d.). Web.
The secret life of a smart phone. (2016). United States Environmental Protection Agency. Web.
A pollution prevention audit is one of the tools that are helpful in changing industrial production processes to make them more sustainable. While it may look similar to eco-auditing, its focus is much broader. As Cheremisinoff defines it, a P2 audit helps to reduce the amount of released pollutant substances, hazards associated with health and environment, and increases the efficiency of raw material usage or protects natural resources (2002a, p. 24). In other words, the focus is not only on energy inputs and CO2 emissions but rather on balancing resources at each stage of a production process.
Below is a P2 audit for the standard HDPE bag production. These polyethylene bags are widespread in grocery shops and are usually made for single use. The steps for this P2 audit are chosen based on the specifics of the manufacturing process (Cheremisinoff, 2002b). For example, the HDPE bag production does not require significant amounts of water. As a result, steps that are associated with water usage are not included.
Steps chosen for the initial and the final phases are roughly general and can be applied to any industry. The Phase II steps are focusing on inputs and outputs of the process, and the creation of the material balance sheet. Evaluating material balances is not possible due to the lack of the actual observed data from a real production site, so this stage is omitted. The step of targeting and characterizing problem wastes presents theoretical assumptions on material or energy losses at certain stages that should be eliminated.
Audit Focus and Preparation
The first task is to identify the scope of the P2 audit, its purposes, and goals. Preparation would include assembling the team, defining objectives, and getting employees participating in the process.
Assemble the audit team
Invite head managers of every operational unit that have an in-depth knowledge of the processes they control. Include a specialist who is in charge of controlling the health and environmental safety on the site, who has measurements of waste and pollution amounts. Also, invite specialists from the accounting department to help set up a budget for required changes that would be found necessary at the end of the audit.
Define the audit objectives
- To allocate any problem waste or material and/or energy loss at each step of the HDPE bag production process.
- To reduce pollution levels and eliminate any excess inputs or outputs by using low-cost/no-cost means.
- To upgrade production to a more sustainable level by the end of the fiscal year.
Gain employee buy-in and participation
Every employee is encouraged to share ideas and recommendations for process improvement. Best ideas are to be discussed and applied at the end of the audit if found useful for reaching the defined goals. All employees that actively participate in the process will receive extra payment before Christmas holidays. A worker who offers a low-cost/no-cost solution for an issue at his or her unit will be regarded as a candidate for promotion.
List of the Unit Operations
The HDPE bag manufacturing process has four stages (Gopura & Jayawardene, 2009, p. 2):
- Film extrusion. Plastic pellets are melted in a single screw extruder and extended radially forming a bubble. The film is collected by nip rolls that are carried away for storage or subsequent transformation.
- Printing. The film is passed through a series of flexographic rollers that stamp text and/or image on it. The paint is made of the alcohol-based ink, which is safer than toxic chemical dye.
- Cutting and sealing. Two printed pieces of film are pressed together at the edges under high temperature to make them sealed. The item is later cut according to the desired model.
- Packaging. Ready-to-use HDPE bags are collected in stacks and packaged in a polyethylene cover. Other types of packaging are rarely used as it usually requires ordering and shipping them from side facilities.
Constructing Process Flow Sheets
The process flow sheet is made in a form of a diagram that helps to understand every stage by presenting a visual algorithm of the product’s transformation. In addition, process inputs and outputs are drawn for each box representing a unit operation. The process of making HDPE bags is represented by a linear sequence of four operations, each using outputs of a previous stage as an input resource. The step of sealing and cutting creates HDPE leftovers, which are later recycled or used for other products, which has to be marked on the scheme. Process flow sheets must be both printed and constructed using a computer program so that it is easy to include changes or comments to it as new data appears during the audit.
The In-Plant Assessment
Determining the Inputs
The inputs are determined for the functional unit of 1000 HDPE bags with the mass of 7 grams each. Since the plant receives PE in a form of plastic pellets, the inputs for the primary material production are disregarded. The end-of-life scenarios are also not taken into consideration except for the recycling of leftovers, so there is a calculation of an energy input for this process.
Determine the inputs to unit operations
The process flow sheet shows that each production stage, starting from the second, uses material results from the previous one. In addition:
- Inputs for film blowing include PE pellets and the energy to mold them, to run the nip rolls and to blow air into the system.
- Printing stage uses electricity to run the flexographic rollers and tanks filled with alcohol-based ink.
- Cutting and sealing required electrical energy inputs to run the machinery.
Consider the energy inputs
1000 bags weigh 7 kg. The polymer molding energy is 24 MJ per kg average (Ashby, 2013, p. 499). If considered, that no extra film is being cut off, then 168 MJ are required to mold pellets at the first stage. Other energy inputs that are required for running the machinery are calculated based on the appliances’ electricity consumption levels.
If the cutting takes place, leftover parts of the film are later recycled. The energy for PE recycling is 50 MJ per kg average (Ashby, 2013, p. 499). If, for instance, 10% of the 7g film is cut off to make a bag, then 1000 items produce 0,7kg of leftovers. The energy for their recycling is then 35 MJ.
Quantifying Process Outputs
Process outputs, depending on the stage, are represented by the film, the printed film, and the stacks of bags, cut, sealed, and packaged. HDPE bag production is associated with CO2 emissions at the molding stage. The value is 1,8 kg CO2 average per 1 kg of molded PE (Ashby, 2013, p. 499). As a result, it creates 12,6 kg of this greenhouse gas to mold PE pellets to make 7 kg of film.
Construct a Material Balance Information Sheet
- Measure the mass of plastic pellets that are put in the extruder for film blowing. The next step is to measure the mass of the film roll that has been collected as a result. Calculate the difference and compare it to the theoretical values.
- Measure the volume of dye in a tank and evaluate how many prints it can be used for. Compare the value with the number of actual prints that are made before the dye ends.
- Weigh the rolls of printed film before cutting and sealing. Measure the weight of the functional unit and the leftovers after the process. There should not be any difference.
- The weight of the packaged functional unit must increase by the value of packaging mass.
The process of making HDPE bags is not associated with significant material loss, so the difference between input and output at each stage must be minimum.
Synthesis, Benchmarking, and Corrective Actions
The material loss during the HDPE production is usually associated with poor resource handling. If the mass of plastic pellets put in the film blowing extruder is less than the plant has received, there must be an issue at the storage point. If the dye runs out before the calculated amount of film is printed, there must be a leakage. The easiest recommendations for this production process include:
- Storing PE pellet packages in transportable containers so that small particles are not lost while carrying the material from one unit to another.
- Printing large portions of the film with the same colors instead of frequently changing the dye in a tank for a small number of bags. The step helps to reduce the dye waste that must be drained before new pigment fills the tank.
Targeting and Characterizing Problem Wastes
Two potentially problem waste groups are excess dye from the printing stage and film leftovers from the cutting operation. Besides, the alcohol-based ink requires chemical solvents with different speed of action, depending on the image space and the temperature inside a printing unit. These solvents evaporate in the air if the tank system is not closed, which presents a threat to workers’ health.
Developing Long-Term Waste Reduction Options
Film leftovers cannot be reduced significantly as the technological process of making HDPE bags does not allow the PE pellets to be molded directly to a final shape of the object. However, there is a potential to use the material again after the recycling process. There should be a mechanical system that allows all film leftovers to be collected without a loss for the following recycling. The printing unit must be a spacious room with closed-system ink reservoirs. The unit must be supplied by the latest technical equipment to clean the air from solvent vapor emissions.
Cheremisinoff, N. P. (2002a). How to conduct a pollution prevention audit – Part 1: Do an audit in-house and avoid surprises. Pollution Engineering, 34(3), 24-28.
Cheremisinoff, N. P. (2002b). Conduct a pollution prevention audit – Part 2: Do an audit in-house and avoid surprises. Pollution Engineering, 34(4), 16-19.
Gopura, R. C., & Jayawardene T. S. S. (2009). A study on a poly-bag manufacturing system preliminary analysis and simulation. Industrial and Information Systems (ICIIS) Conference. Web.
Pollution Prevention Practices in Oregon’s Electronics Industry
The electronic industry carries many risks for the environment and its workers. The article discusses research conducted in the electronics production sector of Oregon (Jones & Harding, 1997). The survey aimed to discover whether there were any pollution prevention practices implemented in the studied facilities, what was their effect, and what was the level of interest for those changes among the industry members. The researchers have found that almost half of the facilities tried to substitute hazardous materials with safer versions, with worker safety, ethics, and commercial benefits being among the primary reasons.
The primary benefit from using P2 in the electronics industry is caring for workers by supporting their health during a production process. The industry is associated with hazardous waste that comes from using solvents and heavy metals. For example, the production of circuit boards is associated with chemicals that may cause issues with a reproductive system. Another benefit is cost saving that came as a result of effective new products and resource management. Electronics made with safer compounds performed well and saved worker time. Finally, adopting sustainable production practices helps companies in raising their public image.
There were some process modifications and chemical substitutions mentioned among the attempts to become more environmentally friendly. For example, one way to reduce sandblasting and cropping, which are a part of the silicon chip production, is to control formations of crystal growth. Another process modification is to use computers for slicing wafers so that items become thinner and more uniform. Chlorofluorocarbons were presented as an example of a chemical substitution. Ammonia and sulfur dioxide had been replaced by this compound. Also, there was an example of switching from freon products and degreasers to high-temperature water.
The costs of making a switch towards pollution prevention differed for organizations. Some admitted that adopting changes in processes or substituting hazardous materials had resulted in reduced cost of production. Besides, a good public image that came as a result of those changes assisted in acquiring new markets. At the same time, other companies were not satisfied with the quality of new products and found the cost of transforming the processes too high.
There were several problems defined that prevent organizations from switching to safer options. They include the issues with new products that appeared to have lower quality, the unwillingness to invest in the change, and the overall lack of belief that their practices carried harm to health and environment. Besides, companies did not experience pressure for change from controlling agencies. Researchers suggest raising awareness among the industry specialist about the working ways of substituting hazardous compounds, determining the “green” concept, and reward those organizations that change their processes to become more sustainable.
Harding, A. K, & Jones, C. L. (1997). Pollution prevention practices in Oregon’s electronics industry. Journal of Environmental Health, 59(6), 21.
Optimal Deployment of Emissions Reduction Technologies for Construction Equipment
Nonroad construction equipment is accounted for significant emission levels that pollute the air in Texas. The article describes a computer-calculated optimization model that utilizes several objectives and helps in deciding on which technology to use for emission reduction (Bari, Zietsman, Quadrifoglio, & Farzaneh, 2011). Three technologies were chosen for the study, including hydrogen enrichment, selective catalytic reduction, and fuel additive.
Oxides of nitrogen (NOx) were selected as the type of emission. The goal was to find a correspondence between NOx emission reduction, fuel savings, and budget expenditure in NA and NNA counties. The research provides that model is rather general, but this fact allows for it to be utilized for different technologies and types of emissions.
There exist several emission reduction options that differ based on treatment categories. This research focuses on hydrogen enrichment (HE), selective catalytic reduction (SCR), and fuel additive (FA) technologies. There are three main groups, including exhaust gas aftertreatment, engine, and fuel technologies. Selective catalytic reduction belongs to the first group. It can reduce NOx, hydrocarbon (HC), and particular matter (PM) emissions. FA and HE both belong to the group of fuel technologies. The former can reduce engine emissions or improve fuel economy and is performed by injecting the additive into the fuel system of equipment. Hydrogen enrichment systems are used to make a better engine flame, which helps in reducing emissions of NOx and CO. This technology helps in decreasing fuel consumption levels as well.
All three of these technologies have both advantages and disadvantages associated with the target objectives. FA does not provide high levels of emission reduction or the fuel economy. Moreover, it is not very selective, as this technology cannot be applied to a single equipment unit and must be used for the whole park. However, this is the cheapest option among the three of them. HE is more expensive and provides moderate emission reduction. It is also the best choice based on the fuel economy ranking. Finally, SCR is the most expensive technology. It is also associated with a fuel penalty, but the level of emission reduction is high.
The provided computer model does a satisfactory job of determining the best technology. Firstly, it utilizes many objectives that help to analyze each case from different dimensions. Operating with such a big amount of interrelated data is best done by a computer program. Secondly, the model is flexible and can be applied to determining the best option among other technologies. However, it relies heavily on external data such as the cost of fuel, technology effectiveness, and information provided by manufacturers. Inaccuracies in this field may lead to false results and misleading recommendations for industry.
I cannot recommend a single strategy for emission reduction among the discussed options. The decision must be made based on the budget, the number of nonroad equipment, the goals, and other factors. HE seems like the best option based on the balance of cost-effectiveness and emission reduction. I believe that fuel economy is one of the primary characteristics that must be taken into the consideration, so HE should be used if there is no other technology that allows achieving better emission reduction results while being cost- and resource-effective.
Bari, M. E., Zietsman, J., Quadrifoglio, L., & Farzaneh, M. (2011). Optimal deployment of emissions reduction technologies for construction equipment. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 61(6), 611-630.
Flue Gas Desulfurization
Flue gas desulfurization is a process that takes place in every large production site that runs on coal combustion. The article by Srivastava (2001) discusses different techniques of fuel gas desulfurization, as well as their costs using models. The author mentions that lime spray drying, magnesium-enhanced lime, and limestone forced oxidation processes are the most utilized processes. Wet scrubbers seem to have the highest performance while absorbing as much as 95 percent of SO2. Dry technologies are good for small-sized production plants that use low- to medium-sulfur coals, and wet options should be chosen for the rest.
Coal is a sulfur-containing fuel that releases SO2 in the atmosphere during combustion. This chemical compound is very hazardous to human health and environment especially since it forms an H2SO4 acid when combined with water. SO2 emission levels are controlled by federal anti-pollution acts which pressure industries to use technologies that reduce the amount of this pollutant. Coal-fired plants perform flue gas desulfurization (FGD) steps for achieving this purpose.
FDG is a process that captures SO2 that is created during coal combustion in either dry or wet state, not allowing it to escape into the air. Depending on the type of technology, the outcome material is later treated as waste or used to extract SO2 to create solid or liquid substances like sulfuric acid. Lime and limestone play an important role in the FDG process, and several technologies that utilize these compounds are studied in this article.
FGD processes are classified as once-through or regenerable, with the latter being marginal in the United States and other countries that can carry its cost. The limestone-forced oxidation technology (LSFO) is one of the most widespread wet once-through FGDs. Its main principle is in blowing air to the additional hold tank or directly into the reaction reservoir, which causes forced oxidation of CaSO3 to CaSO4. This step allows to prevent gypsum scaling and the formed material is removed. As a result, the gypsum concentration in the limestone slurry decreases, which allows absorption to be more effective.
The magnesium oxide process is an example of a wet regenerable FGD. SO2 reacts with MgO and forms magnesium sulfite. Additional air that is blown into the absorption tower transforms it to magnesium sulfate. A kiln is used to regenerate MgO from the absorbed product, while SO2 is captured for transforming it later to sulfuric acid.
The cost model for the magnesium-enhanced slurry (MEL) was derived based on the specifics of its sorbent and absorber characteristics. MEL appeared to have the same sorbent preparation manner with LSD, and the absorber similar to LSFO. As a result, MEL was treated as a combination of LSD and LSFO. The simplified models for those two processes were combined to calculate costs. Additionally, cost-effective design options were used to adjust the model to make it more applicable to MEL.
The article can be useful to a pollution prevention manager since it discussed various aspects of technology and costs behind different FGD processes. A P2 manager may choose between different options of SO2 emission capturing depending on the resources of an organization. The article explains what resource outcomes are generated by each FGD process. Moreover, there is a cost analysis that suggests which option should be chosen based on the size of the production and the level of sulfur in coal used for it.
The concept of Best Available Technology (BAT) is defined as the most advanced practices for eliminating or reducing industrial emissions (OECD, 2018, p. 14). According to the EPA’s guidance, the BAT techniques for coal-fired plants are wet scrubbers and spray dry scrubbers (Environmental Protection Agency, 2008, p. 15). Also, if less than 250 MW is applied, dry sorbent injection is also an option. Subsequently, all the FGD techniques discussed in the article may be considered BATs.
Environmental Protection Agency. (2008). BAT guidance note on best available techniques for the energy sector (large combustion plant sector). Web.
Srivastava, R. K., & Jozewicz, W. (2001). Flue gas desulfurization: The state of the art. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 51(12),1676-1688.
The chemical industry has been developing with a gigantic speed for the past several decades as a response to the rapidly growing population of the world and the technological progress. Professionals developed materials that would assist in performing production tasks in the most effective way. However, it has become evident that many chemical substances are extremely hazardous to human health and the environment, and the costs of managing outcomes of their use are greater than the economic benefits, especially in the long run. Specialists are currently seeking ways of substituting such compounds with safer options.
Liquid carbon dioxide is an example of a chemical that can keep the same rate of technological effectiveness while being an environmentally friendly option due to its non-toxic character and the potential to cut costs and reduce energy inputs. The paper describes technological processes in dry cleaning and hydraulic fracturing industries, as well as discusses environmental issues associated with them and the possible solutions for each of the cases. The application of liquid CO2 is offered in the third part of the work, followed by a summary of P2 options available to these industries.
Perchloroethylene, or PCE, is a chemical compound used as a cleaning agent for clothes. It has been utilized since 1950’s and is currently the dominant option among dry cleaning organizations, the number of which is reaching as high as 85 percent across the United States (Sinshelmer, Grout, Namkoong, Gottlieb, & Latif, 2007). Despite its popularity among industry professionals, PCE is currently the focus of a question asking whether it can be used further regarding its impact on human health and the environment.
A common dry cleaning process is based on using a PCE solvent instead of water. In fact, it resembles typical laundry regarding its mechanics. While in standard washing machines clothes are treated with water and liquid or powder detergent sold in commercial stores, dry cleaning facilities utilize appliances that rotate garments in a PCE solvent. Dry cleaning sites have different technological appliance models, which range in the level of worker exposure to perchloroethylene. Although the industry is regulated by P2 acts, there are aspects that require the re-discussion of the PCE use.
There are major health and environmental issues associated with the use of PCE that were first identified in the 1970’s as the technology became widespread. This chemical compound is currently considered a probable cause of human cancer. Other adverse health effects include liver and kidney issues, respiratory diseases, and damage to the nervous system. Moreover, perchloroethylene contaminates air, water, and soil, and must be disposed as hazardous waste. In the 1990’s the Environmental Protection Agency developed the rules that would regulate the use of PCE and reduce hazardous emissions during the process.
However, this step has not succeeded in forcing dry cleaning facilities to comply with the regulations. Nowadays, many garment care sites are believed to be contaminated with PCE, which pressures the industry to search for an effective substitute to this chemical compound.
The article focuses on the professional wet cleaning technology as a substitute option and mentions additionally three other solvents that may be utilized. They include reformulated petroleum and silicone-based solvents, as well as liquid carbon dioxide. However, the former two materials cannot be considered sustainable, and their usage for dry cleaning carries additional environmental issues. For example, petroleum can be a source of volatile organic contaminants that pollute the atmosphere, and decamethylpentacyclosiloxane, which is a silicone-based solvent, may potentially cause carcinogenic diseases. These facts leave industry professionals with wet cleaning and liquid carbon dioxide as acceptable options for substituting PCE.
It has been determined that wet cleaning can be a working option for switching from PCE since it improves health and environmental outcomes while showing the same level of efficiency. This technology is more energy-efficient than dry cleaning, with electricity consumption decreasing by as much as 44 percent in some cases. Researchers also mention that it is non-toxic (Sinshelmer et al., 2007, p. 177) but this characteristic relies on the type of utilized detergents.
Moreover, the process results in zero emissions of hazardous pollutants into the atmosphere. The technology is also cost-effective due to the longer service expectancy of the wet cleaning equipment, fewer expenses on maintenance, reduced resource use, and elimination of financing for hazardous waste treatment. Finally, facility workers claim to experience better health condition as compared to the state they used to be in during the PCE-based process operation. All these benefits allow concluding that wet cleaning should become a transition goal for industry specialists that aim to improve their P2 practices.
Hydraulic fracturing is a technology used for extracting shale gas from beneath the ground. Its main principle is using water-based fluids to drill horizontal wells and thus create rock fractures to allow natural gas to rise to the surface (Chen, Al-Wadei, Kennedy, & Terry, 2014, p. 1). In the 1990’s, the production of shale gas increased dramatically after the technology of directional drilling had been introduced (Heywood, 2012, p. 43).
This source of energy is considered cleaner regarding its burning output emissions compared to oil or coal combustion. However, there are still many environmental issues associated with its production, including water contamination as the result of hydraulic fracturing. Improved wastewater management, compound substitution, and increased regulation of this industry sector are among the pollution prevention solutions offered by specialists.
Water contamination is the primary damage caused by hydraulic fracturing. The mechanics of the shale gas production are based on large amounts of liquid used for the process. The scope of the issue may be defined within three dimensions, including water shortage, contamination, and waste management. Usually, production sites use resources from local wells since it reduces costs on input transportation. Dry regions such as southern states may experience seasonal water shortage due to this practice. Produced water contains many chemical compounds that are added to make the process of hydraulic fracturing more effective.
The resulting hazardous fluid can contaminate surrounding lands and ground waters, threatening human health and the ecosystem. Finally, even if wastewaters are injected to underground Class II Wells, as regulations require, there is no hundred percent chance that they will not escape to the surrounding. Many of such wells are constructed on the territories that are not suitable for the task and thus cannot function properly. Other sites are being abandoned, releasing waste into the surrounding ground.
The exceptions made for regulating the hydraulic fracturing industry are among the issues that add to adverse environmental effects of the process. Many potentially hazardous practices fall under the rules listed in the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet hydraulic fracturing has been excluded from the list. Moreover, additive producers exploit the right to not disclose compounds of their substances as a part of a commercial secret. This factor prevents environmental protection specialists from correctly assessing risks presented by each fluid type used on different production sites. In some cases, companies performing hydraulic fracturing do not know which chemicals are present in liquids they use.
One of the P2 solutions offered to the industry is changing the chemical structure of liquids utilized for hydraulic fracturing. Its principle is based on either utilizing relatively safe components or reducing the amount of water required for the process by adding materials that change the physical qualities of a substance. For example, some facilities exercise the use of “green” chemicals, which are the ingredients used in food production.
However, such a less hazardous liquid may be effective only under a series of conditions, thus it cannot be recommended for wide implementation. Another option is to develop applications that will have little or no reliance on water. For instance, liquid CO2 and nitrogen gas with foam may be such components. Carbon dioxide evaporates shortly after an injection, leaving empty fractures. A foam-based substance is effective regarding its viscosity and fills fractures with the proppant. CO2 and nitrogen-based foam greatly reduce the amount of water required for hydraulic fracturing.
Another pollution prevention option that can be applied to shale gas production is to reuse wastewaters. This step helps to reduce the amount of fresh water usage and to cut waste management costs. However, there are many limitations to this option. Firstly, not all fluids can be reused as it depends on what substances are dissolved. Some particles that are brought up with produced waters are rather difficult to remove.
Secondly, the overall feasibility of wastewater treatment must be calculated prior to choosing this option. Energy inputs, solid waste sent for landfill, transportation costs, and other factors must be taken into consideration. Finally, produced waters are sometimes used for technical purposes such as road washing or deicing. However, the regulation issue of low transparency regarding chemicals in a fluid prevents this choice from being a safe option.
Liquid Carbon Dioxide in Technological Processes
Liquid carbon dioxide possesses qualities that allow viewing this chemical compound as a potential option for production processes that currently utilize water (Taylor, Carbonell, & DeSimone, 2010). CO2 has a number of benefits for the environment, including its non-toxic character and low energy input. Moreover, it is rather inexpensive due to its high concentration in nature and large amounts of this compound generated by production sites as a by-product.
CO2 is frequently present in the form of a gas or a liquid, both of which are perfect for dissolving various chemicals. CO2-based solvents can change their density with increasing temperature or pressure without transforming the initial composition. Finally, carbon dioxide has low viscosity, an accessible critical point, and implications for polymer production.
Liquid CO2 is a perfect as a solvent for polymerization processes. Its primary benefit lies within the environmental protection sphere, as it allows to produce less hazardous outputs during polymer production than water-based solvents. The amount of contaminated resources is greatly reduced, which also cuts costs associated with waste management. Moreover, the low critical point allows CO2 to be easily extracted from the system without using excessive energy resource inputs. However, there are two challenges that prevent the wide utilization of liquid carbon dioxide for industrial processes. They include the poor solvency of CO2 and questions regarding its application as a reaction medium. The synthesis of fluoropolymers in CO2 and surfactants for it became the solutions to the issue.
Fluoropolymers are used for various technological steps due to their valued properties like high chemical and thermal stability. However, the synthesis of this material is challenging due to its low solubility, transferring of radicals to solvents with hydrogen, and hydrophobic qualities. Producing fluoropolymers in CO2 results in high conversion of the material and environmental benefits. The solubility of polymers in carbon dioxide depends on whether they are CO2-phillic or CO2-phobic. The former group includes fluoropolymers and siloxanes, which are attached to a CO2-phobic segment to create a working CO2 surfactant. The examples include graft and block copolymer surfactants, and perfluoropolyether chelating agents.
The application opportunities for liquid carbon dioxide can be found in the textile, mining, electronics, and other industries. For example, it can be used for coating technologies used in buildings and bridges construction, microlithography processes, and magnetic drives production. The level of control over polymer concentration, architecture, and other properties is higher in liquid CO2 than in other fluid solvents, which allows creating products with greater precision.
The ability of carbon dioxide to be easily diffused and respond to pressure changes make it a valuable solvent for metal extraction from polymer-based complexes. Heterogeneous dispersion polymerizations can be performed if supercritical CO2 is combined with free radical initiators and stabilizers like, for example, nonionic-homopolymers. Stabilizing components prevent aggregation of primary particles that are formed as a result of polymer phase separation. This technology appears to be a sustainable option for processes that require microemulsions for chemical transformations.
The properties of liquid carbon dioxide described above make it a great eco-friendly substitution of water-based fluids in such processes as dry cleaning and hydraulic fracturing. Fully automated dry cleaning machines that run on liquid CO2 have the filtration system of 5-10 micron density. The technology allows more than 98 percent of the utilized CO2 to be recycled, along with nonhazardous detergents.
The process flow is similar to the technology based on perchloroethylene liquids, with garments being loaded to a rotation basket for full-cycle cleaning. The CO2-based system is claimed to carry less financial and energy inputs, improve performance, and facilitate regulation compliance. Regarding the use of liquid dioxide in hydraulic fracturing industry, the compound is useful due to its ability to expand with temperature and pressure changes. Moreover, there is a technology of extracting CO2 from gaseous mixtures. For instance, pure methane can be released after its mixture with carbon dioxide is processed through a high-pressure system with fluoropolymer beads. The latter will be plasticized by CO2 in its fluorinated parts.
Nowadays, the environmental situation around technological processes in dry cleaning and hydraulic fracturing industries calls for changes in pollution prevention practices. Chemical substances that are widely used in these sectors contaminate air, water, and land, as well as cause health issues among workers and other people. The major threat comes from wastewaters in both dry cleaning and hydraulic fracturing processes.
Besides, it appears as if industry specialists do not give much attention to complying with corresponding regulations. Moreover, existing rules are not demanding enough to ensure the sustainable ways of production. One of the most important P2 steps, especially for hydraulic fracturing, would be to review current regulations regarding resource use and waste management.
Since water is a resource that is most contaminated during dry cleaning and hydraulic fracturing processes, one of the most reasonable steps would be to cut its use. Liquid CO2 is a compound that seems to be a reasonable alternative to water. It is non-toxic and cost-effective due to its wide presence in nature. The conditions for its transformation are easy to create, which makes liquid carbon dioxide also an energy-effective material. Finally, it evaporates after use, which reduces production waste amounts. All these qualities give liquid CO2 a great potential in substituting hazardous fluids in dry cleaning and hydraulic fracturing operations.
Chen, J., Al-Wadei, M. H., Kennedy, C. M., & Terry, P. D. (2014). Hydraulic fracturing: Paving the way for a sustainable future? Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 1-10.
Heywood, P. (2012). Fracking safer and greener? TCE: The Chemical Engineer, 850, 42-45.
Sinshelmer, P., Grout, C., Namkoong, A., Gottlieb, R., & Latif, A. (2007). The viability of professional wet cleaning as a pollution prevention alternative to perchloroethylene dry cleaning. Air and Waste Management Association, 57, 172-178.
Taylor, D. K., Carbonell, R., & Desimone, J. M. (2010). Opportunities for pollution prevention and energy efficiency enabled by the carbon dioxide technology platform. Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, 25(1), 115-148.
The Greening of a Pulp and Paper Mill
The Androscoggin Mill, a part of the International Paper (IP) company, started its work in 1965 in Jay, Maine (Hill, Saviello, & Groves, 2002). For over three decades it was a typical pulp and paper plant that was central to the town’s economy. Everything changed in 1987, when a strike happened and lasted until the following year. The mill was accounted for numerous violations of environmental safety requirements.
It seemed that the facility was at the risk of being closed for all the issues surrounding it. However, in the 1990’s the newly formed management team implemented a series of P2 methods that allowed the plant to become the IP’s most successful organization regarding sustainable practices. By the end of 2001, the Androscoggin Mill became a large and effective plant with 1200 workers employed and 1600 tons of paper produced per day.
The kraft pulping is a process that is based on extracting fiber from wood and transforming it into material that is later used for paper production. Wood is made of two main components, including carbohydrate and lignin, the latter of which provides strength. Inorganic chemicals are used for cooking wood chips to separate fiber from lignin. Sulfite-based liquors used to be one of the options for the process. However, chemicals were not recovered after chips cooking, and hazardous waste was spilled in rivers. Kraft pulping allowed to recover up to 98 percent of chemicals, which made it the dominant technology.
However, the material resulting from this process is rather dark, and additional bleaching is required in many cases. The pulp is later washed, treated with oxygen delignification, and bleached with chlorine-based agents. After the second wash, the pulp is mixed with additives and run through paper-making machines. Environmental issues caused by kraft pulping are associated with wastewaters, chemicals, and other compounds. The largest portion of contaminants includes BOD, pigments, solids, and absorbable organic halides (AOXs) resulting from elemental chlorine use.
Pollution problems of the Androscoggin Mill before 1990 were typical for this industry and included large quantities of wastewaters, air pollutant emissions, and solid waste landfill. For instance, the facility had an on-site landfill that accepted 1643 cubic yards of solid waste per day in 1988. In fact, the zone almost reached its capacity during that time. Another issue was associated with elemental choline that was used for pulp bleaching. Utilization of this chemical resulted in hazardous substance emissions into the atmosphere, and even transporting it was dangerous due to potential leakage.
The management team that took over the situation in the early 1990’s developed several P2 strategies that allowed to reduce the number of hazardous substances linked to kraft pulping. One of the solutions included the construction of several aerators in the lagoon where wastewater treatment took place. The step allowed to achieve a higher level of dissolved oxygen and degradation of BOD. Another solution was to reduce bleaching by minimizing lignin in the pulp, which resulted in the decreasing amount of chloroform emissions.
Elemental chlorine was substituted with chlorine dioxide for bleaching processes and products with nitrogen and phosphorous ingredients used for microorganism growth were replaced with urea. Finally, the waste treatment was changed, and several steps, mainly recycling and its modifications, allowed to reduce the landfill rate by 91 percent. Solutions such as burning bark and sludge to make ash for AshCrete, which would later be used instead of gravel, allowed to cut costs on facility’s reconstruction.
The listed pollution prevention steps were supported by a set of organizational strategies developed by the management team. The primary goal was to create high standards for mill’s operations and to gain trust and support from the local community and regulation officials. Managers followed the recommendations given by the President’s Commission on Environmental Quality (PCEQ).
Firstly, the new team changed the structure of the mill’s environmental control department by hiring specialists on each emission issue, which made it similar to the one of the Maine DEP. Secondly, they have formed a public advisory committee (PAC) that helped to gather opinion from outside the organization. Employees gained more control over their part of operation units, which allowed to receive feedback and target issues more precisely. Finally, the management team took company lawyers away from their relations with the Maine DEP, releasing tensions and achieving a higher level of support and cooperation from regulators.
Hill, M., Saviello, T., & Groves, S. (2002). The greening of a pulp and paper mill. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 6(1), 107-120.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Opportunities for Concrete
Pavement construction and operation is associated with many environmental issues due to the materials it required and the specifics of its utilization. Concrete is one of the main components used for constructing pavements. This material, along with iron and steel, aluminum, and paper and cardboard, contributes the most to carbon dioxide emissions (Ashby, 2013, p. 151). Lately, construction specialists have started to use substances like fly ash as a safer option instead of concrete. This measure, as well as several others, is discussed in the article as the possible solution for reducing GHG emissions associated with pavements.
GHG production results from several fields of pavement construction and operation. Materials manufacturing is the first stage of its life cycle, where a large amount of CO2 is released. Besides, pavements are used for transportation purposes, and carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles are also considered as a part of the whole system of environmental impact. For instance, CO2 emissions from transport are estimated at 27 percent of the total amount in the United States (Santero Loijos, & Ochsendorf, 2013, p.859). New technologies in pavement construction targeted at changing the friction level may reduce this number.
There are several strategies for reducing GHG emissions associated with concrete pavements. Embodied emissions occur during manufacturing of materials and construction works. The reduction of these may be achieved by inputting fewer natural resources or choosing materials that are not as emission-intensive. Increasing the amount of albedo helps to improve the levels of urban heat island effect, radiation, and lightning requirements. Carbonation, which is a naturally occurring process, may be a source of CO2 release from crushed concrete at its end-of-life point. Thus, carbon sequestration can be achieved by effective waste management. Finally, the friction level of pavement affects vehicle fuel consumption, which, in turn, influences the carbon dioxide emission level.
There are five GHG reduction strategies that may potentially be viable. The first solution is to increase the use of fly ash instead of concrete for pavement construction from 10% to 30%. Another step is to add more white aggregates to increase albedo. The end-of-life scenario would be based on stockpiling crushed concrete for one year, allowing 28 percent of CO2 to be sequestered. The tenth year of pavement use should be marked with an addition of extra rehabilitation to create a smoother path, which would reduce vehicle fuel consumption. Finally, the fifth strategy is to abandon the practice of overdesigning and to optimize the material use.
The life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) performed for the embodied strategies has shown that each of the options is negatively cost-effective. Steps taken to reduce GHG emissions required significant financial input. Avoiding overdesign and adding fly ash reduces concrete sickness and results in mitigating costs. Other three strategies, including the increase of EOL carbonation and albedo, and reducing vehicle fuel consumption, show positive cost-effectiveness. While end-of-life carbonation applies to all types of pavement, the other two strategies are effective depending on the roadway volume. Considering this data, rural roads and highways require a different approach to make GHG reduction steps cost-effective.
Santero, N., Loijos, A., & Ochsendorf, J. (2013). Greenhouse gas emissions reduction opportunities for concrete pavements. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 17(6), 859-868.
Designing a Low-Cost Pollution Prevention Plan to Pay Off at the University of Houston
Universities belong to the group of large organization that generates a great amount of chemical waste (Bialowas, Sullivan, & Schneller, 2006, p. 1320). The University of Houston has adopted a pollution prevention plan to manage its hazardous waste. There were two reasons for taking this step, including finances and regulation compliance. Chemical waste generated by the University must be treated according to the EPA’s policies. The site’s administration wanted to spend the budget on projects rather than on waste management. Moreover, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has issued the rules that make large organizations like the University to develop and present a five-year P2 Plan.
One of the new P2 strategies was based on bulking hazardous wastes in a new manner. Previously, used materials were disposed to many small containers filled with absorbents. The team offered to utilize large single drums for this purpose and to bulk similar waste. Hazardous liquids and solids had to be stored in separate drums. The plan would reduce the amount of overpacking by 93 percent, making it a $569 per year cost. Bulking waste could produce unforeseen chemical reactions, so the fume hood modification was developed. A hood was remodeled to fit the bulking system underneath. The cost of the modification was approximately $2307, but the savings form a new bulking method made the whole plan economically reasonable.
Silver is a heavy metal that has many applications in different industries, including photography (Ashby, 2013, p. 486). Its hazardous nature and economic potential create the need for recovery from waste. The University decided to combine electrolytic and chemical recovery systems. A large portion of silver could be recovered, and the remaining liquid disposed in sewage. It was decided to lease the equipment and use vendor maintenance for it. The waste disposal cost reduction was expected to be 87 percent, going from $5018 to $676 per year.
The University also enhanced the existing system of disposing used oil. The facility had an auto shop that maintained the University’s fleet and collected the oil waste with a system of pumps, pipes, and a storage tank, which was later collected for free by a local reclamation firm. The plan was to bring the oil generated inside the University to that collection tank. The project allowed to save $3411 per year, and to make the oil disposal totally free.
I believe that the P2 plan developed by the University is very cost-effective. It offered simple solutions that did not require substantial technical modification. In my opinion, it was a reasonable step to leave some of the waste management steps for outsourcing. However, I am not sure whether bulking liquid wastes is a very good idea regarding safety. It was mentioned in the paper that the process may result in unexpected chemical reactions. I wonder if any of those reactions could go out of control causing extensive damage to the disposal system and the storage room. Other ideas, like recovering silver and using economic benefits from it, seem both environmentally safe and cost-effective, which allows other educational institutions to adopt this model.
Bialowas, Y. D., Sullivan, E. C., & Schneller, R. D. (2006). Designing a low-cost pollution prevention plan to pay off at the University of Houston. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 56(9), 1320-1324.
Effectiveness of State Pollution Prevention Programs and Policies
The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 has declared a goal of reducing or preventing pollution at source whenever it is possible (Harrington, 2013, p. 255). Followed by the adoption of the Act, the Environmental Protection Agency started to collect and publish information about hazardous chemical emissions, as well as the ways they could be reduced. However, many corporations do not strive to develop optimal environmental technologies for their production processes.
There are three main reasons for such choices, including externalities, incomplete information, and high costs of adopting environmental technologies. In the past, legislation had a command-and-control character, ordering industries how they should manage waste (Ashby, 2013, p. 101). The article focuses on determining whether a new approach works towards stimulating organizations to reduce emissions at source (Harrington, 2013). The three objectives of the study are investigating if state-level P2 regulations stimulate pollution prevention activities adoption and emission reduction, determining how three policy instruments help to achieve it and examining whether facility characteristics influence the policy effectiveness.
One of the hypotheses of the research is the publicly disclosed information regarding environmental impact may increase the adoption of P2 actions and reduce toxic releases. The U. S. Toxic Releases Inventory has a two-sided effect on enhancing pollution prevention among organizations. Firstly, reporting helps companies to improve their public image and gain trust from regulating agencies, stakeholders, and consumers as they decrease emission levels. Secondly, shared information becomes a basis for future developments in environmental regulation. For example, data disclosed to TRI may be used by community members to act towards voting for more effective policies and controlling agencies may form a priority list for inspection purposes.
The empirical framework for the study is based on the main objective, which is to determine the link between pollution prevention legislation and two researched effects, being the adoption of P2 activities and toxic emission reduction. The technology adoption is calculated as the number of P2 activities that was implemented over a studied time. A level of pollution is determined as the level of toxic emissions released over time. Variables of interest include a P2 legislation dummy, and three policy dummies, including numerical goal, reporting requirements, and pollution prevention planning.
For-profit companies are eager to develop and follow P2 programs if marginal benefits equal the cost of their adoption. One of the instruments of promoting environmental technology adoption is information-sharing. Organizations that lack knowledge on how to run a P2 program on their facility are challenged with the need of discovering new ways of technology modification and adjusting new knowledge to the situation. The process has negative cost-effectiveness and may take much time. When there is no technical assistance, companies may wish to keep using existing P2 programs to avoid high expenses.
The findings suggest that P2 policies stimulate organizations to participate in adopting pollution prevention programs. However, there is no significant long-term effect regarding the improvement of environmental performance. Those organizations that failed to comply with toxic emissions regulations showed the biggest progress, while attempts by the others resulted in moderate changes. In my opinion, companies lack the understanding of how P2 actions may benefit them financially. Besides, since reducing toxic releases does not happen as a result of reporting, other tactics must be reviewed to force companies to adopt sustainable production options.
Harrington, D. R. (2013). Effectiveness of state pollution prevention programs and policies. Contemporary Economic Policy, 31(2), 255-278.
Corporate Philosophy and P2 Efforts
There is a belief that in the nearest decades the Earth’s population will grow further by several billions. Such a great number of people is a cause of enormous generations of waste and resource use worldwide. The current state of the environment has made people and governments review their day-to-day practices. Large organizations from all industry sectors are currently seeking ways of making their operations more sustainable. In other words, the corporate perspective has shifted from ignoring the issue to becoming proactive in finding the balance between production and environmental safety (Ashby, 2013 p. 101).
However, adopting sustainable practices must go along with a corporate philosophy. Companies that have their vision mingled with P2 efforts are successful showing both commercial and environmental results, as it creates the possibility to be cost-effective, sustainable, and to gain support from communities and regulating agencies, which improves public image and works towards brand success. The paper focuses on describing why corporate philosophy must go along with pollution prevention strategies and providing an example of Canon as a company that follows this pattern.
Corporate Philosophy and Environmental Initiatives
In the past, a “green” public image was not very common and not many businesses used it to promote their products. Nowadays, various policies pressure companies to comply with rules that determine emission amounts, waste management options, etc. Top managers strive to implement environmental agenda in a corporate philosophy not only to follow the existing legislation and avid fines, but also to become more competitive and cost-effective (Ervin, Wu, Khanna, Jones, & Wirkkala, 2013, p. 391).
The external pressure from the market to ensure sustainable operations does not leave many options for production owners than to follow the general trend. The extent of the adopted changes varies based on many factors, including business size, economic situation, production model, etc. Research findings suggest that environmental activities are influenced by the willingness to gain competitive advantage (Ervin et al., 2013, p. 402). The same research provides that industries respond differently to this pressure, as wood and transportation sectors show more EMP levels (Ervin et al., 2013, p. 402). This fact may be caused by the general perception of these businesses’ emissions as potentially more hazardous than the others.
However, it is not enough to just adopt the P2 practices and expect that it will increase the competitiveness if the management team does not believe in the idea. There are several factors that are important for drafting an effective sustainability strategy, one of which is the accurate P2 audit.
According to Ashby, it is a method of determining problem areas of a production site (2013, p. 176). Every worker is encouraged to seek and report issues at his or her section of unit operation, so that specialists conducting an audit are aware of every little detail that requires attention. When company’s management does not perceive sustainability as an important part of operations, such initiative may become unwanted. Such situation may leave workers with a feeling that they are not being valued.
Another issue of a situation where corporate philosophy does not include the mentioning of sustainability as one of the goals is attracting the wrong type of employees. At the point of job seeking, candidate become acquainted with company’s values and decide on whether he or she shares them. When a company introduces new initiatives targeted at environmental safety, the step may find little support among employees that did not find this important initially. Research suggests that business ethics are important in attracting and retaining the right type of workers (Kumari, 2014, p. 742). Promoted company activities like carpooling or energy savings may direct employees’ mindset towards seeking ways of making their sector of responsibility more sustainable.
Canon’s Vision and Sustainability Efforts
Canon is one of the most famous technology companies, mostly known for its cameras. The corporate webpage contains information about the vision, listing its main principles (“Corporate philosophy and spirit”, n. d.). The corporate philosophy of Canon is described by the concept of kyosei, which envisions all people of the world living and working together in harmony. All corporate activities are based on this idea, with building good relationships with environment as one of it.
One of the Canon’s tactics is to manage chemicals that are used for different manufacturing processes. The substances are separated in three categories, including prohibited, emission reduction, and regulated ones (“Eliminating hazardous substances and preventing pollution”, n. d.). One of the strategies is to reduce the use of chemicals and to utilize recycled substances. For instance, in an attempt to reduce toxic emissions, Canon Dalian Business Machines decided to re-use or recycle solvents (“Eliminating hazardous substances and preventing pollution”, n. d.). The step helped to reduce volatile organic compound usage by 30 percent. Other substances include coating oil and grease, the reduction of which reached 4.4 and 2.2 percent correspondingly.
Canon also manages pollution that is associated with water contamination. Some of the controlled chemicals include nitrogen and phosphate compounds that may lead to water eutrophication. Another problem is biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and suspended solids (SS). The company uses local regulation standards and aims not to exceed the allowed amount of contamination. Air pollution is another issue as Canon’s production sites are the source of nitrogen and sulfur oxides.
Currently, the company is utilizing equipment that runs on fuel which does not act as a source of NOx and SOx emissions. Finally, the company has established its own policy on soil and groundwater pollution. Its rules regulate actions that need to be taken in a case if contamination of such character happens. Another measure is to examine soil on site prior to the land purchase for constructing a new production facility. Chemical substance monitoring at each plant is performed regularly to ensure that there is a compliance with local safety regulations.
All the described initiatives show how the management of Canon understands the company’s liability and dedication to supporting better environment. Philosophy described in the brand’s vision statement directs the way that Canon administration must take in the future regarding its environmental dimension. All the efforts that are taken by the company to blend the principles of sustainable operations into their corporate philosophy helps to ensure that all employees that join Canon will act towards creating solutions such as safer compound options for technology production.
The example of Canon shows how a company must act to not only meet the local requirements associated with environment protection, but also seek ways of developing their own programs for sustainable operations. Such efforts cannot exist separately from a company’s philosophy since it determines the principles for all activities and the future development. CSR statements help employees orient what attitude a business seeks from everyone who is a part of its functioning.
Of course, there is a significant chance of trying to increase the competitive advantage behind the actions of Canon’s management team. Stakeholders and consumers nowadays are less likely to support businesses that are known to release large amounts of hazardous waste and otherwise disregard threat resulting from their activities. However, if a company only seeks ways to improve its positions on the market, it usually does not go further than complying to environmental state regulations. Making a sustainable business is not limited to following the Pollution Prevention Act or its analogues in other countries.
Developing and adopting P2 activities takes much effort to determine issues, find solutions, and modifying existing processes. The fact that Canon has created its own program for managing soil and underground water contaminations is a signal that the brand truly follows its vision statement of striving towards harmony. This is an approach that corporations should adopt to reduce their negative impact on the environment as effectively as possible.
Corporate philosophy and spirit. (n. d.). Web.
Eliminating hazardous substances and preventing pollution. (n. d.). Web.
Ervin, D., Wu, J., Khanna, M., Jones, C., & Wirkkala, T. (2013). Motivations and barriers to corporate environmental management. Business Strategy and the Environment, 22(6): 390-409.
Kumari, N. (2014). Employees’ psychology towards corporate social responsibility activities: A live study. International Journal of Asian Social Science, 4(6), 733-742.