5 Ways to Reduce Hazardous Waste - WorldOfChemicals

5 Ways to Minimize Hazardous Chemical Waste

Waste Management

Chemicals are used in the production of various products and play an important role in the protection of human health. Chemicals also contribute significantly to the GDP and employment. On the other hand, good management practices must be in place to mitigate adverse effects of chemical waste. In urban areas, lower income households are exposed to hazardous chemical due to their polluted residential areas as well as working premises. Chemical exposure in rural areas results from wrong use of agricultural chemicals as well as pollution carried by waterways. These effect the natural resources on which the community is dependent.


Waste Minimization Steps


The risks associated with toxic and hazardous chemical waste can be mitigated through effective management. Steps to minimize the toxicity and volume of chemical wastes generated must be taken by the industries, institutions and communities.


1. Inventory Management


Chemical companies must keep their chemical inventory updated, which would help to know about the usage patterns and prevent re purchasing of existing chemicals. The amount of chemicals purchased should tally with the requirement in the short term. Bulk purchase of chemicals must be avoided as they pose risk of storage and disposal costs. Outdated or unwanted chemicals must be disposed of immediately as they become more lethal over time. Excess chemicals must be sold to other manufacturing companies and intermediate industries that would require them. All chemical containers should be labelled appropriately, which would make their disposal hassle free.


2. Scaling and Substitution


Experiments conducted must be small scale to reduce the amount of chemical waste generated. Unwanted dilutions in experiments must be avoided to minimize the amount of hazardous waste generated. Experiments can be conducted with less hazardous materials such as biodegradable detergents, chromium-based cleaners, latex paints and coatings and non-mercury thermometers. Toxicity and disposal costs can be reduced by preserving specimens in ethanol. Metal catalysts must be avoided, wherever possible. Premixed chemicals must be purchased with desired concentration to avoid unwanted chemical stores and irrelevant experimental steps. Substitution of methanol with ethanol in experiments can offer more options for waste management.


3. Recycling


Recycling hazardous chemical waste would lead to less water, air and soil pollution linked with these practices. Recycling of hazardous waste not only benefits the environment, but also can benefit a chemical company’s bottom line. Chemical waste recycling would reduce the costs linked with waste management and buying raw materials as well as increase production efficiency.


4. Segregation


Chemical waste should always be segregated into hazardous and non-hazardous waste. Experiments which generate mixed wastes containing hazardous and radioactive chemical waste must be avoided, owing to the complexity of the disposal process. At present, there is a dearth of mixed waste disposal outlets. Before the generation of mixed waste, environmental health and safety must be contacted. Toxic chemicals such as cyanides must be collected in separate containers away from non-toxic waste.


5. Mixing Waste Streams


The most effective economical waste stream to dispose of are flammable liquids. Mixing of flammable liquid wastes with metals, halogenated solvents and other hazardous chemical wastes must be avoided. Heavy metal and mercury wastes should not be mixed with any other waste streams.

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