Wednesday, September 3, 2008
K. R. Singhal
In business waste means cost. Handling waste in a proactive manner means saving money. Disposal of waste in a useful way can have a positive impact on the environment and it can also save organization’s money. Organization implementing ISO 14001:2004 EMS and / or OHSAS 18001 recognizes high standards of health and safety that can contribute to the success of the organization by preserving and developing human and physical resources and by reducing necessary costs and liabilities.
When I was addressing participants in a training programme and discussing requirements of ISO 14001:2004 EMS Standard with regard to Emergency Preparedness and Response, one participant raised his point with regard to post accident fire fighting and asked, “How to dispose of burnt waste?” His question was specific to burnt waste, but I deal here with a broader question and a vital question – “How to handle waste?”
For handling waste, most organizations are unaware of waste management practices। The objective of this paper is to create awareness about waste management. Waste management practices may differ in organizations (due to size and type), for urban and rural areas, and for residential and industrial, producers. Management for non-hazardous residential and institutional waste in metropolitan areas is usually the responsibility of local government authorities, while management for non-hazardous commercial and industrial waste is usually the responsibility of the generator.
By having a waste management procedure, an organization can attach a great importance to the health and safety of its employees, members of public and others who use the premises of the organization or may be affected by the activities of the organization. Organization implementing ISO 14001:2004 EMS and / or OHSAS 18001 recognizes high standards of health and safety that can contribute to the success of the organization by preserving and developing human and physical resources and by reducing necessary costs and liabilities. It must be a policy of the organization to establish and maintain as far as its reasonably practicable, non-hazardous working conditions for all aspects of health and safety at work including the commitment to allocate appropriate resources.
The organization should have a “Waste Management Procedure” for the safe handling, disposal and recycling of waste.Waste management procedure includes collection, transport, processing, recycling or disposal of waste materials. The term usually relates to materials produced by human activity, and is generally undertaken to reduce their effect on health, the environment or aesthetics. Waste management is also carried out to recover resources from it. Waste management can involve solid, liquid, gaseous or radioactive substances, with different methods and fields of expertise for each.
All waste produced and / or developed within the organization by staff or visitors or contractors should be handled and disposed of completely in accordance with the set procedure. The procedure should be applicable to staff as well as contractors working for and on behalf of the organization.
While preparing a waste management procedure, we should keep in mind the following aspects in general:
- Handling and disposal of waste must not cause any harm to the environment,
- Handling and disposal of waste must not violet any legal requirements. The disposal should be accordance to the statutory and legal requirements। The procedure should address to the statutory and legal requirements।
- If recycling of waste is possible, we should incorporate procedure to handle such waste।
The waste management procedure should deal with the following aspects:
- Handling of waste,
- Disposal of waste, and
- Recycling of waste, where possible
Types of waste
While dealing with the procedure, greater emphasis should be given to the type of the waste. Waste can be of different types, such as,
General household waste
Building and engineering waste
Fluorescent tubes and high pressure mercury lamps
Batteries and toners
Furniture and equipments
Waste to drains
The above list is indicative. There may be other types of waste.
Waste Management Representative
One personnel in the organization should be given specific responsibility and authority with regard to waste management. In the waste management procedure, responsibilities of personnel dealing with waste should be defined. There should be nominated personnel, who should have responsibilities including the following:
To be aware of statutory and legal requirements (legislations and regulations) with regard to storage, handling, transportation and disposal of waste
To keep under review and propose improvements to waste handling and disposal procedure
To devise, maintain and implement, in consultation with staff, operational procedures and organizational arrangements
To monitor methods of handling and disposing of waste
To promote awareness among concerned people by using effective communication methods
To identify training programmes for waste management and taking actions to organize such programmes
To develop guidelines for waste management procedures
To review guidelines for waste management procedures
To report matter of importance to the top management
Waste Management Methods
Waste management methods vary widely between organizations for many reasons, including type of waste material, nearby land uses, and the area available.
Some of the waste disposal methods include:
Avoidance and reduction methods
Disposing of waste in a landfill involves burying waste to dispose of it, and this remains a common practice. A properly-designed and well-managed landfill can be a hygienic and relatively inexpensive method of disposing of waste materials. Older, poorly-designed or poorly-managed landfills can create a number of adverse environmental impacts. Another common byproduct of landfills is gas (mostly composed of methane and carbon dioxide). This gas can create odor problems, kill surface vegetation, and is a greenhouse gas. Many landfills also have landfill gas extraction systems installed to extract the landfill gas. Gas is pumped out of the landfill using perforated pipes and flared off or burnt in a gas engine to generate electricity.
Incineration is a disposal method that involves combustion of waste material. Incineration and other high temperature waste treatment systems are sometimes described as "thermal treatment". Incinerators convert waste materials into heat, gas, steam, and ash. Incineration is carried out both on a small scale by individuals and on a large scale by industry. It is used to dispose of solid, liquid and gaseous waste. It is recognized as a practical method of disposing of certain hazardous waste materials (such as biological medical waste). Incineration is a controversial method of waste disposal, due to issues such as emission of gaseous pollutants. Incineration is common in countries such as Japan where land is scarce.
The process of extracting resources or value from waste is generally referred to as recycling, meaning to recover or reuse the material. There are a number of different methods by which waste material can be recycled: the raw materials may be extracted and reprocessed, or the calorific content of the waste may be converted to electricity. New methods of recycling are being developed continuously.
The popular meaning of ‘recycling’ refers to the widespread collection and reuse of everyday waste materials such as empty beverage containers. These are collected and sorted into common types so that the raw materials from which the items are made can be reprocessed into new products. Material for recycling may be collected separately from general waste using dedicated bins and collection vehicles, or sorted directly from mixed waste streams.
Waste materials that are organic in nature, such as plant material, food scraps, and paper products, can be recycled using biological composting and digestion processes to decompose the organic matter. The resulting organic material can be recycled as mulch or compost for agricultural or landscaping purposes. In addition, waste gas from the process (such as methane) can be captured and used for generating electricity. The intention of biological processing in waste management is to control and accelerate the natural process of decomposition of organic matter.
The energy content of waste products can be harnessed directly by using them as a direct combustion fuel, or indirectly by processing them into another type of fuel.
An important method of waste management is the prevention of waste material being created, also known as waste reduction. Methods of avoidance include reuse of second-hand products, repairing broken items instead of buying new, designing products to be refillable or reusable (such as cotton instead of plastic shopping bags), encouraging consumers to avoid using disposable products (such as disposable cutlery), and designing products that use less material to achieve the same purpose.
Training and Awareness
Education, training and awareness in the area of waste and waste management are increasingly important from a global perspective of resource management. The organization should take steps to create awareness in this area. All staff connected with segregation, collection, storage and disposal of waste must be trained to be aware of and capable of performing the following:
· Safe and careful handling of waste
· Understand and carry out waste management procedures
· Implementation of appropriate health and safety policies and incident reporting methods
· Record maintenance
Each organization should have a “Waste Management Procedure” for the safe handling, disposal and recycling of waste.Waste management procedure includes collection, transport, processing, recycling or disposal of waste materials. The organization should take all suitable steps for the effective waste management and its continual improvement. Today we can not afford to ignore the environmental aspects of business. In business, waste means cost. Saving energy means saving money. Handling waste in a proactive manner means saving money. Disposal of waste in a useful way can have a positive impact on the environment and it can also save organization money. Waste management and energy savings starts with the application of ISO 14001:2004 EMS. Implementing ISO 14001:2004 EMS can expand organization’s business and market opportunities, increase profits and ensure compliance with environment legislations. By implementing OHSAS 18001 the organization recognizes high standards of health and safety that can contribute to the success of the organization by preserving and developing human and physical resources and by reducing necessary costs and liabilities and handling waste bin an effective manner can contribute to a great extent in that way.
Courtesy: Various magazines, books, articles on the subject.