Older, "low-tech" batch manufacturing operations are often fertile grounds for gains resulting from pollution prevention techniques. This paper presents a pollution prevention technique utilized for wastewater discharge permit compliance purposes at a batch manufacturer of detergents, deodorants, and floor-care products. This manufacturer generated industrial wastewater as a result of equipment rinses required after each product batch changeover. After investing a significant amount of capital on end of pip-line wastewater treatment technology designed to address existing discharge limits, this manufacturer chose to investigate alternate, low-cost approaches to address anticipated new permit limits. Mass balances using spreadsheets and readily available formulation and production data were conducted on over 300 products to determine how each individual product contributed to the total wastewater pollutant load. These mass balances indicated that 22 products accounted for over 55% of the wastewater pollutant. Laboratory tests were conducted to determine whether these same products could accept their individual changeover rinse water as make-up water in formulations without sacrificing product quality. This changeover reuse technique was then implement at the plant scale for selected products. Significant reductions in wastewater volume (25%) and wastewater pollutant loading (85+%) were realized as a direct result of this approach.
Nearly all life cycle assessment tools available today are high priced, comprehensive and quantitative models requiring a significant amount of data collection and data input. In addition, most of the available software packages require a great deal of training time to learn how to operate the model software. Even after this time investment, results are not guaranteed because of the number of estimations and assumptions often necessary to run the model. As a result, product development, design teams and environmental specialists need a simplified tool that will allow for the qualitative evaluation and "screening" of various design options.
This paper presents the development and design of a generic, qualitative life cycle screening model and demonstrates its applicability and ease of use. The model uses qualitative environmental, health and safety factors, based on site or product-specific issues, to sensitize the overall results for a given set of conditions. The paper also evaluates the impact of different population input ranking values on model output. The final analysis is based on site or product-specific variables. The user can then evaluate various design changes and the apparent impact or improvement on the environment, health and safety, compliance cost and overall corporate liability. Major input parameters can be varied, and factors such as materials use, pollution prevention, waste minimization, worker safety, product life, environmental impacts, return of investment, and recycle are evaluated.
The flexibility of the model format will be discussed in order to demonstrate the applicability and usefulness within nearly any industry sector. Finally, an example using audience input value scores will be compared to other population input results.