Waste Reduction and Recycling: What Manufacturing Facilities Should Know

Since manufacturing facilities are the top producers of waste, they also hold tremendous scope and potential for waste reduction and recycling.

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The field of industrial waste management has evolved tremendously over the past few years. Manufacturing facilities especially are one of the top contenders for waste generation. Hence, the way they handle their waste is important. Many organizations are adopting innovative ways of managing the waste. The good news is that, since manufacturing facilities are the top producers of waste, they also hold tremendous scope and potential for waste reduction and recycling.

Right from gathering data to creating a waste management policy to implementing waste reduction and recycling initiatives on the manufacturing floor, there are several steps involved. This article guides manufacturing facilities with best tips to reduce and recycle waste for optimized operations and increased productivity.

Waste Reduction Tips

It might be impossible to completely eliminate waste generation, but a manufacturing facility can surely substantially reduce the waste generated by implementing the following tips.

  • The first and foremost step to reducing waste is inspecting the nature and quantum of waste generated in your manufacturing facility. Study the trends of waste generation in your facility. Which areas produce the most waste? For instance, some facilities may find that overstocked inventory is a top waste generating area while some may find packaging section to be the main culprit. Next find out what type of items are being thrown of as waste the most. For some facilities it might be paper for some it might be plastic. The answers to these questions can help you tackle waste management more effectively.
  • Waste inspection as described above can help you create a solid plan with clear objectives towards recycling and waste handling. Create a committee specifically for waste management to successfully execute this plan. Get your employees on board. Their participation can make the manufacturing floor a safer, sustainable, healthier and more productive workplace. You can also reward waste-reduction efforts by employees to encourage more such efforts.
  • Adapt a closed-loop manufacturing approach. It’s a proactive way of handling operations. You can effectively monitor your inventory and successfully use recycled materials in the production cycle. It helps create an effective and efficient manufacturing process which essentially comprises lean manufacturing. Lean manufacturing techniques can not only help your facility turn green but more profitable also.
  • Monitor and curtail the use of hazardous materials. Such materials are especially difficult, costly and dangerous to dispose of. Prefer non-hazardous materials wherever possible.
  • Implement the policy of recovering and reusing. You will be surprised about the quantum of material which can be recovered from waste with the help of various methods such as filtration, electrolysis, centrifugation, reverse osmosis etc. Such materials can mostly be reused which helps reduce the usage of new material and saves your business a lot of money. 

Recycling Tips

A majority of manufacturing facilities are guilty of discarding good quality materials as waste due to neglect. Such materials can often be easily recycled. For instance, a majority of plastics, metal, paper, glass, electronics, textiles etc., can be recycled. There is a wide range of recycling equipment available such as industrial shredders for recycling paper, wood, rubber, plastics etc. The tips listed below can help you approach recycling at your manufacturing facility strategically for better results.

  • Carry out a detailed inspection to understand the nature of materials being discarded frequently at your facility. Next, determine the areas which are top disposers of these waste materials. Identify the recyclable materials. This will help you create a solid strategy to efficiently implement recycling initiatives at your manufacturing facility.
  • Create a recycling team under the waste management committee. Involve all your employees and encourage them to contribute towards the organization’s recycling goals through recognition and rewards. This will help your manufacturing facility achieve its recycling goals faster and more efficiently. You can also ask for their feedback to improve the process as per the needs of your facility. 
  • Sorting is an important step which should be carried out mindfully before the actual recycling process. Make use of recycling containers for collection. Label them clearly and place them in a way that they are easily accessible by the employees. Don’t shy away from using the trial and error method. It will help you figure out which type of placement of these bins works best for your facility. Proper sorting ensures that the recyclable items reach the right place. Assign personnel to monitor these bins.
  • Get in touch with the local recycling organizations. Collaborate with them. Many of these organizations often give free counseling on how your facility can adapt the best suitable recycling approach as per your needs.
  • Make it a point to continually monitor and look for improvement opportunities in your facility’s recycling process. No system is perfect and as time passes, you will mostly notice areas with scope for improvement. You can also conduct a feedback survey among your employees to get a clear picture and ask for their suggestions for improvement. This tip will help you enhance your recycling initiatives.

Given the vast nature of manufacturing facilities, implementing waste reduction and recycling programs may seem daunting. However, the efforts dedicated toward improved waste management strategy and recycling can reap dual benefits – environmental and financial.

Erich Lawson is passionate about saving the environment through effective recycling techniques and modern innovations. He works with Compactor Management Company, CA and writes on a variety of topics related to recycling, including tips and advice on how balers, compactors and shredders can be used to reduce industrial waste.

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