From the proper disposal of hazardous waste, to companies finding new approaches to reduce, reuse and recycle, the world is ready for change. While our economy has suffered during these times, it has given companies and the world a chance to refocus their priorities.
By Bob Cappadona
As the country adapts to the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, both the private sector and municipalities have adjusted to the new normal in a number of key ways including better sustainability and waste disposal solutions.
Before the pandemic Americans faced increasingly complex environmental challenges, whether it was maintaining safe wastewater systems or creatively reducing and reusing waste. During this time, cities, towns and business communities have working on pivoting to the long-term goals of sustainability. And now, as that transition is being solidified, the COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping consumer behavior and how businesses approach waste disposal. These shifting dynamics have led to an accelerated adoption of cutting-edge industry solutions.
In September 2019, Veolia team members in Simi Valley, CA organized various categories of household hazardous waste into bulk drums for safe disposal.
Photos courtesy of Veolia North America.
Disposing of Hazardous Waste
Each year, the U.S. generates hundreds of millions of hazardous wastes. While many household hazardous wastes can safely be recycled, other disposables are needed in landfills or incinerators. More than ever before, the ripple effects of coronavirus are challenging companies and local governments with implementing proper household hazardous waste collection and disposal.
This challenge particularly resonates for homeowners that want the best option to safely dispose of their household waste. Many homeowners have spent their quarantine reconnecting with family and working from home and, thus, have the opportunity to begin household projects such as cleaning out the basement and organizing the garage and cabinets. Often, these projects reveal hazardous waste in need of disposal. Any household product that is labeled with Danger, Warning, Toxic, Flammable or Corrosive is considered a household hazardous waste. Items such as antifreeze, aerosol cans, propane, batteries, electronics and small appliances are illegal to put in the garbage or pour down the drain.
It is important to ensure communities dispose of household hazardous waste responsibly. This includes increasing awareness of warning labels and disposal locations. Although improving awareness seems like an easy fix, there are serious consequences to avoiding hazardous waste guidelines. The EPA says long term effects include possible threat to human health and environmental pollution. As such, homeowners are encouraged to look into local drop-off or pick up options to keep their communities safe and clean.
Example: An Increase in Minnesota
A recent example during the COVID-19 statewide quarantine displays an increase of home projects in Minnesota. Minnesotans were overwhelmingly engaged in home improvement projects and cleaning out the basement or garage. Over the past weeks, Minnesota’s hazardous waste collection agency was inundated with people looking to dispose of chemicals, paints and other forms of household hazardous waste. In just the past two weeks, the state’s top household hazardous waste disposal contractor saw a 50 percent increase in household hazardous waste volumes that needed proper disposal.
In mid-March, as the pandemic took hold across the country, waste operations in 85 of 87 counties throughout Minnesota were shut down to ensure public safety. The state’s agency tasked with managing household hazardous waste—the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)—relied on its partnership with contractors, including Veolia North America. These partnerships were put in place to ensure that waste collection and disposal sites were cleared, and materials were properly transported and processed. Although waste collection sites were closed, Minnesotans continued to accumulate routine household hazardous wastes as home improvements produced products needing proper disposal.
The program’s first priority was focused on revamping operations to ensure the safety of the public and staff. As companies began reopening in May, Veolia worked with the MPCA and county household hazardous waste programs throughout the state to transport and properly dispose of the onslaught of materials being turned in.
Developing a Circular Economy
For years, most cities sought to have their residents separate their household hazardous waste products from the rest of their garbage. This would give cities the opportunity to have hazardous waste brought to a special collection facility or have the materials collected. The pandemic has, unfortunately, added unforeseen stresses at many facilities. Recently, many places have increasingly informed consumers about alternatives—such as reducing hazardous waste—and the hazards associated with many common household products. Recycling hazardous waste has a number of benefits including reducing the consumption of raw materials and the volume of waste materials that must be treated and properly disposed of.
By working with companies like Veolia—where I have assisted municipalities around the country on water, waste and energy solutions for 30 years—cities and organizations achieve remarkable energy efficiency, as well as savings and consumer trust, by using circular economy initiatives that reuse resources for as long as possible.
The overarching purpose of developing a circular economy is to allow businesses and communities to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. Above reducing trash in landfills and encouraging recycling, circular economies are designed to turn waste into a valuable, productive resource to be used again. By reintroducing waste into the production cycle, instead of disposing of products at the end of their useful life, businesses are able to repurpose it and allow it to be used in various forms.
In Pittsburg, CA, a process water treatment plant owned by Dow Chemical has been overhauled to be more sustainable in a region that is frequently impacted by water shortages and restrictions. As the contractor hired to perform the overhaul, Veolia has installed sophisticated chemical softening technology to improve the flow of the water moving through the plant to prevent wasteful backups. This has gone a long way in preserving water resources and reducing costs within the plant.
A report put out by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that the full value of circular opportunities could be as much as $700 billion each year in savings. Cost savings and operational efficiencies are direct incentives to implement circular initiatives, creating an additional return on investment or new sources of revenue from a service model that extracts the maximum value of resources.
A number of high-profile companies are already seeing success from implementing circular economy initiatives. For instance, Heineken went beyond just recycling glass bottles by using waste heat from a nearby factory, recycling water and selling spent grains as cattle feed. They are also working on making higher value products from the used grain by extracting the proteins, fats and other components for use in food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Meanwhile, Dell is experimenting with creating and selling jewelry made from precious metals extracted from recycled circuit boards. It is important to note that gold extracted from discarded motherboards has an environmental impact 99 percent lower than gold produced through strip mining methods.
Refocusing Our Priorities
Since the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled this country in many ways, we are seeing the initiatives that companies and homeowners are taking to ensure the safety of communities. From the proper disposal of hazardous waste, to companies finding new approaches to reduce, reuse, and recycle, the world is ready for change. While our economy has suffered during these times, it has given companies and the world a chance to refocus their priorities. People are recognizing the many benefits that develop from a circular economy and are willing to work towards a safer future.
Bob Cappadona is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the Environmental Solutions & Services division of Veolia North America. He joined Veolia Environmental Services in 1991 as the Director of Regulatory Affairs for the company’s hazardous waste management operations in Flanders, NJ. In 1996, he moved to New England to become the General Manager for the branch operations in that area, and in 2008, he became the Vice President of Service Operations for the Eastern region of the company. In 2012, Bob assumed responsibility for Veolia’s operations in the Western Region. In 2014, he became the Senior Vice President for the Environmental Solutions & Services business of Veolia’s Industrial business line. In 2015, his scope of responsibility expanded to include Veolia’s environmental business lines in Canada. In 2016, he was named Chief Operating Officer of both the ESS business and Veolia’s Industrial offerings in Canada. Bob can be reached at Bob.Cappadona@Veolia.com.
Credit to Wasteadvantage.com for the article.
Hazardous Waste Management Software
HazMat T&T is a hazardous waste management software solution designed for Environmental Service Companies and companies who generate a large quantity of hazardous waste. The solution tracks hazardous waste from cradle to grave aiding compliance, providing accurate waste inventory, increasing waste handling efficiency, reducing risk and also helps manage waste costs. HazMat T&T Hazardous Waste Management Software can be deployed in a number of deployment scenarios, from Large Hazardous Waste Generators, tracking their hazardous waste at their site to Environmental Service and Waste Management Companies using it track and manage hazardous waste at transfer and disposal sites.
Fire Extinguisher Barcode Inspection Software
Fire Extinguisher Barcode Inspection Software system can be used to manage monthly fire extinguisher inspections, annual inspections and 6 year and 12 year inspections and also general fire safety inspections. Allowing Managers to record safety observations while performing facility tours which can improve overall fire safety. A Fire Extinguisher Inspection Software system that can create corrective actions as a result of inspection failures and allocate these corrective active actions to the appropriate persons, with deadlines for resolution will greatly reduce the time, effort and cost of managing NFPA inspections. Implementing a Fire Extinguisher Barcode System, where users scan each fire extinguisher using a Mobile Fire Extinguisher Inspection Software App aids with compliance with NFPA and The joint Commission and other Authorities having Jurisdiction(ADJ’s) within Universities, Colleges, Hospitals, Medical Centers, Manufacturing, Oil and Gas and many other sectors.
Easy to Use – Fire Extinguisher Barcode System
IMEC Inspection Software is am easy to use fire extinguisher barcode system which will schedule, manage, track and report on any type of inspection, including Facility, Equipment, People etc. Use Cases include fire extinguisher barcode system, equipment or asset inspection system or facilities inspection software. When used as a fire extinguisher barcode system Inspections are performed via the Mobile app which is available on iOS, Android and Windows devices. The user identifies the inspection point by scanning a barcode, or picking from a list based on location. The Mobile App which is part of the fire extinguisher barcode system will then display the list of custom Forms or Checklists. The fire extinguisher barcode system inspections can be performed offline if no internet connection is available.
The IMEC Mobile Safety App can also be used as a Fire Door Inspection App and with the Web based flexible Forms Manager the solution can be used as a Fire Door Inspection Software Solution also. Fire Door Inspection Software is used is large facilities with large quantities of Fire Doors like Hospitals, Universities and also Cruise Ships.
Not Just A Fire Extinguisher Barcode System but a Complete Fire Life Safety Inspection Software Solution
IMEC Inspection Software can be deployed as a full Fire Life Safety Inspection Software solution that can be used to manage an organization’s full range of fire and life safety inspections. The IMEC Fire Life Safety Inspection Software can manage any type of inspection, use cases include Fire Doors, Fire Pumps, Eyewash Stations, Emergency Lights, Emergency Showers, Grease Traps, AED’s and many more. The IMEC Fire Life Safety Inspection Software can manage any type safety equipment or asset inspection. The user identifies the inspection point by scanning a barcode, or picking from a list based on location. The Mobile App will then display the list of custom Forms or Checklists. The solution can be used within Hospitals as a Hospital Inspection Software solution to manage all hospital inspections and Environment of Care Rounds. Hospital Inspection Software makes Daily, Weekly and Monthly Inspections more efficient and accurate. IMEC’s Hospital Inspection Software allows health care and facility managers to monitor the inspections across their entire organization to aid compliance and increase efficiency.
EH&S Inspection Software
IMEC’s EH&S Inspection Software can be used to manage any type of EHS Inspection and allows manager to record safety observations while performing facility tours which can improve overall workplace safety. This EH&S Inspection Software solution that can create corrective actions as a result of inspection failures for inspections performed using the Safety Inspection Software Mobile App. Corrective actions are allocated to the appropriate persons, with deadlines for resolution which will greatly reduce the time, effort and cost of managing compliance inspections. Implementing an EH&S Inspection software solution, where users using the Safety Inspection Software Mobile App can easily perform inspections in the field aids compliance, reduces risk and standardizes the inspection process within your organization.
Asset Inspection Management Software
IMEC’s Asset Inspection Management Software can be used to manage any type of Asset Inspection. This Asset Inspection Management Software solution can create corrective actions as a result of asset inspection failures for inspections. Corrective actions are allocated to the appropriate persons, with deadlines for resolution which will greatly reduce the time, effort and cost of managing compliance inspections. Implementing an Asset Inspection management software solution, where users using a Mobile App can easily perform inspections in the field aids compliance, reduces risk and standardizes the inspection process within your organization.
Lock Out Tag Out Software Solutions
IMEC’s Lock Out Tag Out Software Solutions allow a LOTO procedure to be defined for each piece of equipment that requires LOTO to be managed within the system. Equipment can be managed from both Mobile and Web App. Isolation points for the each piece of equipment are managed, images associated with both the piece of equipment and isolation points can be annotated to include energy source icon, arrows, sequence etc. Lock Out Tag Out Procedures can be authored using the Mobile App with version control and with an approval workflow. Lock Out Tag Out Procedures are executed using the Mobile App on any Smart Phone or Tablet. Lockout Tagout procedures are initiated by the user identifying the piece of equipment by either scanning QR Code or selecting the piece of equipment from a list. A complete history of completed Lockout Tagout Procedures is recorded. The status for the piece of equipment can be updated after LOTO is complete – Locked / Unlocked. An Audit option on the Mobile App allows a procedure to be reviewed without performing LOTO on the piece of equipment. Corrective Actions can be created for any Non-conformances or changes required recorded during the Procedure Review. Data Analytics within the IMEC Lock Out Tag Out Software Solutions provide machine downtime analysis to aid in operational efficiency and investment decisions.
IMEC Technologies provides Safety Management Software to increase worker safety and aid compliance. IMEC’s Safety Management Software will manage inspections and audits, provides hazard identification, incident reporting, management of corrective and preventative actions from generation to closure. IMEC provides lock out tag out software solutions that will allow users to create lockout tagout procedures using an intuitive Mobile App and Manage Lockout Tagout Procedures, also the Review and Execution of those Lockout Tagout Procedures using the Mobile App. Annual Lockout Tagout Procedures audits are conducted using a Mobile App. The Mobile Inspection App allow users to perform inspections and audits, for example the system can be used as a Fire Extinguisher Barcode Inspection Software system to manage monthly fire extinguisher inspections and general fire safety inspections and also to record safety observations and manage corrective actions, anywhere and anytime. The solution can be used as a fire extinguisher barcode inspection software system or life safety inspection system to aid compliance in Higher Education, Healthcare, Industrial and Commercial Organizations. Benefits from a Fire Extinguisher Barcode System include the elimination of paperwork and reducing the burden of compliance with regulations such as NFPA, The Joint Commission. The Mobile App can also be used as a Fire Door Inspection App and with the flexible Forms Manager the solution can be used as a Fire Door Inspection Software Solution also. Fire Door Inspection Software is used is large facilities with large quantities of Fire Doors like Hospitals, Universities and also Cruise Ships. The Incident Reporting App allows users to easily and quickly report incidents, hazards and near-misses, these are then sent to the appropriate people for action and are managed to closure. Web Apps provide features such as, setup, management, scheduling tools, analysis, reporting and dashboards etc with the ability to report incidents to government bodies such as OSHA and RIDDOR. HazMat T&T is a hazardous waste management software solution designed for Environmental Service Companies and companies who generate a large quantity of hazardous waste. The solution tracks hazardous waste from cradle to grave aiding compliance, providing accurate waste inventory, increasing waste handling efficiency, reducing risk and also helps manage waste costs. HazMat T&T Hazardous Waste Management Software can be deployed in a number of deployment scenarios, from Large Hazardous Waste Generators, tracking their hazardous waste at their site to Environmental Service and Waste Management Companies using it track and manage hazardous waste at transfer and disposal sites. For more information visit our website www.imectechnologies.com