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Top tips on using resources efficiently

There are many ways that businesses using green chemistry can reduce waste and use raw materials and water more efficiently. The following tips provide some suggested starting points to help you minimise resource use and optimise production.

  • - an untidy factory is a wasteful factory. Untidiness leads to mistakes, poor attitudes, accidental damage, out-of-date material and waste.
  • - cross-contaminating different wastes can be a big problem if it leads to waste being disposed of at a higher cost than necessary. For example, some automated systems in printing plants mix white and printed waste, reducing the resale value by 70 per cent.
  • - in paint making, once a good system is set up for recovering surpluses it is possible to recover a further 5-20 kilograms of product per batch and reduce solvent used for pump washing at the same time.
  • - businesses that make products to order tend to buy more materials than required for the job - even after allowing the standard amount for waste. This caution is justified where waste is high and variable, but better control of waste levels enables you to reduce stock wastage as well.
  • - material requirements can change, but buying and stocking policy often doesn't. This can result in slow-moving liquid materials occupying bulk tank capacity, while higher-volume items are bought in drums. To see if there is a problem, list liquid materials in order of consumption and compare the ten fastest-moving products in drums with the ten slowest-moving bulk products.
  • - to minimise the need for vessel washing between production batches and reduce the wash frequency.
  • - this can significantly reduce effluent volumes and discharge costs, as well as product loss.
  • - use automated filling methods and whole containers.
  • - this involves identifying inputs such as raw materials and outputs such as products and waste. It is used to calculate where the greatest resource losses are occurring and thus the potential for improvement.
  • - this is the only way to make real improvements in solvent performance and cost reductions are made only if staff operate and maintain the equipment correctly. Using equipment efficiently also reduces energy use.
  • - this can reduce water use by 5 per cent.
  • - this can reduce water consumption by 25 per cent.
  • - this is essential to control and reduce costs. Where possible, fit sub-meters to monitor consumption for each production area. Check water use during 'silent' periods, such as overnight and during shutdowns. If it is not close to zero, there may be a leak or plant left running unnecessarily.

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