Finding Raw Material from Waste

Disposal of hazardous waste can be deadly. It can seriously harm or kill plants, animals and people. It is a critical issue that needs to be tackled. Companies have been fined but that really has not helped solve the problem. Nobody likes change because status quo feels safer, it is familiar, we are used to it. It is easier to imagine what we do not know will not hurt us. Sometimes it is easier to pay the fine than dispose of the waste safely. I am sure we have all heard this before. I do not know about you but I am tired of all the doom and gloom. I want something to cheer for. I want hope for the future of my children and their children.

The choice is obvious: reduce our impact on the environment. Doing that can actually open up a whole new world of opportunity. Unfortunately for us all, the problem of illegal dumping is exceptionally large and extremely complex; that it would take tremendous effort, time and money to combat it. Andrew Mangan, executive director at the US Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) knows something we all need to learn. All crisis are opportunities. The crisis we are facing is huge. But the opportunity hidden in its coils is just as great.

Mangen encourages companies to recognise that one company’s waste can be another company’s raw material. The US BCSD has the solution. Commodity markets are so hot these days that even yellow is translating into green. The By-Products process breaks down the barriers to cross-industry communication. It tears down walls between government and industry and between small and large companies, by fostering dialogue and working across groups to identify supply chain waste minimization opportunities.

The Chemical Logistics Vision 2020 Report predicts higher transport volume concentration around chemical clusters and longer, more complex supply chains by the year 2020. The review published by Cefic’s logistics group, together with Deloitte, provides a picture of chemical logistics trends likely to occur in the coming decade and is derived from input received from logistics directors of key industry players combined with sector experience from Deloitte.

Among the many findings, measures to reduce transport carbon emissions and improved safety and security are predicted to lead to more regulations and drive the introduction of new supply chain models. Cefic Transport & Logistics Head Jos Verlinden said: “It’s clear that efficient, competitive and sustainable logistics are essential for the industry’s future. Complex supply chains, capacity constraints and infrastructure congestion will present important challenges.”

The BPS advantage is that through extensive collaboration, coordinated and facilitated, organizations discover innovative ways to integrate their operations that cut pollution, and reduce material costs, improve internal processes and improve the bottom line. By taking “wastes” from one company and using them as raw materials for another, industry can turn a negative into a positive – for the environment and shareholders.

There are three keys to a successful by-product synergy process. They are diversity, communication and partnerships. Participants come together in projects representing a wide range of industries and organizations, which in turn broaden the markets in which participants find business opportunities. For example, a cement manufacturer uses the slag from a neighboring steel mill in its production process, resulting in a 10% increase in production output and a 30-40% decrease in nitrogen oxide emissions.

The first time the steel and cement companies got together was awkward. They were not accustomed to thinking about — much less working with — managers from another industry. But as the talks continued, the awkwardness passed and they began to consider several interesting questions: The benefits of the synergy approach go far beyond the steel industry. The Business Council for Sustainable Development for the Gulf of Mexico (BCSD-GM) is promoting the idea worldwide. The Gulf council is playing matchmaker marrying 21 major companies in the Mexican seaport of Tampico.

This is how it works. The BPS process breaks down the barriers to cross-industry communication, as well as the barriers between government and industry and between small and large companies, by fostering dialogue and working across groups to identify supply chain localization and waste minimization opportunities. Recognizing these advantages, and building on the success of BPS projects in other areas, the US BCSD has initiated a BPS project in the greater Houston region for 2009. The Greater Houston BPS involves establishing a forum where companies, regulators and local governments explore reuse, recovery, remanufacturing, and recycling opportunities through collected information and facilitated interactions.

Sustainable development makes good business sense because it creates competitive advantages and new opportunities.

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