The industry is the leading user of hazardous materials and largest producer of waste. Even though industrialization has contributed to the development and progression of the nation, its role in hazardous and toxic waste generation is understood and has moved much of the industry into joining with regulatory bodies in developing methods to clean up and dramatically reduce pollution. Although there exist several domestic and international regulations on hazardous materials management for industries, statistics prove that a large number of organizations still do not take all the necessary precautions when handling dangerous substances.
It is not because these corporations and entities are not aware of the dangerous effects of improper management of hazardous materials and waste on the environment. It’s because day-to-day business or operations issues often cause a complacent attitude when it comes to implementing safety best practices. And often, it is when a major accident happens that the seriousness of the matter is fully realized. By that time, of course, the extent of damage caused to the environment could be irreversible.
Manufacturing Industries and the Types of Waste Produced
Companies use all kinds of dangerous materials that are highly flammable, combustible, poisonous and radioactive. Of all the industries, the manufacturing industry uses and produces the greatest amount of hazardous materials and hazardous waste. The following are the hazardous wastes produced by five different manufacturing industries:
The metal industry produces cyanide waste, heavy metal waste, and strong acids and bases.
The paper and printing industry produces corrosive and ignitable wastes.
The chemical industry produces reactive and ignitable wastes.
The furniture industry produces ignitable wastes, solvents and paint wastes.
The cleaning and cosmetic industry produce ignitable wastes, solvents, heavy metal dust, and sludges.
Effects of Hazardous Wastes on the Environment
If improperly managed, hazardous materials and hazardous waste could lead to environmental degradation. Let us look at some of the effects of hazardous materials on the environment.
Acidification – Acidification refers to the changes in chemistry of both water and soil caused by the reduction of pH levels. This happens due to the anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Eutrophication – This refers to the increase of phytoplankton in lakes, rivers, and oceans causing the depletion of oxygen in the water and thereby reducing the population of fish and other species.
Acid Rain/Snow – This refers to rain or snow that is acidic in nature. It is caused by the emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that react with water molecules in the atmosphere to produce acids.
Global Warming – Global warming is mainly caused by deforestation and the emission of increasing levels of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
Effective Hazardous Materials Management Software
The Manufacturing Industry can truly benefit from comprehensive materials management software to track materials from the cradle to the grave throughout their usage lifecycle. Particularly, this flexible and comprehensive solution fully automates the purchasing and vendor management process and thus manages every aspect of the materials requirement supply chain. An important aspect of this software is that it tracks different legislation and standards put forward by various agencies and associations, such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association).
Thus through effective hazardous waste recycling and hazardous materials management, industries can ensure environmental health and safety.
Additionally, many of these under developed countries not only lack safe guards but they also lack the reputable and well trained experts needed to successfully and safely handle chemical waste disposal. The industries built around chemical and medical waste disposal in the United States and many other countries are well funded and highly advanced in their use of technology. Their employees are well compensated for their risky jobs and are trained extensively to ensure that no one is harmed in the transport and disposal of any of these hazardous materials.
In countries with less resources putting together similar systems is nearly impossible. There are lacking infrastructure to safely transport the questionable material and there is a lack of education that makes finding qualified employees difficult. Safe guarding the hazardous waste disposal in these countries is a seemingly insurmountable task to take on and in most cases it seems there is a willful cooperation with the current status.
Looking at the dangers in other countries is truly enlightening and makes you appreciate whatever well trained and safe chemical and medical waste disposal company currently serving your community. It is incredibly scary to think of the alternative. A world where opportunistic and immoral business owners take advantage of inadequacies and endanger our friends and family.