Traditionally, waste is viewed as an unnecessary element arising from the activities of any industry. In reality, waste is a misplaced resource, existing at a wrong place at a wrong time. Waste is also the inefficient use of utilities such as electricity, water, and fuel, which are often considered unavoidable overheads.
The costs of these wastes are generally underestimated by managers. It is important to realize that the cost of waste is not only the cost of waste disposal, but also other costs such as: – disposal cost, purchase cost of wasted raw material, production cost for the waste material, management time spent on waste material, lost revenue for what could have been a product instead of waste and potential liabilities due to waste.
What is Waste Minimization?
Waste minimization can be defined as “systematically reducing waste at source”. It means:
- Prevention and/or reduction of waste generated
- Efficient use of raw materials and packaging
- Efficient use of fuel, electricity and water
- Improving the quality of waste generated to facilitate recycling and/or reduce hazard
- Encouraging re-use, recycling and recovery.
Waste minimization is the process and the policy of reducing the amount of waste produced by a person or a society. It involves efforts to minimize resource and energy use during manufacture.
For the same commercial output, usually the fewer materials are used, the less waste is produced.
Waste minimization usually requires knowledge of the production process, cradle-to-grave analysis (the tracking of materials from their extraction to their return to earth) and detailed knowledge of the composition of the waste.
Waste minimization is also known by other terms such as waste reduction, pollution prevention, source reduction and cleaner technology. It makes use of managerial and/or technical interventions to make industrial operations inherently pollution free.
It should be also clearly understood that waste minimization, however attractive, is not a panacea for all environmental problems and may have to be supported by conventional treatment/disposal solutions.
Processes of Waste Minimization
1. Resource Optimization
Minimizing the amount of waste produced by organizations or individuals goes hand-in-hand with optimizing their use of raw materials.
For example, a dressmaker may arrange pattern pieces on a length of fabric in a particular way to enable the garment to be cut out from the smallest area of fabric.
2. Reuse of Scrap Material
Scraps can be immediately re-incorporated at the beginning of the manufacturing line so that they do not become a waste product.
Many industries routinely do this; for example, paper mills return any damaged rolls to the beginning of the production line, and in the manufacture of plastic items, Off-cuts and scrap are re- incorporated into new products.