Waste Minimization and Recycling

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Recycling and waste minimization may be the best ways to deal with hazardous waste. Waste minimization reduces the volume of waste generated, whereas recycling means that less hazardous waste requires disposal. Techniques for waste minimization may include audits, better inventory management, production process/equipment modifications, and operational/ maintenance procedures. Raw material changes, volume reductions, nonhaz-ardous material substitutions, reuse, or recovery also reduce hazardous waste production. For example biodegradable, nontoxic lactate esters are solvents manufactured from renewable carbohydrate sources that can be substituted for toxic halogenated solvents.

The EPA's Industrial Toxics Project is a nonregulatory program initiated in 1990 to achieve, voluntarily, overall reductions for seventeen toxic chemicals reported in the government's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), including cadmium, lead, mercury, trichloroethylene, and toluene. The recycling of waste through waste exchanges is one aspect of industrial ecology and another way to address the issue of hazardous waste disposal. For example the sludge that accumulates in scrubbers removing sulfur dioxide from power plant smokestacks contains calcium sulfate, which can be recycled in wallboard. Waste exchange also promotes the use of one company's waste as another company's raw material. Waste exchanges typically list both available and desired materials. Several regional waste exchanges exist, as well as exchanges within small geographic regions. Some exchanges charge for their services, whereas others are supported by grants.

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