Environmental Management Approaches and Waste Audit

Environmental strategies, waste audit and cost-efficiency

The purpose of current research is to provide the comprehensive analysis of environmental management approaches in terms of conducting full-spectrum waste audit. Currently existing ecological problems pose new challenges to enterprising units which are obliged according to national legislation to utilize environmentally safe equipment which reduces the contamination of land, water and atmosphere. The result of these obligatory condition is that management of industrial companies face up with urgent need of optimizing the whole production process in order to meet both cost-efficiency and environmental goals (Cherni 2002, p. 123).

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The analysis of environmental management strategies and waste audit will be tackled based on the example of the company which manufactures school furniture and various kitchen units. Proceeding from concrete investigation of environmental challenges, necessary tasks, existing resources, problems, cost connected with the environmental protection certain proposals will be made on enhancing existing approaches to waste audit.

The necessity of waste self-audit as the prerequisite for sound environmental strategies

Waste audits are indispensable procedure in modern industrial enterprises working on the large scale of production. There is no denying the importance of the fact that realizing production activities in modern society should be made in correspondence with existing environmental protection standards which put forward strict requirements on waste recycling, air pollution limitation, waste management, community safety and health issues.

Hence, for a company to be effective it is urgent not only to maximize its profits but to accommodate business strategies and plans with social mission and environmental standards. Unless new environment protection methods and procedures are not implemented the company is likely to lose its reputation as responsible actor. Besides this many state agencies impose high fines and penalties for those who violate the set standards (what concerns furniture companies operating with the frames of woodworking industry these standards and guidelines are regulated by SEPA which in its turn realizes international agreements and directives adopted within IPPC) (IPPC 1996).

Besides this it should be noted that organization and permanent realization of waste self-audits is crucial for companies in terms of planning and managing their business activities since environmental protection presupposes additional labor and capital fund costs as the example of analyzed company shows. Without including these costs effective environmental management in impossible and hence a company will face up with poor performance and operational organization.

In general waste audits include the process of measuring the volume, composition and quantity of waste and garbage which should deposited to predetermined site whether it special territory or landfill sectors. Besides this there is no denying the importance of the fact that waste audits may also include the defining of the scope of recycling, reuse and reduce.

Waste audits can be organized in various forms starting from visual and approximate analysis of waste substances or item-by-item inspection or when it concerns industrial plants – the analysis of waste composition including chemical and physical parameters (Lynes 2005, p. 27). Notwithstanding the difference between various audit methods all they have in common is the necessity to strictly define the goals which are pursued, organization of good data collection, management levels cooperation and future optimization of business processing in correspondence with collected audit results.

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Waste audit can not be separated from the whole framework of environmental management. This is means that is an intrinsic component of environmental strategies. The waste composition and structure should be measured with existing environmental standards, requirements and ecological certificates. The waste audit results should be implemented to achieve the goals of business-environment optimization in the view of compromising business imperatives with social ones.

Waste audits are also crucial in terms of managing financial plans and identifying future financial savings which is particular relevant in the case of A scenario where furniture firm was challenged by the increasing production costs. If service businesses are concerned waste audits and strategies can be used for improving customers’ services.

Waste audits and further optimization strategies can be a source of increasing employees’ satisfaction as the are not disturbed by technical issues and waste objects which worsen working climate and create undesirable conditions (Johns 2003, 33). To sum it up waste audits should be regarded as the indispensable initiative for improving management practices and procedures in those companies which have strict environmental responsibilities. ‘Waste rationalization’ is the only way for reducing labor and other costs.

There is no denying the importance of the fact that self-audits significantly increase the organizations’ willingness to implement effective environmental strategies and therefore should be promoted. Besides this some surveys shows that the scope of environmental audits tends to increase if companies and organizations are not imposed with strict penalties and other bureaucratic mechanisms which hinder creativeness and innovation.

Scenario A for company manufacturing kitchen units and various furniture

As the general analysis of waste audits proved they should be regarded as an important element in optimizing environment and business strategies and resolving existing cost-efficiency problems. The analyzed company’s activities which are connected with environment standard system as the case-study suggests fall in category of B process specified within IPPS, which directives in their turn are adopted by Scottish environmental protection agency which has jurisdiction on this particular company. IPPC is responsible organ in EU which provides member-states’ environmental agencies with necessary legislation and normative documents on environment protection.

In its Council Directive 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 the list of industrial activities is made and separate environment standards and requirements for each type of industrial activity is elaborated (IPPC 1996).

The furniture production enterprise which may be considered as the element of woodworking industry on the final stage of wood-processing should be aware of such categories as air pollution as various paints, lacquer, gases are used during production process as well as in the case of A scenario firm – wood dust which should be prohibited from polluting atmosphere.

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The issue of air pollution will be considered later on in the proposals for VOC evaluation. Waste created during the process of wood processing according to the optimization scheme in furniture enterprise falls into the category of non-hazardous waste as it is defined in Annex A of Directive 75/442/EEC (it stipulates the capacity which exceeds 50 tons a day. Landfills which are used within this framework should receive not less than 10 tons a day and the total capacity should not exceed 25000 tons. Here we must point to evident optimization possibility which should be exercised to improve enterprise’s cost-effectiveness.

The analyzed company does not certify with these standards as it generates 350 tones of dust per year which is deposited in landfill capacities within its new optimization plan. Board offcuts contribute only for 50 tons of the waste annual which are taken into landfill capacities. These can be used by the enterprise management as a cart-blanche for reducing ecological payments and costs as well; the free sources may be used for innovation and further optimization (Townshend 2001).

Based on the analysis of woodworking industry and furniture enterprises activities the following waste audit form with approximate information should be considered by enterprise’s management to evaluate the structure of waste and materials recycled in the view of optimizing production costs.

Waste Audit Form for A scenario.

Materials and Waste Location Recycled Y/N Disposal LBS/Week Disposal Tons/yr
Dust Landfills and silos Y permanent 350 each year
Wood offcuts Landfills Y 3 weeks 50 each year
Paint, lacquer and other materials cans Working premises( should be changed) Y N/A N/A
Scrap Metals Working premises (should be changed) Y N/A 1 each year

Other waste items which are not included in the list proposed above may be evaluated through Collection Cost Audit Form

Collection Cost Audit Form.

Data of collection % Filled Pickup Cost Type Size # of Collections per Month Monthly Cost
TOTALS

It should be filled every month according to the collected data and its finding should be processed and analyzed together with ‘Materials and Waste’ audit form. Conducting these analyses on the permanent basis would allow this furniture enterprise to create comprehensive scheme for waste audit which as the abovementioned finding suggest may be used to reduce existing cost pressures and limitation which decrease total profits and corporate efficiency (Volokh 1997, 35).

Besides abovementioned measures it is necessary to develop comprehensive VOC evaluation method which is necessary for proper cost-efficiency assessment.

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In order to properly calculate VOC emission a company has to assess the total usage of lacquers, solvents, clean-up solvents per year. Other emissions generated during production process should also be included in the calculation schema.

The formula for evaluation VOC is as follows. It is needed to multiply the annual usage rate (in gallons) of lacquers, paints, make-up solvents, and various cleanup solvents by weight fraction of the VOCs in the paints, cleanup solvents, makeup solvents and lacquers.

There is no denying the importance of the fact that environmental strategies should also be implemented to guarantee effective business performance of the enterprise.

One of the main prerequisites for successful environment strategies is permanent provision of material safety information from suppliers on the materials which are used during the production process (Fry 2002). Besides this the management should remember that all shipments should be carefully inspected in search of damaged or hazardous content and materials. Such thing as preventive maintenance of equipment is also of great importance. To maximize profits and minimize costs the management should design strategies for improving inventory and purchasing methods which is needed to ensure that materials are used in time.

Waste costs can be increased by outdated and expired materials which should be equally recycled in a timely manner and on the permanent basis.

To optimize the use of electricity which was pointed by the management of furniture firm as one of the main sources of increasing cost, electricity optimization program should be elaborated including measures for effective use of copiers and lights and controlling the usage of electric power in general.

Besides this it should be noted that cost-efficiency optimization and the effective environmental strategies are difficult implement without cooperation with employees which should be fully aware of the policies which are implemented in the enterprise.

Employees’ should be familiarized with existing rules and strategies, provided with seminars, instructions. Various performance surveys may be elaborated and feedback initiated. The workers can be motivated by various incentives.

Besides this employees can be trained on various paint techniques and correct usage of equipment which is conducive of air and land pollution. There is no denying the importance of the fact that it is necessary to train employees in proper maintenance and cleaning of equipment they use. Besides this it should be guaranteed that chemical substances that are used contain low amount of dangerous substances.

To sum it up the abovementioned policies and procedure of waste audit, environmental management and optimization of cost are likely to prove effective in this particular example. It should be remembered however that they should be realized in complex and be embedded in all-embracing management’s strategic plans.

References

IPPC, 1996. Council Directive 96/61/EC concerning integrated pollution prevention and control. IPPC.

Cherni, J. A. 2002, Economic Growth Versus the Environment : The Politics of Wealth, Health and Air Pollution /. New York: Palgrave.

Chertow, M. R., & Esty, D. C.,1997, Fall, Environmental Policy: The Next Generation. Issues in Science and Technology, 14, 73-89.

Fry, P., 2002, Environmental Watchdogs. World and I, 17.

Freeman, Michael H., et al, 2003, ‘Past, Present, and Future of the Wood Preservation Industry.” Forest Products Journal 53.

Johns, Larry H., 2003, Eau Claire: Wisconsin’s Sawdust City.” Northern Logger & Timber Processor 52: 10–11, 32–34.

Lynes, J., 2006, Accounting for Waste: Holistic Waste Audits Help to Reduce Waste, Increase Awareness, and Boost Employee and Customer Loyalty. Alternatives Journal, 32, 23-45.

Townshend, I. J., 2001, ‘The Contribution of Social and Experiential Community Structures to the Intra-Urban Ecology of Well-Being’. Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 10(2), 175-210.

Volokh, A., 1997, ‘Carrots over Sticks: The Case for Environmental Self-Audits’, Washington Monthly, 29, 28-57.

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