Friday, February 21, 2014

Moses Lake Industries saves millions by shrinking waste: A P2 success story

By Erin Jeffries, Community Outreach and Environmental Education Specialist, Hazardous Waste & Toxics Reduction Program

Participating in the Department of Ecology's Pollution Prevention (P2) Program, Moses Lake Industries, Inc. (MLI) achieved several million dollars in savings over the last five years through waste reduction, on-site treatment, recycling, water reuse, and efficiency improvements.

The company

MLI Building
Moses Lake Industries, Inc.
Named after its hometown of Moses Lake, Washington, MLI specializes in producing ultra-high purity chemicals for the semiconductor industry. MLI products are used worldwide and have been recognized for their high quality. The company has received multiple product quality awards from customers for ten years in a row.

How they achieved results

In 2009, MLI began to treat their corrosive hazardous waste following the Department of Ecology’s Treatment by Generator guidance. Neutralizing the waste and evaporating its residue reduces the dangerous waste’s volume by up to 90 percent. Treating waste on site prevents potential pollution off site.

MLI also conserves water. They reuse plastic totes and drums returned from their customers, which are rinsed with high purity water before refilling. Rinsing generates a significant amount of corrosive wastewater. The company started a water reduction program that eliminates half of the dangerous wastewater.

Methanol is a byproduct of their manufacturing process. They use the methanol as fuel for their process boiler, reducing the need to purchase propane fuel. Surplus methanol has also been sold for use as a source material in the biodiesel industry.

In 2010, MLI jump-started their recycling program and was able to redirect 20 percent of solid waste to recycling. In the past three years, they have been able to recycle 50 percent of solid waste. They recycle a wide variety of products, including steel, aluminum, copper, plastic (like drums, totes, pallets, and sample bottles), paper, cardboard, e-waste, batteries, and bulbs.

In 2013, the company launched a pilot program to study the feasibility of using products that do not meet their high purity standard. The study explored possibly manufacturing copper oxide, a dry raw material used in many industries. The pilot was successful, and the results will be used to determine the economic benefit of a full-scale operation. One significant potential is the process could be used to turn waste materials into a marketable copper oxide product.

Less dangerous waste means less risk for workers

Keeping dangerous waste around means workers could be exposed to harmful chemicals. MLI is dedicated to plant safety, so they set annual goals for waste reduction, energy efficiency, and air quality.

Certain businesses are required to prepare Pollution Prevention Plans for voluntarily reducing their hazardous substance use and dangerous waste generation. MLI sets an excellent example for other businesses by following through with their pollution prevention opportunities.

Ecology recognized MLI’s efforts in 2003 with an Environmental Excellence Award for reducing toxic air pollution.

Managing dangerous waste is expensive. Moses Lake Industries’ culture of waste reduction saved them millions. Is your business next?

Help is available! To consult with Ecology’s Pollution Prevention experts about how to reduce waste at your Washington business, contact your regional office.

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