Thursday, April 10, 2014

IDEX goes from large to small generator and $aves thousands: A P2 success story

How waste designation saved IDEX in disposal costs

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

IDEX Health and Science in Oak Harbor, WA

The company

IDEX Health and Science is a global manufacturer. Their facility in Oak Harbor, Washington, makes products under the Upchurch Scientific and ISMATEC brands. They make fluidics – the tiny tubes, pumps, fittings, and filters used in labs and medical facilities. These products must meet precise standards.  

Know if a waste is dangerous – Designation changes everything

Businesses are required to “designate” their wastes. Designation assigns each type of waste a code. It helps determine whether a waste is considered dangerous and how it must be managed.

Correctly designating their wastes saved IDEX about $2,500 annually.

IDEX already reduced pollution by switching to a non-halogenated coolant, but they were disposing of it as dangerous, persistent waste. During a routine inspection, an Ecology dangerous waste inspector suggested testing the waste to help designate correctly.

IDEX followed up and tested their spent coolant. In this case, they needed to analyze it with a fish bioassay test. They discovered that it’s not considered dangerous waste, which saved disposal costs for 1,200 pounds of spent coolant per year.

The company later decided to look at their spent citric acid waste. Citric acid is used to protect stainless steel in their products from rust. Using the designation process, they discovered that their spent citric acid was not considered dangerous waste. This reduced their waste generation by 1,100 pounds per year.

Equipment improvements gain efficiencies

IDEX uses a saline solution in the equipment that cuts stainless steel tubing. A new kind of equipment requires only one percent of the saline compared to what they were using. Upgrading the cutting equipment reduced the saline waste by 1,600 pounds per year. As a result, they no longer have to dispose spent saline as dangerous waste.

The new equipment requires less water, so the upgrade also cut most of the water used in the process.


Reducing dangerous waste meant big results. IDEX was able to move from being a Large Quantity Generator of Dangerous Waste to a Medium Quantity Generator in 2005, then to a Small Quantity Generator in 2012. This means IDEX now has lower disposal costs and they save on their Pollution Prevention Planning Fee. They also have fewer regulations to follow – which reduces waste management costs.

Ecology Toxics Reduction Engineer Dan Ferguson said, “IDEX Oak Harbor put a lot of effort into reducing waste generation through research, testing, pilot projects, and working with its employees to find solutions.”

Reductions of dangerous waste per year:
  • 1,000 pounds spent coolant
  • 1,100 pounds spent citric acid
  • 1,600 pounds spent saline
Annual cost savings:
  • $4,290 in waste disposal
  • Reduced regulatory requirements, reducing staff time spent on waste management
Could your business benefit from a visit with our Toxics Reduction staff? They can help with your pollution prevention (P2) efforts. Contact your regional office.

For more P2 success stories, visit Ecology's website.

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