Waste minimization is fast gaining recognition as a means of contending with the world’s waste problems and associated environmental pollution. Many countries have, or are now enacting, environmental legislation that will almost certainly include waste-minimization provisions. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency requires generators of hazardous wastes to report on efforts made to minimize waste volume and/or toxicity. These reporting requirements have been the catalyst for the initiation of many innovative and successful approaches to waste minimization.

There are many incentives for implementing waste-minimization programs, aside from the regulatory/compliance issue. Waste-disposal costs have risen dramatically over the last few years and this trend is expected to continue. Improvements in environmental conditions improve morale and image, both in the workplace and local communities.

Perhaps because of the compliance hysteria, waste-minimization efforts have typically focused on the physical removal of hazardous chemicals from the waste stream only, an end-of-pipe approach. Intricate systems have been developed to remove such compounds from the environment, with great success. This approach, however, is compliance driven and does not address the key to environmental fidelity-attitude.

This paper discusses the efforts of one oilfield service company, located in the United States, that initiated an integrated approach to the minimization of waste, including:

  • Removal of hazardous chemicals from washwater streams.

  • Recycling of commonly used chemicals, particularly solvents.

  • Substitution of commonly used hazardous chemicals with less hazardous compounds.

  • Recycling of office wastes.

  • Education and awareness programs.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.