A scientist with Dow Chemical Co. says a great deal of progress has been made in reducing hazardous industrial waste, but more advances are needed.
Tom Lingafelter, environmental control manager for Dow's Western Division in Pittsburg, Calif., said early this week that waste reduction is essential for long-term environmental protection.Lingafelter earned a master's degree in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He joined Dow in 1970. He has served as environmental manager for air quality.
"Waste reduction is a lot of different things rolled into an integrated program," he told the Deseret News.
Dow sees this project in terms of not generating waste in the first place, where it's avoidable; recycling; finding new uses; and turning a potential waste material into a raw material that can be used in another process.
"We're using a lot of byproduct material. Instead of wasting it, we can use it as a raw material in some other process." Dow started a program called "Waste Reduction Always Pays," designed to encourage employees to find ways of reducing wastes.
In the early 1970s, Dow reduced discharges into the river near its Pittsburg plant by about 95 percent. That was done by recycling and put-ting hazardous waste water into solar evaporation ponds.
While waste reduction aims at achieving the goal of no hazardous waste, that's not attainable, Linga-felter said.
So Dow is working on ways to reduce volume and toxicity of its waste. Much of what remains is organic tars. He said the best way to get rid of it is to destroy it in an incinerator.
"If you put it in a landfill you have a potential for problems, because it doesn't go away. It's just long-term storage."
Dow would rather not use incineration because it's expensive. But it has incinerators in Michigan and Louisiana, and it's building another in Texas. A fourth Dow incinerator is proposed for California.
Eventually, he said, companies will begin handling their hazardous waste on the plant site.
"In our case it's a small on-site incinerator to handle our waste," he said. "We would not plan on shipping waste to Utah, for example."
America seems to be doing much better in reducing waste, he said, although "we have a long ways to go. We keep hearing about the millions of tons of garbage and hazardous wastes that are generated, but we've made a start."
He said America's industries generate 180 million tons of waste every year, he said. However, a survey of 221 major chemical plants docu-mented a 56 percent reduction in hazardous waste between 1981 and 1986.
Lingafelter hopes that employees will take the same attitudes into their homes, and that ideas about the importance of reducing waste will spread into the community.
"Household hazardous waste can be addressed in the same way that industrial waste is addressed - by not generating it if you can, production substitution, recycling, reusing; then for disposal, using proper disposal methods." Good ways to dispose of dangerous household products, like bug spray and paint thinner, are usually mentioned on their labels.
"You can also have household hazardous waste collection days or collection centers." Salt Lake City held such a collection in 1985, during which 11 tons of material was turned in from 600 homes.
"More of that can be done," he said.