Mercury is used in many household products, but if those products are broken or disposed of improperly, toxic mercury can be released into the environment. When spilled, it can be absorbed into nearby materials where it will continue to release vapors.
A new partnership between Veolia and Covanta, a large owner and operator of infrastructure for the conversion of waste-to-energy, enables Covanta customers to use Veolia’s RecyclePak® to recycle lamps, batteries and other products containing mercury.
The RecyclePak program offers an efficient means for small to medium-sized companies to comply with disposal regulations. Using Veolia’s RecyclePak program, customers choose from several sizes and types of recycling containers, and when the container is full, they place it back into the provided return shipping packaging and return it to a Veolia facility for processing. This ensures complete compliance while reducing the risk of contamination.
Covanta’s partnership makes the RecyclePak program available to businesses, consumers and cities. It assists their ability to recycle universal wastes such as lamps, ballasts, batteries and other products that contain hazardous substances, in a convenient and environmentally-responsible manner.
“Environmental sustainability and mitigating harmful risks to our planet are exactly what Covanta’s Clean World Initiative is all about. By providing convenient and effective recycling services such as RecyclePak to our customers, we are fulfilling our mission towards sustainable materials management.” - John Moffitt, Director of Technical Services, Covanta Environmental Solutions.
Although the majority of a mercury-containing lamp can be recycled, according to the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers, only 24 percent of the approximately 600 million mercury-containing lamps discarded each year are properly recycled in accordance with applicable state and federal regulations. By separating products into their components and reusing the components and by-products, businesses and consumers reduce waste, divert waste from landfills, save energy and conserve resources.
Everyone knows the “three R’s” – reduce, recycle and reuse. What is less known is how deeply these practices are embedded in the daily life of numerous companies Read More »
The EPA has published its new ruling on coal combustion residuals, intended to address the disposal of this waste from coal-fired power plants. Commonly known as “coal ash,” coal combustion residuals are generated during the production of energy from coal. Read More »
41 million Americans didn’t expect to find pharmaceuticals mixed with their drinking water when the Associated Press conducted a study back in 2008, but pharmaceuticals like antibiotics and sex hormones were in there anyway. Although the amounts were miniscule, well within EPA-approved limits, the concentration of trace organic compounds (TOrCs) has increased in wastewater streams as more people rely on these products for everyday uses. Proper prescription drug disposal plays a key role, but because of concerns related to public and aquatic health, there is increasing interest in technology and legislation to evaluate occurrence and removal of TOrCs.
A Milwaukee study shows promise
In Milwaukee, Veolia North America announced study findings showing the successful removal of 75% of the pharmaceuticals and phosphorous from wastewater using the company's Actiflo® Carb technology. The technology’s relatively small footprint and reasonable cost allows it to be readily integrated into many existing wastewater treatment facilities.
The 8-week study, part of a multi-year partnership with a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), was granted with funding from the Water Environment Research Foundation and conducted by process engineers from Veolia and its subsidiary Kruger, Inc. with the support of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. You can read the full study here.
Reducing pharmaceuticals from the start
The best way to reduce the amount of pharmaceuticals in drinking water is to make sure that they’re never flushed down the toilet in the first place. Legislation passed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) takes steps to solve that problem. The DEA’s Final Rule for the Disposal of Controlled Substances was published at the end of last year and is written to make it easier to transfer controlled substances to people and organizations authorized to ensure proper disposal.
Before this Act was passed, there was very little that patients could do to eliminate unwanted controlled substances. Unwanted controlled substances could only be given to law enforcement, as doctors’ offices, hospitals and pharmacies were banned from accepting them. As a result, many people flushed unused drugs in the toilet or threw them away, sending them directly into the waste stream.
With the passage of the Act, certain DEA registrants (manufacturers, distributors, reverse distributors, narcotic treatment programs, retail pharmacies and hospitals/clinics with an on-site pharmacy) can modify their registration with the DEA to become authorized to set up collection sites, creating a new way for patients to get rid of unused pharmaceuticals and helping to keep the waterways safe. Several communities also organize safe disposal days – New York for instance has collected over 745 tons of harmful household products since 2012, much of it cleaning agents and unused medications, taking in these products at several collection events in city parks.
The concentration of these contaminants in wastewater is miniscule. But the use of technology and legislation that helps prevent the problem in the first place are effective first starts toward alleviating public concern.
Offshore oil and gas operators work under extreme weather conditions in the North Atlantic Ocean. One of them, the energy giant BP, has embarked on a redeployment plan. It has chosen Veolia to develop projects to reuse and recycle subsea equipment.
In 2011, BP and its partners announced their intention to invest around £3 billion in the redeployment of the Schiehallion and Loyal fields, known as the Quad 204 project. The investment will go into new facilities to extend the productive life of the fields until at least 2035.
To depths of 450 meters
Located some 175 km west of Shetland, the Schiehallion and Loyal oil fields were discovered by BP and its partners in 1993. To date, almost 400 million barrels of oil have been produced since operations began in 1998.
The harsh environment west of Shetland requires many special engineering considerations to be taken into account to build a viable offshore structure capable of operating under these challenging conditions. Firstly, the water depths of between 350 and 450 meters mean that a traditional fixed platform cannot be used. Instead, a specially designed ship, known as a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, produces oil and gas from the Schiehallion and Loyal fields via an infrastructure anchored to the seabed using mooring lines. It consists of fixed structures on the seabed and flow lines transporting oil and gas to the vessel on the surface. Read More »
New York City's harmful household products recovery program is already one of the world's largest. Now thanks to public support and much success, the program has just doubled in size.
The NYC SAFE (Solvents, Automotive, Flammables and Electronics) Disposal events, administered by the New York City Department of Sanitation and supported by Veolia, encourage residents to bring items such as pesticides, cleaning agents, mercury thermostats, paint, motor oil, electronics and medications.
"New Yorkers arrive on foot and in their cars and even take taxis to drop off their harmful household products," explains Richard Johnsen, special services manager, Veolia North America.
"Most of these materials are found in just about anyone's home and can be recycled, recovered or reclaimed. For instance, liquid wastes can be blended for fuel and energy recovery at our North American solvent recovery facilities. This is infinitely better than risking potential hazards to children and pets or possibly polluting the environment. There's a great reward in seeing people's faces as they drop off their material, knowing they've done the right thing."
Each year, the U.S. produces 530,000 tons of this type of waste. There are five easy ways to safely and properly dispose of it:
- Attend a collection event
- Drop off materials at local recycling facilities
- Take advantage of a mail-in program
- Participate in a take-back program
- Share unused materials with others
Transforming harmful household products and waste (HHP) into useful materials is part of Veolia’s commitment to the circular economy. In this economy, waste that is traditionally worthless is transformed into something valuable, creating new revenue streams and protecting the environment.
NYC SAFE Disposal
To support the NYC Department of Sanitation's SAFE Disposal program, which includes collection events and drop-off sites, Veolia provides environmental specialists, equipment, material and expertise to properly manage the HHP collected.
New York City removed over 400 tons of harmful household products from the waste stream last year, demonstrating how harmful waste can be safely removed and turned into something useful. Cities with effective programs like this aid in the sustainability of the earth’s resources and contribute to the circular economy.
For those in the NYC area, upcoming SAFE Disposal events will be held at:
- Sunday, August 23 - Manhattan: Union Square Park
- Saturday, September 12 - Staten Island: Midland Beach Parking Lot, Fr. Capodanno Blvd.
- Saturday, September 19 - Queens SAFE Event: Astoria Parking Lot
In addition to supporting one of the world's largest harmful household products collection efforts in NYC, Veolia has helped more than 2,500 U.S. communities manage their HHP.
From Paris to Frankfurt, people are recycling plastic bags, reducing CO2 emissions and even reprocessing the Eiffel Tower. Read More »
In a conventional economy, processes and material flows are linear, going from cradle to grave - literally, extraction, production and disposal. In the circular economy, consumption patterns are designed to mirror the more cyclical approach of natural ecosystems. Used goods would serve as byproducts that could be reused in other manufacturing processes, creating a virtuous cycle in tune with the environment. Energy would mainly come from renewable sources. Read More »
With refiners continuing to face financial pressures from the downward trend in oil prices, the pressure to enhance operational efficiency keeps growing. In an interview with BIC Magazine, Steve Hopper, president and CEO of Veolia North America’s industrial business, recommends that refineries use long-term residual management solutions to return value while also reducing waste. Read More »
A recent award by the Washington State Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) marks a very important milestone for Veolia - 14 OSHA VPP STAR certified sites are now up and running in North America. DOSH awarded Veolia’s Vancouver facility with Voluntary Protection Program status (VPP) at its highest level - the Star Award level – recognizing Veolia's achievements toward exemplary occupational safety and health compliance. Read More »