Prioritizing Waste Streams andor Operations to Assess

Ideally, all waste streams and plant operations should be assessed. Prioritizing waste streams and/or operations to assess is necessary when available funds, personnel, or time is limited. Waste reduction assessments should concentrate on the most important waste problems first and then move to lower priority problems as time, personnel, and budget permit.

Setting priorities for waste streams or facility areas requires a great deal of care and attention, since this step focuses the direction of an assessment activity. Important criteria to consider when setting these priorities include the following.

Compliance with current and future regulations

Costs of waste management (treatment and disposal) Potential environmental and safety liability Quantity of waste

Hazardous properties of a waste (including toxicity, flammability, corrosivity, and reactivity) Other safety hazards to employees

Potential for removing bottlenecks in production or waste treatment Available budget for waste minimization assessment program and projects

Small businesses with only a few waste-generating operations should assess their entire facility. It is also beneficial to look at an entire facility when there are a large number of similar operations. The implementation of good operating measures such as soliciting employee suggestions, awareness-building programs, better inventory and maintenance procedures, and internal cost accounting changes can be implemented on a facility-wide basis. Many of these options do not require large capital expenditures and can be put into operation in a relatively short time.

Performing the mass balance may be the most difficult part of the waste audit, but it will make the remainder of the waste reduction process easier and more effective.

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