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Responsible Management of PFAS Waste

On July 17th, 2019, Angie Martin, our Vice President, attended the Missouri Waste Control Coalition Conference to give a presentation that addressed the health concerns, legislation, and treatment options associated with Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are a persistent group of manufactured chemicals used in water and stain repellents, nonstick coatings, cleaning products, firefighting foams, and more.

Environmental issues and health concerns have been linked to PFAS, calling for Congress to draft legislation pertaining to PFAS waste stream management and disposal. Many amendments regarding PFAS have been added to the National Defense Authorization Act, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee is currently reviewing a plethora of PFAS bills.

There are a variety of treatment options available for PFAS. However, the different chemical and physical properties of the thousands of PFAS species make selecting a treatment option challenging. With talk of the negative implications of PFAS on human health and the environment on the rise, Angie discussed possible treatment options and their effectiveness, including separation, transformation, disposal, and destruction.

SEPARATION technologies such as granular activated carbon, ion resin exchange, membrane filtration, and precipitation concentrate PFAS out of contaminated water. While these methods can be quite effective in removing PFAS from water, the PFAS is still existent. It has just been transferred to a membrane, resin, or PFAS-rich sludge, and must now be treated further.

TRANSFORMATION through oxidation or biodegradation is another treatment option. When oxidized, the carbon-carbon or carbon-oxygen bonds in PFAS are more easily broken than the persistent carbon-fluorine bond. Breaking the carbon-carbon backbone of longer PFAS molecules without breaking the carbon-fluorine bonds simply creates a greater number shorter PFAS molecules. Biodegradation is similar; biodegradation pathways for PFAS precursors lead to PFAS species of regulatory concern. Even though these methods do have their positives, such as a lack of PFAS waste being generated, they are ultimately ineffective.

DISPOSAL in a landfill is another largely ineffective method for PFAS treatment. Many are landfilling PFAS waste from separation processes. However, due to the solubility and mobility of some PFAS molecules, PFAS can easily escape the landfills in leachate and be reintroduced to the environment.

DESTRUCTION using the extreme heat of incineration breaks the carbon-fluorine bonds characteristic of PFAS. Incineration is the only commercially available technology with the capacity to address the PFAS problem, avoid liability, minimize human health concerns, and abate the environmental persistence of PFAS. Destruction is Heritage’s only management method provided to customers with PFAS waste.

If you have any questions regarding PFAS or treatment options offered by Heritage Environmental Services, please reach out to your account representative, or contact Angie Martin at angie.martin@heritage-enviro.com.

Zero Waste to Landfill

Eliminating the Waste Sent to Landfills Every Day

Amid sustainability discussions, the topic of a circular economy and even a “zero waste economy” occur frequently. Yet business waste is still transported into this country’s more than two thousand active landfills daily. Have you ever stopped to ponder ways to reduce what we throw away – personally or in your business? Is there a way that we can change our habits to minimize the trash sent to landfills? Industry leaders in environmental sustainability know that there are many options to reduce, reuse, and recycle the things we simply throw in the trash and to send Zero Waste to Landfills.

Benefits of Zero Waste to Landfill

You may ask yourself, “How would it benefit my business to eliminate or reduce waste sent to landfills?” By reducing waste and increasing recycling, the benefits to the environment and your company’s financial statements will probably outweigh the costs. First off, it could save your business money. Reduced waste and increased recycling can mean reduced disposal costs and increased revenues. A second benefit is meeting customer expectations for responsible manufacturing and improved life cycle assessments. Another benefit is that the process of reviewing your waste creation may identify ways to improve your manufacturing process. These efficiencies could be conserving human or supply resources, and conserving energy. Your business will be seen by investors, customers and competitors as industry leaders in environmental responsibility.

Steps to Become Zero Landfill

  1. Select a waste management team. These individuals will look over your current situation, determine your goals and develop an implementation plan. The right team should be committed to the goal of sending zero facility waste to a landfill. This can be an internal team or include help from an outside organization.
  2. Assess the current waste management and disposal methods of your company. By conducting a waste audit, you will receive an in-depth analysis of the company’s waste generation/management and disposal covering a certain period of time.
  3. Develop waste reduction and elimination strategies. After setting your goals, implement a plan to achieve short and longer term steps. Strategies can include looking at landfill alternatives like converting waste to energy (e.g. converting waste to fuels via certain incinerators or other outlets) or reusing resources through a recycling center or specialty outlets. To reduce your carbon footprint, you may need to look at your packaging and even consider the redesign of process flow and equipment.
  4. Engage employees. To reach zero waste to landfill, you need the help and cooperation of your employees. Raising awareness and providing training to your employees ensures that everyone is on the same page.

How Heritage Can Help

Every business generates waste and much of that waste can be considered by-products that still have value. By reducing, reusing, or recycling those byproducts, your company can save money or even create a new revenue stream. Heritage works with companies to attain their sustainable goals by building customized programs to reduce waste generation, improve recycling rates, and achieve Zero Waste to Landfill. Having a diverse industrial and commercial expertise, Heritage has the ability to adapt to changing environmental standards and definitions. Heritage embraces broad goals so when one goal is achieved, they can begin the process of reaching the next. We have a world class research and development team that has shown significant success in finding ways to turn waste into new products. Heritage takes pride in being a preferred partner in the process and helping 175 sites to achieve zero landfill status. Are you ready to take that next step to bettering your business and the environment? Contact Heritage today to get started.