How Flexible Packagers Find Environmental Savings in Solvent Waste
Proper monitoring of your solvent recycling equipment allows you to maximize the uptime and yield of your recycling operation while providing you with the transparency you’ve been lacking. With these tools you can find greater environmental efficiencies in your business.
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Keeping Score Of Your Environmental Goals
Are you looking for a groundbreaking innovation to meet your environmental goals? Or a green technology that could revolutionize the sustainability of your operation? Well, you aren’t going to find it here. In truth, I’d be willing to bet it doesn’t exist, and may never. No, it’s not as easy as that. In reality, meeting your sustainability goals is about finding incremental efficiencies and reducing waste in your current operation. Businesses all over the world are implementing incremental environmental changes such as installing LED lighting, energy efficient HVAC, or production processes that generate less waste. The cumulative effect of these changes is meaningful, and there are plenty of additional opportunities for continued improvements. One place you might not think to look but where there is often additional environmental value: your solvent recycling operation
The Flexible Packaging industry has long been a leader when it comes to recycling its waste solvent. Both onsite and offsite solvent recycling are common practices in almost every packaging facility in the United States. This is good news since solvent usage can have a major impact on manufacturing sustainability. In fact, according to a study by Carleton University a typical pound of solvent that isn’t recycled will have contributed up to 20 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions once incinerated. For an average Flexible Packaging facility this could mean 1250 tons of GHG a year, or the equivalent impact of 245 cars driven yearly. This demonstrates the importance of recycling your solvent waste as a means to improve sustainability.
But there is a problem: solvent recycling technology has been stuck in the past. In a world where all industries are leveraging the power of data and automation, solvent recycling offers very few solutions to better monitor and understand your recycling operation. Is your recycler maximizing yield? Are components starting to fail? Without proper data it is impossible to know the answer, and more importantly, it’s impossible to improve. Imagine driving your car but there is no speedometer, no fuel gauge, and no mileage indicator. Adding to the problem is the fact that solvent distillation equipment is not a primary part of the production process. Like an industrial chiller, it is often out of sight out of mind, until in a chiller’s case, it doesn’t do its job and affects your production equipment. Without proper monitoring you would never know if your solvent recycler is running consistently and efficiently, and you certainly don’t know your true environmental impact.
The ideal solution is to utilize a solvent recycling technology that provides you with data tracking or to implement external monitoring tools such as flow meters or scales. A proper scoreboard will provide you with critical metrics such as uptime, yield, GHG reduction, and waste reduction; all key data points that are essential to improving sustainability. A solvent recycling scoreboard can also show you trends over time so you can track the effectiveness of these improvements.
Increasing Uptime & Maximizing Yield
When it comes to reaching your sustainability goals, consistency is the key. You own an asset that reduces your waste and overall GHG emissions, but if it isn’t running, what good is that to you. That is why ensuring you maximize solvent recycler uptime is key. A variety of factors can negatively impact uptime including inattention from operators, a lack of feed material, full output receptacles, or maintenance issues. A proper solvent recycling monitoring system can not only track changes in uptime but alert you when there is a problem so it can be remedied immediately.
Yield is defined as the amount of clean solvent your recycler produces as a percentage of the solvent waste it is provided. Most solvent recyclers on the market claim to produce yields of 80-99%. An impressive number. The catch is that the majority of recyclers don’t monitor yield and have no way of letting you know if they are reaching these yield targets. Additionally, yield slips significantly as recycling equipment ages. Even a small percentage change in yield can have a large impact on the waste reduction associated with your recycling operation. Monitoring and optimizing your yield means buying less make-up solvent and sending less waste for disposal. Every gallon recycled matters to your operating and environmental goals.
Green Bragging Rights
The last benefit of utilizing a solvent recycling scoreboard is the one that is most satisfying. By tracking the uptime, yield, and output of your equipment, you can quantify the direct environmental impact your recycling operation has had. A typical modern solvent recycler, such as the AlwaysClean by CleanPlanet, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 3800 tons a year. That’s the equivalent of planting 57,000 trees. That’s no small amount, and something your organization and even your customers can be proud of.
Making a Change in Flexible Packaging
With consumers demanding environmentally sustainable products, facilities in the Flexible Packaging industry are looking for environmental efficiencies within their operations. Solvent recycling is already a step in the right direction but has plenty room for improvement. Proper monitoring of your equipment allows you to maximize the uptime and yield of your recycling operation while providing you with transparency that has been lacking. Leveraging this data to improve and optimize your recycling operation is an effective way of improving sustainability. The path to a greener future isn’t traveled with big technological leaps, but rather step by step with small, attainable changes.
Want to learn more about how to monitor your solvent recycler?
Want to learn more about how to monitor your solvent recycler?