What are AGP’s waste management policies, and how were these strategies devised?
Al Gurg Paints’ (AGP) waste management strategies are devised and based on four categories, the first of which is federal rules. We follow guidelines provided by Sharjah Municipality for paint manufacturing industries operating in the emirate.
Secondly, we divide operations based on process; waste streams are segregated as hazardous and non-hazardous wastes and stored separately. Hazardous raw materials are substituted by non-hazardous ones during manufacturing. Raw materials are purchased in bulk containers – IBCs and tankers – to reduce the generation of waste. A separate cold storage facility is in operation for low boiling point solvents. Mechanical wipers are used in thixotropic paint manufacturing tanks to reduce sticking losses.
Moreover, high pressure washing systems are used for cleaning work to reduce the generation of hazardous wash water, and production is scheduled in a manner that minimises the need for cleaning. Tanks and equipment are cleaned immediately to avoid drying and reduce waste, and dedicated equipment is used for specific products. We use pigments in paste form instead of dry powders to effect a reduction of dust waste.
What is the role of recycling in your waste management operations?
Recycling is the third fundamental based on which our operations are carried out. We have opted for the use of the counter-current rinsing sequence, wherein dirty solvent is initially used for cleaning the tank and later, the clean solvent is used to rinse off the dirty solution from the tank.
Waste solvent generated from cleaning activities is managed in-house by reclaiming the solvent through a recovery unit. Close to 600 barrels have so far been recovered and reused for production. Wooden waste is reduced by not purchasing any new pallets and repairing and reusing those received from raw material suppliers. Paper waste is reduced by using the back side of printed papers for non-confidential documents, and empty solvent and plastic barrels are recycled for storage of solvents and intermediates.
Cans and containers are reused for pre-batching of raw materials, and barrels and containers are sold to reconditioning units for recycling. The final factor that determines our operation is training; periodic sessions are held with operators to help them understand waste management and reduction techniques.
How much of the waste generated at AGP is recycled?
Up to 80% of the solvent-based waste generated from cleaning activities is recycled in-house by AGP. Obsolete products or customer returns are blended into new products.
Does ESAG manage the paints division’s waste in-house or is the work outsourced to a specialist operator?
The disposal of general recyclable waste is outsourced to Sharjah Municipality-approved companies, such as Averda, Al Ghadeer Waste Management Company, and Bee’ah, with their contracts being renewed every year. Wastewater generated from cleaning activities is tested and approved by Sharjah Municipality’s EPS [Environment Protection Section] lab and taken to a municipality-approved treatment facility by authorised transporters Dulsco. This contract is also renewed annually.
What are AGP’s future waste management plans?
We are currently studying the feasibility of setting up a treatment unit for in-house recycling of wastewater generated from cleaning activities, which form the major portion of our hazardous wastes. Other competitors are currently disposing the same at municipality landfill sites. We are considering the application of a new technology – non-stick coatings – for tank surfaces to reduce sticking and better handle waste. The trials for the same are currently ongoing at the [tank supplier’s] facility.