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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - Schenectady International

Schenectady International, Inc., Schenectady, NY

Background

Schenectady International, Inc. (SII) is a global manufacturer of chemical intermediates that are used in the plastics, automotive and electronics industries. The New York operations in Rotterdam Junction produce much of the domestic demand for resins used in tire and adhesive manufacture, as well as a significant part of the market for carbonless copy paper, brake linings, and electronic materials. A privately held family company, SII employs 2,400 employees globally and approximately 400 locally, of which approximately 215 work at Rotterdam Junction.

Methodologies and Procedures

In late 1999, Schenectady International began a special initiative to reduce hazardous waste and its associated disposal to gain environmental benefits, and potentially, economic value. During a review of then current-practices, it was determined that the on-site Hazardous Liquid Waste Incinerator was not an efficient method for handling the liquid waste. Further review was undertaken to determine the best methods for handling the liquid waste streams and to replace on-site incineration. This review resulted in a multi-faceted program that evolved into several significant waste reduction opportunities and a new raw material closed-loop reuse system.

Until the liquid waste incinerator was shut down at the end of December 2002, liquid waste was collected in a common system for both hazardous and non-hazardous wastes, and then separated into solvent and water-based streams. These streams were then thermally destroyed on-site in a permitted incinerator. Although permitted by DEC, the incinerator was shut down on the basis of improvements to the environment and potential economic savings.

The company's initiative addressed a number of waste reduction recovery opportunities and proposed segregating hazardous wastes from non-hazardous wastes in order to reduce the quantity of hazardous waste generated and to allow for its reuse.

The recovery opportunities began by investigating ways to reuse solvent. This led to complete removal of hazardous solvent from the process. Eliminating solvent has had a number of benefits: a simple phenol recycle stream; the elimination of hazardous waste associated with burning the solvent and phenol in the liquid waste incinerator; and reduced air emissions. After studying the concept and determining that it was feasible, the solvent-free process was started in January 2002. Hazardous waste was reduced substantially in 2002, with the complete elimination (100 percent reduction) of this waste.

Waste segregation and phenol reclamation

With the elimination of solvent in the waste from phenolic resin manufacturing, it is possible to segregate this stream from hazardous wastes. Once segregated, it is processed to recover phenol.

Phenol is removed from this stream by chilling it, allowing two layers to form and decanting (draining away) the lower heavier layer. This layer contains about 70 percent phenol and 30 percent water. This phenol-rich material is then reused to make product, instead of disposing of it. The remaining layer, containing about 6 percent phenol and 94 percent water, can then be disposed of as a non-hazardous waste. This operation allows for the recovery of about 60 percent of the phenol available in distillate. Hazardous waste is expected to further increase by 2004 and, continually thereafter because of the reclamation and reuse of phenol.

The remaining layer which contains 6 percent phenol, contains enough phenol to justify further recovery. SII has undertaken a capital improvement project to install distillation and additional recovery equipment to reduce the phenol content in the stream to less than 1 percent. This program, implemented in April 2003, allows for disposal in a permitted, on-site wastewater treatment plant. The total hazardous waste reduction associated with these improvements is expected to exceed 4,000 tons in 2004, and each year thereafter.

Benefits

  • 586 tons of phenol (a critical raw material) were recovered and reused, resulting in savings of $325,000.
  • 229 tons of flammable solvent were eliminated from the process, resulting in savings of $83,000.
  • 815 tons of hazardous waste were prevented.
  • $125,000 in hazardous waste disposal costs were avoided.
  • Hazardous waste transportation was reduced.
  • Total savings to SII equaled $ 533,000 in.

Any comments or questions?
Contact us at: 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1750;
518-402-9469 (phone); 518-402-9168 (fax)


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