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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - Harden Furniture

Harden Furniture, Inc., McConnellsville


Harden Furniture, Inc., located in McConnellsville, employs 430 people manufacturing high quality solid hardwood furniture for distribution to a worldwide market. Finishing operations involved in manufacturing this furniture use a multi-step process requiring application of different coats of stains and lacquers. One particular step in the finishing process requires that a wiping stain be applied to the wood and subsequently wiped off with a rag. The spent rag was classified as a hazardous waste. Harden switched from a disposable rag to a washable and reusable rag. In doing this, Harden implemented a manufacturing process whereby hazardous waste from the contaminated rags and the methanol were eliminated from the waste stream.

Methodologies and Procedures

Finishing operations required a multi-step process where different coats of stain and lacquer were applied. One of these processes required that wiping stain, a mixture of organic pigments, linseed oil and volatile organic compounds, be applied to the wood and subsequently wiped off with a rag. This particular process generated a large quantity of rags that were classified as a (ignitable) hazardous waste. Until 1994, disposable rags were used in this process. To store the rags safely, they were submerged in methanol, but this added to the volume of waste to be disposed.

In 1994, Harden Furniture embarked on a cooperative effort with its employees, NYSDEC Region 6, Lilly Industrial coatings and Coyne Textiles to find a replacement for the Aone use@ disposable rags. Employees worked with Coyne Textile to find a rag durable enough to withstand repeated washing but yet soft and absorbent enough to still provide a high quality finish. Lilly Industrial Coatings worked with Harden employees to determine the specific components responsible for spontaneous combustion and then reformulated wiping stains to minimize the fire hazard. Throughout this process, NYSDEC's Region 6 staff were consulted to verify that the final program would be in compliance with appropriate regulations.

This project resulted in finishing materials that were no longer prone to spontaneous combustion. With that hazard removed, rags could be handled safely without need for submergence in methanol. This enabled the rags to be stored and shipped in a dry state, and made laundering and reuse a feasible option.


Use of methanol, a highly toxic substance, was eliminated, reducing health risks of workers and releases to the environment.

During 1993, prior to implementation of this program, 528 drums of hazardous waste were manifested off site for disposal. In 1995, after the program was fully implemented, only 120 drums were manifested off site, a 76 percent reduction in hazardous waste generated.

Total hazardous waste disposal costs were reduced from $158,796 in 1993 to $36,206 in 1995, a 77 percent reduction.

Harden estimates annual savings of more than $140,000 from this project as a result of reduced expenditures for materials and supplies.

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

This page was last modified March 8, 1999

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