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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - Weber-Knapp Company

Weber-Knapp Company, Jamestown

Background

By segregating wastes and replacing a cleaning system, Weber - Knapp significantly reduced its generation of hazardous waste and eliminated trichloroethylene (TCE) in air emissions.

Weber-Knapp has been producing metal hardware in Jamestown since the early 1900s. Approximately 200 employees work at the plant doing electroplating, grinding, buffing, vibrating, degreasing and surface coating of steel and aluminum. Their finished metal hardware can be found in computer work stations, office furniture, home entertainment equipment and a variety of automotive products.

Beginning in 1992, DEC began to work with the Weber-Knapp Company to modify industrial operations and reduce the generation and emission of toxic and hazardous wastes. After conducting a multimedia pollution prevention inspection, DEC staff and the company successfully worked together, achieving significant reductions in two areas of the facility's operations.

Methodologies and Procedures

Wastes from the metal hardware production consist of sludges from the electroplating operation, which are hazardous, and the vibratory finishing process, which are non-hazardous. For years, Weber - Knapp combined the two sludges into one sludge mixture for disposal. The mixture, according to state and federal regulations, had to be managed as a hazardous waste. Following a DEC suggestion, the company began exploring ways to segregate and separately treat the sludges. By keeping the sludges unmixed, the non-hazardous sludge could be landfiilled as a solid waste, thus reducing Weber - Knapp's hazardous waste generation. Working with DEC, the company dealt with regulatory policy decisions, procedures and permits that eventually led to a feasible, cost-effective segregation and treatment process for the sludges. The segregation process was brought on-line in July 1993 and since that time, 50 percent of the sludge generated is disposed of as non-hazardous waste.

To clean metal parts, Weber - Knapp used a TCE vapor degreasing process, which released TCE to the air. The company found that the major requirement for vapor degreasing was to clean parts prior to powder coating (painting) operations. Powder coating, which the company started using years ago, is an electrostatic process that uses no solvents and releases no VOCs to the atmosphere. The growth of the company's product line and the company's commitment to reduce TCE emissions prompted Weber - Knapp to expand the plant's powder coating operations. New equipment included on-line cleaning and iron phosphating, reducing the necessity for TCE use and enabling the company to eliminate the degreaser. To complete the systems required to replace the degreaser, Weber Knapp constructed a cabinet spray washer for non-ferrous metals and automated an existing aqueous cleaning line.

Benefits

A yearly savings of $10,000 in disposal costs.

Eliminated potential TCE exposure from air emissions and accidental spills to employees, the community and the environment.

Preserved scarce landfill space by reducing the amount of hazardous waste requiring landfill disposal.

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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