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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics

Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc., Rochester, NY

Background

Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc. (OCD), an operating company of Johnson & Johnson, employs approximately 1,000 people at several locations in the Rochester area. OCD is a manufacturer of diagnostic clinical chemistry analyzers for in-vitro testing of biological fluids at professional laboratories, hospitals and physicians' offices. The analyzers use small disposable slides containing thin reagent and registration layers for precise and reliable testing of basic biological chemistries, electrolytes, enzymes, and lipids.

Methodologies and Procedures

The manufacturing process associated with the production of the clinical chemistry slides used in the OCD family of analyzers involves the following steps:
- Blending of chemicals into specialized solutions
- Coating of these solutions onto a polyester substrate
- Drying the coated material, then slitting into narrow chemistry strips
- Chopping these strips into small chip-size pieces for mounting in a finished slide

Proper blending, coating, and drying of these specialized solutions requires the use of a number of flammable organic solvents. The wastes created as a result of these processes, therefore, are classified as RCRA hazardous. In addition, a number of air emission point sources are associated with this process. In 1997, the total amount of hazardous waste generated from the manufacture of these slides was in excess of 780,000 pounds. In an effort to reduce the quantity of hazardous waste and air emissions, decrease costs, and increase production efficiency, a major project to reduce the physical size of the product (the small chemistry chip) was initiated.

This project, undertaken in two phases, was initiated in 1997. It involved an initial phase of a 29 percent reduction in the overall size of the clinical chemistry chip mounted within the finished slide, followed by a second phase initiated in 1999 to reduce the chip size an additional 30 percent. To achieve these product size reductions, an entirely new state-of-the-art production machine was designed and built within 3,500 square feet of renovated manufacturing space, with associated drive, computer and HVAC equipment and controls. This machine is capable of producing narrower slits of the coated polyester substrate, increasing their number from the original 20 to 26 during Phase 1 of the project, and from 26 slits to 32 slits during Phase 2. Therefore, the same amount of final product could be produced using significantly less raw material and with correspondingly less waste and lower air emissions.

The new slitting equipment incorporates state-of-the-art computer and drive technology providing more reliable operation with less maintenance than the previous equipment. The new equipment is more efficient and reliable than the equipment it was designed to replace, resulting in less waste regardless of the increased output. In addition, the equipment incorporates total "zero-access guarding" to improve safety, by eliminating any possible employee access to physical hazards during machine operation.

Benefits

Hazardous waste reductions on the order of 55,000 pounds were achieved during the first year of partial implementation in 1998. In 1999, the total project impact on hazardous waste reduction was more than 100,000 pounds annually. Upon full implementation by the end of 2001, the overall effect of the project will result in hazardous waste reductions in excess of 200,000 pounds annually.

Solvent raw material usage has been reduced by 39,000 pounds per year through 1999 and an estimated 60,000 pounds per year by year end 2001.

Point source emissions have been correspondingly reduced by approximately 2,000 pounds per year through 1999 and an estimated 3,000 pounds per year by full implementation.

Non-hazardous waste volume is estimated to be reduced by over 30 percent annually upon full implementation.

Waste handling and transportation has been correspondingly reduced, lessening overall personnel exposure and risk potentials. Since incineration of hazardous waste, landfilling of non-hazardous waste and point source emissions to the air are all reduced, overall potential environmental and health impacts are also reduced.

The first phase of the program has resulted in an estimated savings of $4 million per year. The second phase of the project, currently in implementation, is estimated to reduce manufacturing costs an additional $3 million annually.


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