Thursday, September 2, 2010

Part II: Analyzing the Environmental Impact of Different Waste Management Methods: Incineration and Crushing

Incineration is a waste treatment technology that involves the combustion of organic materials or substances.(1) Also known as "thermal treatment", incineration of waste materials converts the waste into incinerator bottom ash, flue gases, particulates and heat. In the past, many municipal waste combustors did not have special controls to reduce mercury emissions. The incineration of mercury-containing lamps, therefore, released up to 90% of the mercury to the air.(2) By the end of 2000, most incinerators were equipped with more stringent EPA-mandated mercury controls, dramatically reducing the amount of mercury that incinerators release from any mercury-containing product. According to the EPA, mercury emissions from municipal solid waste combustors declined from 42 tons of mercury in 1990 to 2 tons in 2001.(3) However, this amount of mercury release can be further reduced by recycling used fluorescent lamps.

Crushing lamps prior to transportation reduces the volume of waste, while utilizing mercury filters and other technology to limit mercury emissions. Crushing can significantly reduce transportation and storage costs for generators. However, the efficacy of lamp crushers is debated, and the practice has been banned by many state pollution control agencies.

Other recycling options, such as the services offered by Mercury Waste Solutions, should be applied to mercury-containing lamps to safely and effectively remove the mercury vapor. Their patented continuous flow retort oven has been designed to process up to 1,000 lbs per hour of flowable mercury-contaminated powders and other solids—effectively recovering mercury from contaminated products and reducing mercury pollution.

1. Knox, Andrew (February 2005). "An Overview of Incineration and EFW Technology as Applied to the Management of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)" (PDF). University of Western Ontario.
2. “Lamp Industry Product Stewardship: A Record of Accomplishment,” NEMA Lamp Section, October 2004.
3. “Emissions from Large MWC Units at MACT Compliance,” Memorandum from Walt Stevenson, Combustion Group, UAQPS, EPA, June 20, 2002

Brad Buscher
Chairman and CEO
VaporLok Products LLC

No comments:

Post a Comment