The Cleaner Production Hierarchy is a good tool to help think about Cleaner Production options in your operation and to focus on eliminating or reducing waste at source. In adopting a Cleaner Production philosophy, try to consider how wastes are created rather than how they can be treated.

Typically, strategies higher up the hierarchy are more cost effective.

1. Eliminate
Eliminating the need to use materials particularly harmful products can greatly reduce operating costs and reduce the potential harm to the environment.

2. Reduce
The next step is to minimise the use of all materials in the process. This can include reducing errors in batch preparation, optimising cleaning operations to reduce the volume of water used and turning off equipment that is not in use.

3. Reuse
There are many opportunities to reuse ‘waste products’ in the industry. This will reduce the demand for raw materials and the cost of treatment and disposal.

4. Recycle
Are the wastes identified by your assessment really ‘wastes’? Can some of these be reclaimed through simple treatment processes that enable them to be recycled on-site? Other by-products that cannot be used on site may be recycled off-site.

5. Treat and Dispose
This option should only be considered after the other options have been exhausted. Generally these options are typically a cost to industry. However, it may be essential to consider this as a part of your overall Cleaner Production strategy. The costs of treatment can be minimised by focusing on the previous options.

Reference: Cleaner Production Manual for the Queensland Foundry Industry,November 1999

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