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Beverage Company: Disposal of Hazardous Solid Waste

Provided by IFC Sustainable Business Advisory


Beverage Company, South India

Case

A beverage company in South India generates more than 1000 tons of sludge from its wastewater treatment plant every year, which requires proper disposal. For years, the beverage company officials claimed that this sludge is a good fertilizer and made it avail­able to the local farmers free of cost. After many years of use of this sludge as fertilizer, the local farmers have claimed that the land and water in the region is contaminated with toxic chemicals and the crop quality and yield have been severely affected. Soil and water samples from the surrounding region sent for testing by some NGOs and media represen­tatives were found to be contaminated with high levels of cadmium, lead, chlorides and other toxic chemicals.

Impact

  • Land contamination
  • Groundwater contamination and surface water contamination through run-offs
  • Stakeholder concerns and disputes with local communities

Avoid

  • Sample and analyse wastewater streams to identify the sources of pollution
  • Provide bins for separate collection of all non-process waste (chemicals, detergents, used/waste oil, batteries, etc.) and dispose off site; do not let hazardous waste enter the waste­water stream
  • Investigate, prevent and substitute all chemicals, detergents and paints from the beverage bottles that may be responsible for leaching heavy metals into the wastewater streams
  • Segregate, collect and treat wastewater streams from bottle-washing plant separately and send the ETP sludge to hazardous waste disposal facility
  • Stop distribution of sludge to local communities and send all sludge/solid waste to a haz­ardous waste disposal site if needed

Minimize

  • Minimize sludge generation in wastewater treatment by pretreatment of wastewater (e.g. filtration) and treatment chemical substitution
  • Provide training to employees on regulatory requirements and waste handling including identification and disposal of hazardous waste

Offset

  • Engage with affected stakeholders/community members and asses the level of impact on them due to the use/exposure to toxic and hazardous waste (sludge)
  • Identify the extent of the problem; analyze the concentration of cadmium and lead in soil samples and compare to the background concentration levels of these elements in the area
  • Consider initiating or supporting the remediation of contaminated sites remediation with the help of regulators and/or competent agencies

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