From Clean Technology to Clear Profit

The Philippines has for the past decade made deliberate steps towards industrialization. From a primarily agricultural economy, it bolstered its industrial and manufacturing capability through the infusion of foreign investment and technology. This is manifested by the establishment of industrial and trade zones located in strategic areas of the country.

Industrial zones such as the Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (CALABARZON) area, Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Quezon (Marilaque) Trade Zone, and Central Luzon Development Program (CLDP), to name a few, serve as the hubs of industries in the archipelago’s effort in becoming a newly-industrialized country. As in other countries, the Philippines consequently faces the challenge which comes with industrialization-environmental pollution.

Like other experiences worldwide, the country’s response to environmental degradation follows the same pattern: ignore, dilute, control and prevent. In the past, effluents and emissions discharged into the air, waterways, ground water and land are given end-of-pipe treatment which entails higher costs, translating as a financial burden to industries. End-of-pipe treatment of waste matter was traditionally exercised by most manufacturing firms in the country. This is characterized by the collection of waste material, and applying treatments such as dilution, detoxification, solidifying them, and in many cases, containing the pollutants in barrels and placing them in landfills. These treatments entail high costs for technology and equipment, and in the case of landfills, do not guarantee safety due to the potential for leakages in the barrels resulting to leaching into the ground water. A better alternative to end-of-pipe treatment is pollution prevention, considered today as the primary and best recourse in halting environmental degradation.

The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) publication, “Industrial Pollution Prevention,” defines pollution prevention as, “the maximum feasible reduction of all pollutants generated at production sites.” The book further describes the approach as “a method of multimedia pollution control and management that focuses in reducing the generation and discharge of pollutants (gaseous, liquid and solid) at their sources to avoid subsequent handling, treatment and disposal.” Through pollution prevention, industries are encouraged to minimize the generation of pollutants or recycle them during manufacturing or on-site, rather than allow their disposal into the environment.

ADB also states that pollution prevention has the highest priority assignation followed by recycling and reuse, effluent and emission treatment and, lastly, containment in barrels and landfills which is considered the least desirable manner by which waste materials may be handled. In the publication “Cleaner Production in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Region,” the label used is “cleaner production.” For processes, cleaner production includes “conserving raw materials and energy, elimination of toxic raw materials, and reducing the quantity and toxicity of all emissions and wastes before they leave a process”. Its application to products is described as “reducing impacts along the entire life cycle of the product, from raw material extraction to disposal.

Generally, there are two ways by which pollution prevention or clean production can be undertaken: source reduction, and recycling and reuse.

Source Reduction
Most waste materials enter a waste stream or the environment after they leave the production site, prior to end-of-pipe treatment. Source reduction calls for minimizing if not eliminating the quantity or the toxicity of waste materials before they enter the environment or waste streams. There are two ways by which source reduction can be implemented: product changes and process changes.

Product changes
Product changes are usually performed by the manufacturer in which the composition and use of an intermediate or end- product are modified or altered with the aim of reducing the generation of waste material. For example, machinery and equipment may be regularly maintained to decrease the need for frequent parts replacement. A manufacturer can develop a product which has longer shelf-life or lasts longer when in use compared to its conventional counterparts, thus reducing need for frequent replacement or replenishment of the product itself.

Product composition may also be changed, with the use of less hazardous or toxic raw and intermediate materials in production. For example, using organic pigments instead of heavy metal pigments in paint production reduces the hazardous nature of the end product.

Process changes
This approach focuses on how products are made. They include changes in the use of input materials, changes in technology utilized for production, and improvements on operations and operating practices. Its benefits include reduction of worker exposure to pollutants and hazardous materials. Compared to product changes, process changes can be adopted more quickly and require less cost. This approach builds on existing facilities and processes, improving on what already exists and does not entail a major disruption in operations. Its relatively less expensive nature also makes manufacturers more receptive to their adoption and implementation.

Input material changes are used to reduce the quantity and level of toxicity of hazardous waste found in raw materials and other materials which are not components of a product but are necessary in its production. Materials can be substituted with more environment-friendly components, or materials with higher purity may be used to minimize or totally eliminate waste by-products.

Technology changes deal with the modification of existing technology employed in the manufacture of a product. This approach is considered as one of the most effective ways of preventing pollution. Technology change can be achieved through modification of the process, operational adjustments, equipment modification, and improvements in automation.

A manufacturer can also improve operating procedures. Modifications and improvements can be done in the way materials are handled and stored, scheduling, and spill and leak prevention.

Energy, as a primary requisite in production, must be properly utilized and conserved. Energy conservation redounds to savings and profits for the manufacturer. Energy used in industry is often generated by using processes that consume raw materials and produce waste. Any action that conserves energy will reduce the quantity of pollutants. The reduction of pollutants will bring down expenditure for waste handling and treatment.

The Philippines is likewise doing its share in protecting the environment through clean production and pollution prevention by using advocacy and encouraging the adoption of clean technologies. At the forefront in this effort is the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) which carries the Integrated Program on Cleaner Production Technologies (IPCT) through the department’s Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI). IPCT follows the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) definition of cleaner production which is “the continuous application of an integrated preventive environmental strategy applied to processes, products and services to increase eco-efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment.” According to Engr. Reynaldo L. Esguerra, IPCT Program Coordinator, Philippine industries will benefit by using clean production technologies through “increased profitability, compliance with government regulations and subsequently protection of the environment, enhancement of the company’s image of responsibility to the community, the integration of environmental management systems in business, and access to available cleaner production technologies presented on various media forms.”

Esguerra noted that at present, the concept of clean production technology has not been widely accepted worldwide, though the benefits to industries are by far greater than end-of-pipe solutions, both environmentally and business-wise. He graphically contrasts end-of-pipe solutions with clean technology as follows: “Imagine a factory emitting pollutants into the air through a smokestack. A water scrub will be used to capture the pollutants, but these would only be transferred into the water which becomes contaminated. Thus, the water is then treated to address its pollution, but the pollutants still remain having been transformed into sludge after treatment. The sludge can then leach into the groundwater during heavy rainfall. The pollutants are still there and only change in media occur.” He further adds, “with clean technology, industries produce less pollutants, thus spending less for their treatment. They also use less or are more efficient in the use of raw material making their operations more efficient, or are able to produce more products given the same amount of raw material. Less energy is required or energy is more efficiently used requiring less cost for its generation.”

He also noted that IPCT continuously reviews and selects clean technologies from other countries for adoption to the Philippine industrial setting. Success stories abound for Philippine-based firms which have adopted clean technology. More industries are beginning to explore the possibilities of this new approach towards industrial productivity.

For the textile industry, Saffron Philippines, Inc. provides a shining example. According to CP Tech Transfer, the regular publication of IPCT, the company is a commission dyer of pure cotton, pure polyester, and blends of cotton and polyester woven and knitted fabrics. It has a monthly production of 500,000 kg of fabric. Through the use of clean technology such as investment in short liquor dyeing machines, reduction of chemicals and water usage, proper segregation of wastewater streams based on load, among others, the company was able to reduce its water consumption by 15 percent, with the direct result of reducing its waste water by 15 percent. It was able to reduce chemical consumption by 3-9 percent, caustic soda reduction by 3 percent, and reduction of the dyeing cycle by 10-15 percent or saving from 30 minutes to one hour. Furthermore, effluents are consistently meeting the standard and chemicals used for treatment have been greatly reduced by 34 percent.

Also cited in the publication were other technologies appropriate for the textile industry. Low bath ratio dyeing can be adopted to reduce water, steam and chemical consumption in textile dyeing. Bath Ratio is the ratio of the mass of the dye bath to the mass of the goods in the dyeing machine. Low bath ratio dyeing uses less water than that used in conventional dyeing processes. Jet and package dyeing machines have the capability of low bath ratio dyeing and rapid dyeing to reduce the operating cost and increase productivity.

Effluent-free printing can be achieved through transfer printing, which is currently the newest and fastest method. This technique prints the dispersed dye initially on a paper substrate. The paper is placed in contact with a synthetic fabric under high pressure and temperature. The solid dyes vaporize and deposit themselves onto the cloth in the exact pattern printed on the paper. This process can be performed at high speeds because the cloth rapidly absorbs the dye. In contrast with conventional printing methods, transfer printing only deposits the dyestuff on the fiber. No other chemicals are used in the process.

In manufacturing which is a major industry sector in the country, new technologies were developed to improve appliances. The use of hydrocarbon refrigerants prolong the useful life and improve the energy efficiency of refrigeration and air conditioning systems (RACs). They also reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances. RACs can be designed to use hydrocarbons as working fluids, or they can be retrofitted to use hydrocarbons. Because of their relatively low density, hydrocarbons put less load on the compressor and makes the system more energy efficient and last longer. Hydrocarbons are drop-in substitutes for chemical refrigerants. No changing of components like lubricating oil and filter drier is necessary. They are natural compounds and generally cost less than chemical refrigerants.

Another large segment of industry is engaged in the production of microchip and printed circuit boards (PCB). The production of PCB entails the depositing through electricity of a tin/lead alloy onto the copper circuit. This alloy serves as a coating which protects the copper circuit during the etching process. Applied using a bath, it contains 30 percent toxic lead metal and fluoroborate-based waste which are difficult to treat. A solution to eliminate toxic lead and fluoroborate-based waste is by substituting the tin/lead alloy with a coating of pure tin with a sulphate-based plating. This substitution eliminates the lead and fluoroborate-based materials from the waste water, which thus becomes easier to treat. This new technology does not adversely affect the product in any way. This substitution of raw material results in low initial investment, simplification of waste water treatment, reduction of water treatment costs, and does not affect other manufacturing processes.

The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) documented the success of Polytech, a family-owned corporation which produces kerosene, cooking stoves and ironing boards. The company typifies many of the country’s industrial plants. Its management is now giving emphasis on the health of its workers and the environment. To this end, its General Manager Danny Ong pledges “to promote waste minimization by optimizing use of energy and materials and reducing all types of waste.” Polytech was able to make good this pledge by properly laying out and installing machinery in its electroplating plant. The new plant layout gave emphasis on “ease of movement, systematic workflow, more practical ways of doing, and generally, a better work environment.” This resulted in a P10,000 monthly savings on chemicals and significant reduction in pollution load. The company also installed P80,000 worth of spray booth ventilation system which gives back P3,000 worth of savings monthly on paint purchase. This investment had a payback period of two years. This improvement gave improved material recovery and reuse, aside from increased paint transfer efficiency and drag-out recovery.

Being primarily agricultural, the Philippines still plays host to large firms engaged in agribusiness. As one of the major exporters of coconut products in the world, the adoption of creative technologies in combination with sound housekeeping has redounded to profits and savings for many companies. Peter Paul produces desiccated coconut (DCN) in its 13-hectare facility in Candelaria, Quezon. It employs 1,700 people and produces 22,000 tons of DCN annually. Previously, the company generates 80,000 liters of coconut water daily. When it entered into a joint venture coconut water was recovered and recycled. Collected coconut water is frozen and processed as a refreshment drink by the Chai Meei plant, also located in the Philippines. The juice drink is then shipped to Taiwan and sold commercially. Around 40,000 liters of coconut water is required daily by Chai Meei from Peter Paul. This approach enabled Peter Paul to save 10 percent (around $3,700 annually) from its usual expenditure for the operation of its water treatment facility. The estimated biochemical oxygen demand level of wastewater was also reduced by 50 percent. The two companies both benefit from what were formerly waste materials. The venture also resulted in more carefully pared whole coconuts, thus increasing DCN weight by 13.6 kilograms for every ton. Overall, Peter Paul saves an estimated $370,000 annually by adopting clean technology.

Franklin Baker is also a desiccated coconut (DCN) company with its Davao plant starting operation in 1968, processing 240 metric tons of coconut per day. It has 1,171 employees working in three eight-hour shifts, from six to seven days a week depending on the supply of coconut. The company volunteered its plant to undergo a pollution management appraisal (PMA). The results of the PMA motivated Franklin Baker to restructure its Cost Effectiveness Program (CEP) to include waste minimization.

By monitoring and repair of leaking pipes, valves and faucets, coupled with a comprehensive information campaign on water conservation, the company was able to save P53,000 per year. They also reduced waste water generation saving 32,110 cubic meters, and water usage reduced by 40,144 cubic meters by replacing pipes, valves and faucets with a total cost of only P7,200. The payback period for this innovation was a short 49 days.

Another DCN factory is Ludesco, which shreds and dries coconut meat used in food products. It invested P160,000 and in the process saved P2,500,000 in raw materials, saved P1,000,000 in energy use, recovered P500,000 worth of by-products, and all within a payback period of 15 days. All these were achieved through the installation of a new conveyor system which helped track spillage. The company also began maximizing the use of coconut oil by-product by making in-house cleaning soap. Manpower use was also maximized by reducing the six-shift weekly cleaning to four shifts. In the words of its production superintendent, Ed Gallardo, “Efficient utilization of raw materials or waste reduction at the source increases productivity”.

Del Monte, Philippines, is one of the largest producers of processed pineapple in the country. It produces an average of 1,459 tons of canned pineapple per day and employs more than 3,800 people. The company introduced collection pans in the fruit preparation and trimming tables. The pans collected fruit drops and juice drips. Using this simple technology, juice savings amounted to 15 liters an hour. This addressed workers’ concern that the juice is acidic and adversely affect their skin and clothes. The company invested $17,800 and enjoys $24,000 in annual savings. Del Monte also implemented improved monitoring and supervision which recovers more than 60 kilograms of lost pineapples. This addition translates to another $24,000 in savings per year.

Effluents in swine production can be converted into energy and fertilizer. Charles I.F.E., a family-owned Australian company proved this. Although biogas technology and organic fertilizer production technologies have been around for the past four decades, new improvements and improved creative approaches continue to arise. The new technology involves an automatic flushing system that removes effluents from the pig shed, a grit removal machine, a high-rate dissolved air flotation unit to concentrate the solids and produce biogas, a cogeneration plant to produce electricity and hot water, and the development of an organic soil conditioner. Charles I.F.E.’s 1,200 head swine farm can produce 210,000 liters of slurry (fecal waste, urine, water, undigested feed) with 1.7 percent organic solid content. Through anaerobic digestion in which waste is broken down by bacteria, biogas and an odorless soil conditioner are produced.

Through this anaerobic process, savings of up to 70 percent in water consumption can be achieved since recycling is possible using the high rate dissolved air flotation unit. Around 1,700 cubic meters of biogas can also be produced which can be converted to 3,840 kWh of electricity per day or 28,800 megajoules per day of hot water. The process also produces four tons of humus solids per day which the farm uses to increase its crop yields. It is also used to produce a fertilizer called Perma Fert. The process eliminated the odor that neighbors complained about, reduced flies and rodents and translates to an annual savings of Aus$397,500 per year.

Odors such as those produced by feedstock storages and animal farms can be reduced by the washdown of concrete surfaces, pavement of dirt roads, proper maintenance of sewer systems, and avoiding packed silos and bins. Washed down waste and spillage must undergo treatment to conserve water, energy and convert materials into recycled by-products.

Distilleries in the country are looking into a new fermentation process that can save water and energy, thus reducing production costs. Water and energy can be saved using concentrated ingredient fermentation instead of the conventional fermentation process traditionally used by distilleries. Concentrated ingredient fermentation increases sugar concentration and alcohol level thus reducing the volume required for water energy and distiller’s grain. It results to reduction of waste of distiller’s grain and water, less consumption of water and energy, elimination of spoilage of raw materials, and simplification of the production process.

The chemical fertilizer industry generates pollutants that usually are expended into the air. Firms may reduce pollutants by using scrubbers to loosen particulates and bag houses for catchment and containment. Improved exhaust systems will also reduce worker exposure to hazardous materials. Cement plants usually undertake quarrying activities such crushing and conveying. Particles can be contained using modified mechanical collectors that have the ability to contain particles (dust). Local exhaust systems should also be used when grinding materials into finer particles to reduce dust exposure of machine operators and workers. Paint and resin manufacturers can use improved exhaust systems with scrubbers and fume burners to prevent substances like acrolein, aldehydes and fatty acids from mixing with the environment. These equipment are also used in addressing pollutants from solvent thinning processes such as in paint and varnish manufacturing.

The necessity of clean technology is not only timely but imperative. These new technologies take into consideration both the interest of industry to become economically efficient and profitable on the one hand, and the demand to protect the environment from pollution and degradation. Clean technology need not be expensive as proven by examples cited. It need not be highly technical. But it takes more than money and know-how to apply clean technology. It takes sincere determination to take part in what little way we can to save the environment and make this planet a cleaner, safer, better, more prosperous place for everyone to live in.

By: Andre Santillan