Chemical manufacturing resource efficiency

Ten top tips for resource efficiency in chemical manufacturing


Chemical manufacturers can reduce waste and use raw materials and water more efficiently. These are some starting points to help you minimise resource use and optimise production:

  • Improve housekeeping - an untidy factory can lead to mistakes, poor attitudes, accidental damage, out-of-date material and waste.
  • Separate waste to reduce costs - cross-contaminating different wastes can lead to waste being disposed of at a higher cost than necessary.
  • Recover pump or filter contents and tank washings - in paint manufacturing, once a good system is set up for recovering surpluses it is possible to recover a further 5-20 kilograms of product per batch and reduce solvent used for pump washing at the same time.
  • Avoid over-ordering - businesses that make products to order tend to buy more materials than required for the job - even after allowing the standard amount for waste - better control of waste levels enables you to reduce stock wastage.
  • Store more liquids in bulk - material requirements can change, but buying and stocking policy often doesn't. This can result in slow-moving liquid materials occupying bulk tank capacity, while higher-volume items are bought in drums. To see if there is a problem, list liquid materials in order of consumption and compare the ten fastest-moving products in drums with the ten slowest-moving bulk products.
  • Schedule production - to minimise the need for vessel washing between production batches and reduce the wash frequency.
  • Recover or reuse vessel-washing liquors - this can significantly reduce effluent volumes and discharge costs, as well as product loss.
  • Reduce wastage from spills and surplus material - use automated filling methods and whole containers.
  • Prepare a mass balance - this involves identifying inputs such as raw materials and outputs such as products and waste - it is used to calculate where the greatest resource losses are occurring and thus the potential for improvement.
  • Operate and maintain equipment correctly - this is the only way to make real improvements in solvent performance and cost reductions are made only if staff operate and maintain the equipment correctly - using equipment efficiently also reduces energy use.

Using water efficiently can also reduce your costs and impact on the environment - see water use and efficiency in chemical manufacturing.