Balancing between wastewater disposal and recovery
Metal finishing comprises more individual wastewater discharges than any other industrial category. Typically, the pollutants contained in metal finishing process waters are potentially hazardous, so the wastewaters must be treated before being discharged to waterways or sent further to treatment facilities. Regulations in general require the oxidation of cyanides, the reduction of hexavalent chromium, the removal of heavy metals, and pH control.
The European Council Directive on hazardous waste, environmental laws and regulations as well national laws stipulate the framework for the decisions made by an individual metal treatment workshop. Still there are several options to choose from depending on the different treatment options available and the costs of these.
There are essentially four approaches that should be taken into consideration when evaluating the recovery potential in any given metal finishing operations. These include:
- operating savings
- avoidance of waste treatment capital costs
- improvement of manufacturing operations
- total avoidance of sludge strategies
There is often a large opportunity for plating industries to reduce their costs, minimise their environmental footprint and remain competitive in their sector by introducing various relatively simple and sometimes low-cost process changes.
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