Waste Industry is Coming Around
Mark Miller, SVP of Global Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives
While Las Vegas is not my favorite place, Waste Expo 2015 may have been my favorite show.
There was a significant amount of foot traffic with a high level of interest both domestically and internationally. Though the waste industry as a whole is conservative and slow to change - from a best practices perspective in chemical technologies, it is somewhat behind other industries we service - it feels like the industry is turning a corner. Attendees, in general, were much more interested in sustainable solutions and acknowledged that they will soon need or want to move to “greener” technologies.
We featured our GreenSorb® natural clay-based, reusable absorbent as well as our SAFECARE® series of powerful, industrial readily biodegradable cleaners. The simple GreenSorb® product demo in the booth provided the opportunity for some great in-depth conversations. We learned not only were attendees interested in these individual readily biodegradable products, but it turned out they also wanted to hear much more about a bigger sustainable chemical solution that would reduce risks, improve their brand recognition and save them money. As in any market, there is a value proposition that needs to be made and getting true cost of fleet operations and environmental clean-up costs in sync will continue to be a challenge.
This event gave us the opportunity to talk to many different constituents in the supply chain about high-performing environmentally responsible products, including our EnviroLogic® series of lubricants. We found equal interest across the board from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), waste hauling companies, and municipalities. Some of the early adopters had been disappointed by some of the earlier, under-performing biodegradable lubricants on the market. While the technology has vastly improved, most of the OEMs still need to validate the performance of lubricants in their systems. They need to protect their customers, their equipment and their well-earned brand reputation. Some OEMs believed that their applications were too technically challenging for biodegradable hydraulic fluids; they were surprised to learn that the operating conditions they described (pressures, temperature range, seals and elastomers) were totally suitable for either RSC Bio Solutions’ EnviroLogic® 100 series or EnviroLogic® 3000 series high-performance products. All appreciated the preliminary work we have done with haulers and end users, and our history with utility fleets as a “near adjacent” vertical helped displace initial skepticism.
Remarkably, there was real interest amongst this audience in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Vessel General Permit (VGP) which controls effluent of many streams off vessels. Part of the permit requires the use of environmentally acceptable lubricants and cleaners where there is a chance of fluid entering the water. To be considered environmentally acceptable, it must be readily biodegradable, minimally toxic and non-bio accumulating. The general conclusion was that if the EPA was mandating environmentally acceptable solutions at sea, land could not be that far behind.
The waste industry has been slowly adopting a variety of environmentally safe strategies, such as: natural gas engines, hybrid transmissions, and improved recycling protocols. Adding safer, more sustainable lubricant, cleaner and absorbent technologies is a low-cost, and obvious next step – and one that doesn’t require intensive capital investment!
We heard several stories about high pressure hydraulic hose leaks resulting in spraying petroleum oil across entire neighborhoods. Clean-up costs and efforts were expensive and on-going. The environmental exposure, clean-up costs and disgruntled customers could have been greatly alleviated through the use of environmentally safe lubricants, cleaners and absorbents. RSC Bio Solutions can supply the whole package and significantly enhance the waste haulers’ responsiveness. Some in the industry have already recognized the value of such a holistic solution; as for the others, I do believe they are starting to come around!