The pursuit of greenery is not bypassed by business either – companies are increasingly concerned about their own business footprint – waste, so for many producers ecology, environmental protection, responsible waste sorting and safe disposal have been at the top of the list for some time.
This is also confirmed by Vitoldas Sapožnikovas, the director of the hazardous and non-hazardous waste management company Žalvaris. According to him, companies’ attitudes towards the environment and the impact of business on nature are changing, which leads to higher requirements for waste management partners.
“Smart and progressive businesses are looking for sustainable solutions to organize their activities, implementing technologies that help reduce the environmental impact of their activities. And these businesses are active – interested in processes that basically take place outside their company premises – asking for information on how the waste generated in their activities has been disposed of, whether it has been recycled or perhaps used for energy production. This is gratifying, because such a changing approach encourages changes in the entire sector – both waste holders and waste managers, ”says V. Sapožnikov.
The extent of waste and environmental pollution in Lithuania and the world is growing. In 2020 alone, this company collected and processed about 42 thousand. tons of waste, which is even a third more than in 2019.
About 47 percent. The waste managed by the company is used for the production of electricity and heat, similarly – it is recycled, later new products are produced from it. And only a very small proportion of waste ends up in landfills. Among recyclable products – paper, cardboard, uncontaminated film, plastic packaging – it usually becomes new products of the same type. However, there is also waste that, after recycling, turns into new items for other purposes – for example, recycled tires can become the coating for children’s playgrounds.
“Every day we collect and prepare for recycling hundreds of tons of various waste. Automotive waste, end-of-life electronics, wires, cables, industrial waste are all sorted, prepared for recycling or recycled in-house. It should be noted that the management and recycling of such extremely hazardous waste as car filters or batteries also requires special conditions, which only one other waste manager in our country has, ”reveals V.Sapožnikovas.
Waste management in Lithuania is receiving more and more attention from institutions and the public, but the stories when waste management emerges as non-management are not so rare. As a result, legal requirements for waste management are becoming stricter, and pollution taxes for individual types of waste are increasing with them.
The experiences of industrial companies operating in different sectors in the field of waste management differ, but several trends are evident: the perception of the responsibility of the waste holder is changing, the priority is environmental protection and ring-fencing, and the importance of a reliable partnership is growing.
“We never calculated how much we would save if we didn’t manage waste. Responsible production is a normal way of life “
Karolina Arūnienė, Occupational Safety and Environmental Engineer, Freda, the oldest furniture industry company in Lithuania, agrees that environmental protection is becoming one of the most important priorities of business activities. The company pays special attention to this area at all stages of production.
“Businesses need to be responsible not only because they have or do not have a tangible financial benefit. By sincerely investing resources in environmental protection, it is possible to obtain a long-term return for the entire environment around us, ”says K.Arūnienė.
Today, the largest share of waste in the company is accounted for by industrial and chemical finishing materials. A significant part of the waste consists of wood, which has already been recycled and reused according to the principles of the circular economy. “We are a large furniture manufacturing company, so the amount of waste generated is huge – it reaches tens of thousands of tons per year. However, we never calculated how much we would save if we did not manage waste. It’s just out of the question, “says the specialist.
According to K.Arūnienė, it is precisely due to the complex waste management process, which requires knowledge and competence, that it is important to responsibly choose a partner to whom this part of the process can be entrusted.
The company’s representative notes that the field of environmental protection in Lithuania is becoming more and more transparent and hopes that in the next 5-6 years it will become an integral part of every business. K.Arūnienė advises companies not to view waste management as a formality – submission of reports and compliance with laws, but to strive for the highest possible environmental efficiency.
“It is an honor for every responsible company to apply high environmental standards in its activities”
Orlen Lietuva also pays special attention to environmental protection. The company invests in the implementation of nature protection measures, closely cooperates with Lithuanian and international companies in developing ecological programs, has an international environmental management system certificate, which testifies to the company’s social responsibility in this area. “It is an honor for every responsible company to apply high environmental standards in its activities and to demonstrate compliance with environmental requirements through its actual actions,” said Dorina Šemetienė, Senior Engineer of the Ecology Department.
The company’s activities generate a variety of wastes on a daily basis, with a list of 100 different waste names. These are commercial or household wastes specific to each business entity: packaging, discarded electrical and electronic equipment, mixed municipal and biodegradable waste.
Specific wastes specific to industrial activities include sludges containing oil products, soils and other sediments containing them. According to D.Šemetienė, a large amount of waste is generated during repair works or during the annual repairs of technological equipment of the refinery. During that period, the main waste streams consisted of spent catalysts, ash, coke, fumigation, sandblasting waste, scrap metal, construction and demolition waste.
“The amount of waste generated per year depends on the scope of repair works carried out or the scale of projects implemented. Waste and its management have been and continue to be an integral part of the oil refining process. It is constantly carried out in the company’s facilities, “says a company representative.
According to the specialist, waste management technologies are changing over the years: what used to end up in a landfill is now being recycled. “Today, the flow of generated waste in the company is lower than before, it is influenced by economical and efficient use of materials and their higher quality, optimized business processes. The new approach to waste and its management is also formed by changes in legal regulation, stricter requirements, ”notes D.Šemetienė.
“We pay a lot of attention to waste recycling, we are looking for solutions that would allow us to use it a second time.”
The company Jupiter Bach Lietuva, which manufactures wind turbine housings, is also indifferent to environmental issues. Green energy is inseparable from the topic of sustainability, therefore, according to the company’s environmental safety and health specialist Edgars Naujokas, environmental friendliness is one of the most important priorities of the company’s activities.
“We always strive to be as sustainable as possible, we care about the environment. Therefore, although the company’s production processes do not allow to significantly reduce the amount of waste generated, we pay a lot of attention to their recycling, we are looking for modern, alternative solutions that would allow certain waste to be turned into raw material and reused, ”says E. Naujokas.
Most of the company’s waste consists of fiberglass, otherwise known as simply plastic – in the production of it, the glass cloth is saturated with a two-component resin, a hardener, which when solidified turns into fiberglass plastic. Another large part of the waste is glass cloth fragments, various films and paints, inks, etc. classified as hazardous waste. “Really large amounts of this waste are generated per year: films alone – over half a hundred tons, and where there is paper and cardboard – the figures here also reach several tens of tons. Not to mention household waste, although its scale is a bit smaller, ”says E. Naujokas.
The company representative emphasizes the importance of a reliable partnership in the field of waste management. Transparency is a priority here, as is the constant search for new and effective solutions. “Today, many companies strive to be greener, more responsible, want to use waste as a secondary raw material, but often do not know how to do it. Having a reliable partner does not raise such issues – it is not necessary to incinerate or bury all waste in landfills, in some cases it can be resurrected. And what specific case to choose the solution – the professionals in their field know best, ”E. Naujokas is convinced.