Ever-tightening regulations on releases to the environment have become a major business factor for the chemical industry. The Organic Chemicals, Plastics, and Synthetic Fibers (OCPSF) effluent guidelines have required many manufacturing sites to expand or upgrade their wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) at considerable cost. Du Pont has recognized the need to shift the emphasis from “end-of-pipe” treatment to waste reduction and elimination at the process source. The Du Pont Belle, West Virginia plant is implementing a program to comply with the OCPSF effluent guidelines by reducing the organic waste load to the WWTP, with secondary emphasis on upgrading the facility for more efficient treatment. This program will reduce the WWTP load by 50%, control priority pollutants at their source and minimize future shock loads from nine processes. This approach will save over $7 million of the investment that would have been required if the effluent reductions were achieved only from WWTP modifications. BOD loads have been reduced to date by over 40% and forecast permit exceedances have dropped from 19 to 2 since 1987. Other anticipated benefits of the waste minimization program are reduced sludge production and volatile organic emissions, as well as greatly improved product yield in one process.

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