Why Are Companies Generating Hazardous Waste?
Hazardous emissions from industry are seen by some as the price of progress. Since the industrial revolution industry has discharged pollutants into the environment under the assumption that nature could assimilate them safely. When the scale of production increased, industry built bigger chimneys and longer pipes into rivers and seas to discharge pollutants even farther in the hope that dilution of these emissions would move them ‘away.’ More dumps were dug, empty mine shafts were used for deep well injection of hazardous waste, and more ships dumped and burned industrial waste at sea.
In the 1970s engineering firms touted the benefits of end of pipe pollution controls and incinerators to governments and the rush to burn escalated. This supposed high tech answer to garbage, hospital waste, and industrial waste was adopted by governments in the industrialized world and promoted in the industrializing world by international financial institutions. But it will not solve the problem. Air emissions still result from incinerators and dioxins and other persistent chemicals can actually be formed during the burn process. Incinerators still generate hazardous ash, which then is sent to landfills. During the last decades the export of hazardous waste to developing countries has escalated.
Trying to deal with hazardous waste once it has been generated is asking the wrong question. The right questions are:
Why is industry generating hazardous waste in the first place?
What alternatives are there?
How Companies Can Eliminate their Use of Toxic Chemicals. Download fact sheet (.pdf)