Abanaki Corp. recently surveyed pollution control professionals and found that pollution control is far from a “top-of-mind” priority at most companies. In fact, respondents admitted that pollution control receives little budgeting priority.

Almost four out of ten respondents couldn’t recall the size of their pollution control budgets, and one out of four spent just 1-2 percent of their companies’ budgets on pollution control programs. Also, pollution control receives little attention, with more than a quarter of those surveyed reporting that they spend no time over the course of a year training personnel about proper pollution control, and 39 percent admitting they devote just one to two hours each year on pollution control training.

However, the survey shows that clean wastewater is a primary concern for respondents, 87 percent of whom listed removing oil from water as “most important” or “important.” Nearly half (49 percent) ranked coolant maintenance as “most important” or “important.” Issues such as groundwater remediation, exterior air pollution and interior air pollution/indoor air quality generated relatively little uneasiness.

According to Abanaki’s president, Tom Hobson, this finding is not surprising. By removing oil from water, he said, manufacturers can decrease their operating cost through reduced labor and maintenance, increased regulatory compliance, less machine downtime, cleaner work environments and more. “However the survey shows that respondents are struggling with a variety of pollution challenges, which spotlights the need for more education about the solutions that are already available and the importance of continuing product innovation,” said Hobson. 

Although the number of U.S. manufacturers recycling their waste has grown steadily over the last few decades, there is still room for improvement. Responses suggest that about one-third of U.S. facilities are recycling more than 50 percent of their total waste; 21 percent report that they're recycling less than 5 percent of all the waste they produce. Metal recycling is the most popular (68 percent), followed by paper, cardboard, oil and plastic materials. Of those who recycle, 20 percent reported recycling materials with their own facility, 59 percent sell recycled material to external parties and 51 percent dispose of the material to a recycling entity. 

Sixty-five percent of those surveyed reported that their facilities were recycling waste oil, either onsite or through a contract with a third-party disposal service. More may want to recycle on site because, of those who recycle waste oil, 38 percent reported their disposal costs have increased within the last year.