Lesson 3 Waste management and reduction in the automotive industry


Waste management can be generally considered the entire treatment or handling process from waste collection via recycling/treatment to final disposal. Although the concept of close-loop or green supply chain has been introduced and discussed for approximately two decades, it is still a long way to go to achieve holistic green supply chain management due to the extremely high costs and technical requirements. Sustainable waste management can be considered as the first step for achieving holistic green supply chain management [[i]].

According to Directive 2008/98/EC waste management means the collection, transport, recovery and disposal of waste, including the supervision of such operations and the after-care of disposal sites, and including actions taken as a dealer or broker.

Environmental aspects of the automotive industry

–           Emissions

–           Noise reduction

–           Mobile air-conditioning systems (MACs)

–           Diesel cars.

Waste Management

– planning waste management activities

– training of staff involved in waste management

– organizing the waste management activity

– evaluation of activities in the waste management process

– pursuing and fulfilling the responsibilities regarding the waste management

Waste management refers to the various schemes to manage and dispose of wastes. It can be by discarding, destroying, processing, recycling, reusing, or controlling wastes. The prime objective of waste management is to reduce the amount of unusable materials and to avert potential health and environmental hazards.

Waste management is associated with the manufacturing process of all products. The most recommended waste management approaches include the reduction of the quantity of generated waste, the expansion of environmentally friendly recycling technologies, and the maximization of re-use while at the same time fulfilling governmental measures related to waste management [[ii]]. Waste management is one of the main challenges faced by more advanced societies given the steady increase in its production and environmental, economic and social impact. Despite the fact that this is the environmentally least sustainable option, most of this waste continues to be disposed of in landfill sites.

However, the current trend is to reduce this practice in favor of environmentally and economically more interesting options. The Waste Framework Directive of 2008 introduced a waste management hierarchy in which the indicated options from higher to lower priority are prevention, reuse, recycling, material and energy recovery and, finally, disposal of the waste. As would be expected, the first option is based on reducing waste generation either by discouraging the sale of disposable articles, limiting the use of plastics, encouraging the return of glass packaging, etc.

The second best option is reuse, which can be undertaken depending on the specific product concerned (packaging, toner cartridges, shopping bags, clothing, etc.). Although the product itself may occasionally not be able to be reused, it can nevertheless be recycled for another use, such as the case of paper and glass.

If none of these alternatives are feasible, and rather than simply depositing waste in a landfill site, the only sustainable means of gaining some economic benefit from it is to recover the valuable products from it.

Recovery can be either material or energy-based.

  • Material recovery involves using the waste as a raw material in another process. This is the case of slag from blast furnaces and the rubble produced during building demolitions etc., which can be used in cement production as they contain the same minerals present in the traditional raw materials.
  • Energy recovery is another means of extracting some benefit from waste by using it to obtain renewable energy while solving an environmental problem.

The various energy recovery technologies available can be classified as either biological or thermal processes. The former can be applied when the waste contains a significant biodegradable fraction, whereas the latter will be viable when the calorific value of the waste, which is measured by way of the lower calorific value (LCV), is medium or high.

Most widely used energy recovery processes are:

  • Disposal and exploitation of landfill gas
  • Biomethanization
  • Pyrolysis
  • Gasification
  • Combustion with excess oxygen (incineration).


[[i]] Hao Yu et all, A decision aided system for sustainable waste management. Intelligent Decision Technologies 9 (2015) 29–40, DOI 10.3233/IDT-140203, IOS Press Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270871525_A_decision_aided_system_for_sustainable_waste_anagement

[[ii]] https://condorchem.com/en/blog/waste-recovery/

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