Article by Arantxa Ivars Ferrer, Industrial Engineer, Spanish Depot Service, S.A. Quality and Environment Department responsible. Translated by J.L.Reig.
All production proceses and the consumption of the goods and services required by society involves the use of natural resourses and the generation of waste, emissions and deposits which have a clear effect on the environment.
One of the principal objectives of a sustainable development policy is to break the relationship between the growth of economic activity and the negative impacts it generates. In order to analyse this relationship an eco- efficiency concept has been developed with the basic principal of “producing more with less”.
Eco- efficiency is an administrative culture which guides businesses towards assuming social responsibility in order to become more competitive by adapting and remodilling existing production systems to the requirements of the market and the environment and allowing the highest levels of economic loss that this ensues. This fact means that companies are beginning to contemplate the need for tighter control over their processes in order to reduce “ losses” leading to increased financial and environmental rewards.
The implementation of what is commonly referred to Good Environmental Practices in different areas of the company allows for the simple, fast and low or no cost rationalisation and savings in the consumption of raw materials, energy and water. This in turn results in savings in costs, and a reduction in the volume of waste generated, the environmental impact of air emissions, and noise and waste disposals caused by the activity in question.
So, there are no excuses and the time has come to progress from discussion stage in defence of environment to achieving real results.
Like any other company, a depot can choose to become eco-efficient by adopting control systems that will allow the company to carry out their activities in such a way that will reduce the environmental impact to a minimum. However, the requires the shared commitment of all those involved in the container handling chain as waste generated by the storage of empty containers depends to a large extent on the waste that arrives inside the containers.
On opening the doors of a suppsedly empty container it is not uncommon to find the remains of goods which do not even correspond to the last cargo transported.
This suggests that containers are being used as a way of disposing the waste that gets in the way at points of unloading which means that depots, as the ultimate receiver of the goods, are burdened with costs of handling the waste generated by the entire transport chain.
Why do waste receiving companies dispose of their waste by dispositing it in the container when it should be returned clean for the next cargo? The reason for this behaviour could simply be financial as the sanction that has to be paid for returning a dirty container to its owner in less that it would cost to return it clean.
There is no doubt that attitudes must change and higher levels of prevention and care must be achieved. The implementation of an environmental responsibility framework will create the awareness that we are all responsible fro the consequences of our actions on the environment.
The environment must be considered as a being “ for the common being” and therefore the responsibility of society as a whole.