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Eliminating Hazardous Products: Cost Savings Through the Improvement of the Storage of Chemicals

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A Small Scale Tannery Close to Chennai / India

In brief

This factory of 35 people lost a considerable amount of chemicals in storage. By improving the facilities for warehousing and the storage procedures, the tannery managed to reduce the monthly purchase of chemical products by 9% over a period of 3 months.

The challenge

The quality of most of the chemical products of the tannery (such as lime powder, chromium salts etc.) were deteriorating because of the fact that materials were stored under humid conditions. For lack of space in the designated deposit, paper bags containing powdered chemicals were stored directly on the floor. As a result, the moisture of the floor could easily reach the paper bags and its contents. Additionally, the occasional leakages in the bags led to soil and groundwater contamination.

Actions taken within the enterprise (after application of the PREMA GHK guide)

As a first step, the storage area of the chemicals was cleared of all unnecessary materials (empty chemical containers, machine parts and spare parts, garbage) to increase the available storage space.

The compacted floor of the storage area for chemicals was evenly covered with a concrete floor.

To avoid the storage of powdered chemicals on the floor, the tannery acquired discarded wooden pallets at a nearby harbour and placed all chemicals on these pallets. At the same time, incompatible chemicals were clearly separated and containers were clearly marked with signs.

Environmental benefits

The environmental impact has been reduced in the following ways: 1) hazardous chemicals cannot leak into the soil because they have been placed on an impermeable floor (for example concrete) in the storage area.  2) Contaminating chemicals are no longer eliminated through an unauthorized dump site.

Economic Benefits

Investment costs

KES 1,000

For the purchase of:

Concrete floor (KES85 for 84 m2)

10 wooden pallets (US$ 15 each)

Yearly savings

KES 900

For the reduction in the purchase of chemicals

Payback time

14 months

 

Organizational improvements

Having cleared the storage area from all unnecessary materials, all chemicals are now stored in a central location with controlled access and adequate ventilation to keep humidity, temperature, and the concentration of smoke and fume at a low level.  Only those materials necessary for one day of production are being transported in a cart to the production area, resulting in better control of the use of materials and less waste of expensive chemicals.

Improvement of occupational health and safety

The separation and labeling of chemical products has improved the safety standards of the storage facilities in the tannery. The improvements in the storage area allow for an easier identification of the different chemicals in the tank and prevent possible losses that may result from an accidental mixing of different non-compatible chemicals stored.

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