Eastman Chemical Company operates a large chemical manufacturing facility in Kingsport, Tennessee. In 1995 the BOD5 load to the wastewater treatment plant averaged 233,000 lb/day, well above the plant's design capacity of 200,000 lb/day. In addition, sludge production averaged
513 tons/day and periodically exceeded the site's disposal capacity. This resulted in an excess of sludge in the aeration basins and clarifiers and imposed significant constraints on process control. An engineering study estimated that a 25 percent capacity expansion of the treatment
plant would require a capital investment of 60 million. Provisions for adequate sludge disposal were estimated to cost an additional 40 million. The company launched an aggressive effort to drive at-source waste minimization. The waste minimization initiative consisted of two major elements:
1) a comprehensive waste load assessment program and 2) a cross-functional problem-solving team. The waste load assessment program was put in place to better quantify the organic load coming from each of the manufacturing areas. This information was used to identify where the greatest opportunities
were and to track improvements as minimization projects were implemented. The crossfunctional team developed plans and projects for reducing organic load. Projects were selected that had the highest waste reduction potential per dollar spent. Concurrent with the waste minimization initiative,
wastewater treatment personnel began to investigate process control techniques that could potentially reduce the sludge production rate. This included a modified sludge wasting strategy and dewatering process improvements. The success of the program was evident within one year of its initiation
and gains have been realized every year since. From 1995 to 2000, organic load to the wastewater treatment plant dropped by over 21% and sludge production was down by 34% — all of this during a time when manufacturing production was up by 10%. Not only was costly
expansion of the wastewater treatment and sludge disposal facilities deferred; annual operating expenditures for the treatment facility were reduced by almost 6,000,000.
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