Waste Disposal Remains Key Concern for Labs

NEW YORK--Meeting stringent local and federal requirements for safely disposing of waste materials is one of the biggest challenges in operating an optical prescription laboratory. A number of suppliers specialize in helping labs manage their wastes or offer biodegradable chemicals and consumables, including Practical Systems Inc., Universal Photonics, Western Optical Supply, OptiSource, Brain Power Inc. (BPI) and Gerber Coburn.

Typical of the waste management issues facing labs is the situation that Vision Craft, an independent wholesaler in Yakima, Wash., recently found itself in.

“Two representatives of our wastewater treatment facility visited us,” recalled lab president Marvin K. Calahan. “They produced a glass jar filled with what can best be described as ‘nasty looking stuff.’...They had traced this product back through the sewer lines to our location. It was very apparent that the ‘stuff’ was a mixture of polish, wastewater from our surface fining, and a few other miscellaneous goodies that had found their way down the drain. I was also informed that a sample had been sent for laboratory testing, and that the purpose of this visit was to enlighten us as to the results of that testing.”

The good news, according to Calahan, was that there were no hazardous materials present. The bad news was that the ratings were extremely high and would result in a reclassification of Vision Craft’s wastewater and an exponential increase in its water and sewer bill.

Calahan was granted a six-week reprieve to attempt to reduce both the TSS and BOD ratings. He then contacted Practical Systems Inc. (PSI), the Odessa, Fla.-based company that markets various waste treatment systems for labs.

“To reduce the large amount of solids we were sending down the drain, PSI suggested their Model 860 Pan Handler to separate our solids and liquids,” he said. “To reduce our water usage, PSI recommended the Model 993-2T Filtration System for filtering and recycling the water used in our surface fining.”

Within three weeks, both units had been installed and were producing clean wastewater for disposal. Vision Craft’s wastewater was monitored for a week; by the second week in August, the lab had positive results.
“Our efforts have allowed us to keep our water and sewer expenditures in check and are helping us to do our part in developing more community-friendly disposal processes,” said Calahan.    
--Andrew Karp