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Problem: The staff of an area of operation (which included drilling, gas production and compression) of a major oil and gas company determined that its inventory of chemicals was excessive and that much of the generation of chemical waste was unnecessary. The company was also concerned about the generation of hazardous wastes resulting from its chemical inventory management.
Solution: The company addressed the problem by designing and implementing an inventory control system. The inventory control system is based on a complete inventory of all chemicals in the area of operation. To minimize chemical waste the company identified suitable (e.g., less toxic) substitute chemicals, eliminated the use of all halogenated and nonhalogenated organic solvents, determined instances where a specific chemical could be used for multiple purposes, and eliminated the use of 55-gallon drums, where possible. An important part of the system is a chemical evaluation prior to its purchase using material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and other manufacturer's information. The purchase of a new chemical is approved only after it is determined that the chemical complies with the inventory control system. Finally, all purchased chemicals are closely tracked to ensure efficient usage.
Benefits: The company eliminated about 32 unnecessary chemicals and products within 6 months of the program's initiation, which resulted in reduced regulatory compliance concerns (e.g., hazardous waste regulations) and savings in operating costs. Waste management concerns and costs were reduced due to the reduction in the number of 55-gallon drums on inventory. Also, the company's chemical suppliers were aware of the inventory control system and worked to supply chemicals which would be approved by the company's system.