Cleaner production is a preventive business strategy designed to conserve resources, mitigate risks to human and environment, and promote greater overall efficiency through improved production techniques and technologies; including substituting different materials, modifying equipments and redesigning products. In addition to environmental, health and safety benefits many cleaner production techniques provide opportunities that produce a positive financial return. This paper ermines for; (1) identifying adverse environmental impacts of wood processing & furniture making (2) identify associated health & safety impacts, (3) opportunities for mitigating those impacts with an emphasis upon cleaner production strategies that may also provide financial benefits.
Walkthrough assessments (audits) were conducted in selected five small & medium scale wood processing and furniture manufacturing enterprises (SME) based industries in Sri Lanka. In auditing small meetings were held with management and their representatives and several workers were interviewed. Raw materials consumption, production & utility data were collected. Current operational level & environmental, safety & health practices were observed.
Adhesives formulations used in SME contain solvent releases to air & damages to the environment & health of workers. Volatile (planning & sanding of wood) are the main sources of air pollution. Wood preservatives & coating materials generate contaminated waste water as a result of drippage from wood surface leaking from drums that store & discard of used formulations. Identified two prominent sources of hazardous waste of this industry are paints & industrial solvents. Used florescent bulbs, chemical containers are also contributing for hazardous waste. Wood waste contributes problem of unsustainable timber use includes saw dust, shavings & end pieces & rejected timber. Inefficient sawing and cutting of wood, improper treating/storage practices and inadequate drying add more to the wood waste stream. Electricity consumption of the industry is high since machineries are powered with electricity, inefficient machineries, over designed machineries, air leaks from compressors, using bulbs for day time lighting contribute for higher energy consumption. Improper factory layout, poor attention on house keeping, poor arrangements in stores & waste management, lack of regular maintenance of machineries & equipments and poor attention on personal protective equipment (PPE) creates enormous problems of environmental, safety and health.
Use of less toxic alternatives for adhesives & coating materials, introducing new strategies for adhesive & coating material application and installing efficient dust collection system, introduce water bath for painting room will reduce air pollutions. Timber drying to satisfactory level, spray preservatives & coating materials on the wood using high velocity spray system (SVS), install drainage paths to divert rain water away from process water, store additives, solvents, wood treating chemicals with spill collection system, minimize drippage from sprayed on preservatives or coating materials prevent a risk of waste water production. Strategies for reducing paint & preservative waste, reuse of recovered materials, train spray gun operators in proper techniques, solvents and other chemical in closed containers prevent losses through evaporation and spillage and proper waste collection system enables reduction of hazardous waste. Train workers in efficient wood cutting techniques, redesigning of products, avoid over ordering, return unused/damaged or obsolete materials, designate central cutting area, promote new productive uses for wood scrap and waste wood as fuel for others reduce wood waste load. Good house keeping practices, proper waste management system and correct factory layout, regular maintenance of machinery and equipments will enhance the efficiency of the industry & reduce adverse impacts on environment, health & safety. Use direct sunlight for inner lightening in day time, regular maintenance of machinery & equipments, allocating effeicient machineries and introducing of alternative energy sources reduce energy consumption on significant level. Keep attention on PPEs, regular awareness & training programs for workers will prompt for better environmental, health & safety stands of the industry.
Department of forestry & Environmental Science university of Sri Jayewardenepura