Covanta Environmental Solutions
Covanta Environmental Solutions (CES) helps more than 3,500 commercial and industrial customers across the U.S. and Canada identify opportunities to minimize waste and find beneficial uses for mate-rials that would otherwise be thrown away. We provide a variety of sensitive services, from assuring the destruction of confidential materials to converting liquid waste into a clean renewable resource.
Through CES, we help our growing commercial and industrial customer base achieve their zero-waste-to-landfill, GHG-reduction, or other sustainability goals while significantly reducing their long-term environmental liability exposures. CES manages a variety of solid and liquid wastes collected through our own transportation logistics capabilities or licensed third parties.
CES offers environmental solutions in three focus areas:
- Sustainable Materials Management;
- Healthcare Solutions
- Field and On-Site Services
Sustainable Materials Management
CES operates eleven materials processing facilities (MPFs) in the eastern US and Canada to provide sustainable materials-management services to commercial and industrial clients. Typically located in areas with increased industrial and commercial activity, our MPFs allow us to provide a greater range of service to our clients and extend the practical reach of our WTE facilities by allowing consolidation of smaller generators into larger full truckload shipments. This reduces transportation impacts and allows for greater diversion of wastes from landfills. In addition, our MPFs often serve as a point of aggregation for recycling, composting, and anaerobic digestion services.
Our clients vary in size and industry, each confronted with unique waste challenges. To learn how we tackled some of these challenges with our clients, including Subaru and American Airlines, please view the case studies on our resources page.
Through a variety of processes, such as pH adjustment, oil-water separation and flocculation (aggregation of fine particulates) and precipitation, we safely recycle wastewater back into productive use in cooperation with publicly owned treatment works. Our in-house lab capabilities ensure proper treatment and compliance with all permits, offering a better alternative to liquid solidification for landfilling or deep-well injection.
Covanta recycles millions of gallons of wastewater every year. Learn more here.
Wastewater Beneficial Reuse
Some wastewaters can be repurposed without treatment. At some of our WTE facilities, we directly use certain wastewaters as direct replacements for potable water in some of our processes, including in air pollution control equipment. Depending on composition and contaminants, wastewaters may be mutually beneficial, offering a reuse solution for the generator and providing some properties that are useful in our own processes. For example, certain wastewaters that contain ammonia can reduce the use of reagents in our selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) systems.
In addition, Covanta’s equipment and trained personnel provide in-plant cleaning, washing or removal of tanks and other vessels, lab packing of chemicals, safety consulting and decontamination. Learn more about how we’re with industry partner Globalcycle here.
Did you know?
Covanta is optimizing water use by reusing process water and avoiding the withdrawal of freshwater?
Covanta works with industry partners, such as Globalcycle, a commercially permitted wastewater treatment and recycling facility in New England, to source reclaimed water for our operations that is not suitable for returning to the municipal water treatment plant. In this way, we are reusing process water and avoiding the withdrawal of fresh water from the local utility for our operations. In 2020, we were able to beneficially reuse nearly 15 million gallons of untreated wastewater.
Electronic Waste Recycling
According to the US EPA, electronic waste, known as e-waste, is the source of 70 percent of heavy metals—including mercury and lead—in landfills. The presence of heavy metals in landfills poses an ongoing risk to surrounding communities and the environment.
In response to the growing need for electronics recycling, the CES ECOvanta business line provides secure and confidential electronic waste recycling services at an e-Stewards certified facility in Southwest Philadelphia. In 2020, we processed over 12 million pounds of waste electronics, often partnering with local communities and states in e-waste collection drives.
Once at our facility, e-waste is disassembled and sorted into separate streams in accordance with our Electronic Waste Policy. These streams are sent to various downstream processors that specialize in different commodities. For example:
- Shredded hard drives, circuit boards and computer parts collectively called “electronic scrap” are sent to specialty processors that can recover the materials, such as silver, gold and other precious metals.
- Other components, including frames, cabinets, cases and TV screens, are separated and sent for recycling.
- Only about five percent of the incoming waste is sent for energy recovery (g., mixed-in trash, wood, particle-board cabinets).
E-waste recycling facility featured in NowThis News in the series “One Small Step.”
Fate of Processed e-Waste
We provide custom pharmaceutical waste solutions for consumers, medical professionals, law enforcement and healthcare facilities to protect water resources, prevent accidental poisonings and reduce the risk of drugs being misused—all while creating renewable energy. Our Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) / Health Canada approved Reverse Distribution Network provides nationwide capabilities for reverse distribution and drug take-back programs. We destroy 20 million pounds of controlled substances every year.
CES continues to operate pharmaceutical take-back programs in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the California Product Stewardship Council. These programs allow for consumers to return unused and expired medications for safe and secure disposal at kiosks and drop-off boxes that are installed at retail pharmacies, hospitals and long-term-care facilities across New York and California. CES has expanded this successful model to include take-back programs for Washington and Oregon. Locate your nearest drop-off location here.
We manage certain regulated medical waste streams at specially equipped and permitted WTE facilities. These waste streams, including those designated as “must incinerate” by regulators, are handled through an automated delivery system that introduces the wastes directly into the feed hopper of the combustion unit, thereby eliminating direct human contact. Reaching temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the combustion process ensures pathogens and contaminants are destroyed. Unlike stand-alone medical waste incinerators or autoclaves, our facilities produce energy from the process to help reduce overall environmental impacts. Relative to the autoclave process, our combustion process also eliminates the need to landfill treated medical waste and destroys any residual pharmaceuticals that may be present.