Environmental Electroplating

Environmental Electroplating: Safety & Pollution Prevention

Environmental Electroplating is a fancy way of saying environmentally friendly. In the metal plating industry, responsible environmental electroplating is important for both safety and pollution prevention. In general, this concern for the environment comes from some of the inherent hazards that may come along with the practice of electrode position if not properly carried out.

For example, the electroplating industry is the 2nd largest user of nickel and the third largest user of cadmium. In addition, the industry is also a major user of chromium and other potentially harmful materials. American Plating Company, sees environmental electroplating as an important way to increase safety, reduce waste, and advocate for pollution prevention.

Current Regulations

Many of the laws applying to the electroplating industry in terms of environmental protection were created in 1970. Continuing through the 1980’s during the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some of the major laws enacted included: The Clean Air Act (1970), The Clean Water Act (1977), and The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (1980).

These regulations have limited the amount of cadmium, chromium, cyanide, lead, manganese, and nickel which can be emitted into the air and water. For good reason!

3 Major Strategies for Responsible Environmental Electroplating

1. Pursuit of Sustainable Manufacturing: Involves the use of environmentally safe, low-energy, resource conserving processes that focus on employee safety and economic efficiency. Sustainable manufacturing will increase the use of renewable resources and increase the use of recycling whenever possible.

2. Improving Energy Efficiency: Although partially discussed above, improvements in energy efficiency are a core focus of all manufacturing companies. New processes and technologies to lower energy use and overall costs include: better ventilation systems, tank covers, heaters & coolers, insulation, and workflow processes. It is likely these practices will remain a focal point of environmental electroplating for years to come.

3. Greener Chemistry: Finally, the creation of safer chemical products will help to greatly reduce the production of hazardous waste. Many governmental organizations such as the Navy (and the Department of Defense as a whole), have implemented greener chemical solutions which reduce the level of toxic materials. In the electroplating industry, replacements to cyanide, cadmium, and chromium chemistry’s have assisted in creating greener organizations. In addition, the use and continued growth of more stable electroless nickel plating have reduced concerns surrounding pollution from nickel by product as well.

These environmentally friendly developments should eventually eliminate the majority of hazardous waste in the electroplating industry. In addition, continued success is almost certain due to regulatory pressures and corporate programs to reduce energy use and waste production.

Additional Information:

For more information on responsible environmental electroplating or other info on the metal plating industry feel free to explore our other blog posts or give us a call at (314) 776-0542.

References:

Chalmer, Paul D. The Future of Finishing. 01 Jan. 2008. Michigan, Ann Arbor. Web. 17 Sept. 2015.

Davis, Gary A. et al. 1994. The Product Side of Pollution Prevention: Evaluating Potential Safe Substitutes. Cincinnati, Ohio: Risk Reduction           Laboratory, Office of Research and Development.

The Environmental Protection Agency: http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations