Materials Life Cycle Management There is nothing new or unique about hazardous materials management or life cycle management. Unfortunately, the bulk, but not all, of the work on related topics has been separated into those two areas, and a tremendous amount of what is written about hazardous material management really focuses on the operational environment rather than on the product and the process. There are a limited number of programs and researchers tackling the issue, so most of the literature, and therefore the most popular best practices, are built upon a framework that assumes incidents will occur and we must focus on incident response, postincident cleanup, and minimization of incidents. Every bit of that is critically important, but it ignores the larger issue of how to reduce the overall use of hazardous materials, how to maximize the effectiveness of the materials used, and how to minimize or better utilize hazardous material waste streams. The total hazardous material impact from any business equals the total of a number of small incremental hazardous material uses and even smaller hazardous material waste streams. Therefore, it becomes necessary to examine the entire business unit, and it becomes necessary to more closely examine the product and processes used to make the product. Since hazardous materials exist in the office environment and in the janitorial/maintenance areas, this applies to services that are the produced as well as tangible products
A hazardous material life cycle management approach recognizes that every process and every material used in the production of finished goods represent an opportunity to reduce the usage of hazardous materials, move to less hazardous materials, or move to alternate processes. Therefore, life cycle management of hazardous material must include direct and indirect processes, products, and waste streams, as well as all support functions. In the everyday world, we tend to focus on regulations, compliance, costs, and “exposure” when we talk about hazardous materials. What is lost is the underlying reason that governments are forced to regulate: the inherent dangers to the global environment of excessive use and improper disposal of that which is hazardous. Going back to that very simple concept, it is easier to understand why life cycle management of hazardous material needs to focus on removing as much material as possible from the entire process, converting it
to nonhazardous or less hazardous materials and processes, and, finding ways to recover hazardous waste streams and turn them into productive assets in one manner or another.