Polymer additives can be unintentionally released to the air, water and land if effective steps are not taken to identify and minimise the likelihood of such emissions. This section highlights the major emission source categories and the potential sources.
Operational uses of polymer additives may result in land emissions. The following are particular sources of emissions:
Land emissions from residual products in empty packaging represent the largest component of overall potential emissions.
When handling powdered materials, such as in packaging lines or in systems for loading reactor vessels, it is essential to use a local exhaust ventilation system whenever possible when emptying polymer additives packaging; this will minimise dust emissions. Equipping ventilation systems with adequate filters can reduce air emissions by up to 99 percent. In addition, closing any windows or doors located near ventilation systems will help avoid interference with the exhaust system. Avoiding outdoor storage of empty packaging in open containers will also reduce risk.
Water-based dispersions of polymer additives requires special measures in their processes to prevent environmental releases. Any water used during processing and cleaning should be kept completely separate from rainwater to avoid it entering water streams untreated. Washing re-usable protective clothing in cleaning facilities outside the plant where BFRs are handled should be avoided.
Non-reusable samples/off-specification material should be collected, stored if possible, then disposed of as chemical waste once testing has been completed.
During manufacturing, multiple transfers or blending operations may occur before final processing. When processed, base resins encapsulate the polymer additive or, in some cases, react with the additive to form the desired plastic.
However, powdered polymer additives can stick to packaging and processing equipment. This creates a risk of airborne dust during transfer processes. Similarly, water-based production processes pose a high risk of waterborne emissions.
These potential risks underline why it is essential to have effective preventative measures in place for identifying and minimising any potential emissions.
Polymer additive producers are legally required to keep their Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for brominated flame retardant additives they place on the market up-to-date. They are also required to inform customers of any updates. SDSs can be requested via the producers’ websites or downloaded from:
Formal cleaning procedures and effective industrial hygiene should be part of any manufacturing sites operating procedures. The procedures put in place should reflect any requirements set out in additive safety data sheets to minimise worker exposure and potential release to the environment. These procedures should be monitored and controlled to maintain the highest standards. Employees should be trained to clean work areas frequently, regularly and thoroughly.
Key recommended actions:
This guide also provides more detailed information on important potential sources of emissions and the current best practices in:
There are three main packaging forms for polymer additives
1. Start the ventilation system. Place the bag under the hood, on top of the funnel or other opening, for filling.
2. Position the bag so that the fill spout faces the operator. Cut the opening in the bag on the opposite side of the fill spout.
3. Tip the bag to expose the cut side to the fill spout and empty the bag.
4. Shake the empty bag vigorously.
5. Roll up the empty bag to remove all the air.
6. Place rolled-up bag in a plastic bag, ready for disposal.
7. Close the plastic bag of empty paper/plastic bags when full and place in a shipping container for proper disposal.
1. Check if ventilation system is engaged. Mount the bag above the hopper.
2. Release bottom closures.
3. Secure the sack to the hopper to prevent any spillage; product should discharge by gravity.
4. Once emptied, shake all four corners of bag vigorously to release any remaining material.
5. Carefully fold the empty packaging ready for disposal.
6. Pack it into a polyethylene plastic bag, close it and place it in a shipping container for proper disposal.
1. If the material is very viscous, heat the IBC to help the material flow from the container easily.
2. Once emptied, tilt the IBC, either manually or mechanically (see image) to increase flow to the outlet tap area.
3. Use a shovel to scrape the remaining material from the sides; note that where the material is highly viscous it may cling to the sides of the IBC, or
4. Use a vacuum pump via the dip pipe while carefully tilting the IBC or drum to collect material in one area to remove any remaining product.
5. Following cleaning, send the remaining sludge for appropriate end of life treatment by reuse, recycling, incineration or in controlled landfill, depending on local requirements.