Embraer makes big impact by recycling spent fluorescent bulbs

Embraer Aircraft Maintenance Services Inc.
Tags: energy management

Embraer Aircraft Maintenance Services (EAMS) is an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility located in Nashville, Tenn. EAMS has approximately 325 employees. The facility consists of three large hangars, primarily used to perform MRO services for regional airline customers.

Embraer acquired this facility in 2002 and has expanded its MRO services by adding three satellite repair facilities. These facilities are located in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Mesa, Ariz.; and Bradley Field, Conn. The facilities will support the corporate customers that utilize the Legacy and Phenom aircraft, small executive jets manufactured by Embraer. EAMS’ customers are largely comprised of the commercial aircraft industry and regional aircraft carriers.

Embraer’s NPEP Goal
EAMS is environmentally conscientious and makes every effort to protect the environment. EAMS set cadmium and mercury reduction goals. Through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Partnership for Environmental Priorities (NPEP) program, EAMS set a goal to recycle cadmium waste. NPEP’s Mercury Challenge allowed EAMS another opportunity to reduce impacts to the environment by recycling spent fluorescent bulbs and installing the Green Tip fluorescent bulbs, which contain lower mercury contents.

Waste Minimization Results
At present, EAMS recycles more than 100 bulbs every quarter and, on average, replaces 400 to 500 bulbs per year. The spent bulbs are collected in closed containers and sent to a recycling station located in Alabama.

All bulbs throughout the facility have been changed over to the lower mercury content bulbs and will be replaced within the next two years with the energy-efficient bulbs, which have a three-year life span. EAMS estimates that recycling 500 bulbs eliminates 25 grams of mercury from entering the environment. The low-mercury bulbs should reduce mercury on an annual basis another 10 grams.

The second part of the company’s success story was to recycle or recover cadmium used in plating processes. Embraer in Nashville generates approximately 1,200 pounds of cadmium waste per year, which historically was disposed of as a hazardous waste (generally incinerated). The chosen method that the company has implemented is to recycle the cadmium by removing the cadmium particles from the rinse water, which was used during the plating process. This cadmium material is sent back for reclamation and is reused as it re-enters the commodities market. EAMS estimates that the total sent back for reclamation was approximately 900 pounds of cadmium.

EAMS also recycles nickel cadmium batteries used in aircraft and smaller batteries used in flashlights, such as rechargeable type batteries. The recycling of hazardous waste is a driving force for EAMS. In the future, as an active environmental partner, the company says it will do its part to conserve resources and preserve the environment.

Lessons Learned
Looking forward, Embraer has learned that recycling helps the environment and helps to keep costs low for the consumer.

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