Power partnering drives innovation

Power partnering can be defined as ‘a long term, mutually beneficial agreement between partners, in which resources, knowledge and capabilities are shared with the objective of enhancing each partner’s competitive position’. Barbara Hutton, Cleanaway’s waste & recycling manager at BASF, Seal Sands, explains how the two companies worked together to achieve total waste management.

BASF Plc at Seal Sands is part of BASF AG, a transnational chemical company. At Seal Sands, BASF produces acrylonitrile, adiponitrile and hexamethylenediamine, which are used in the production of acrylic and nylon fibres for clothing and carpets, together with a range of acrylic and nylon plastics for the domestic, engineering and motor industries.

Before 1996, Seal Sands had undertaken the traditional bargaining approach to business outsourcing, which led to a number of problems including an environment focused on price minimisation and limited reward and recognition for innovations from suppliers.

At Seal Sands, BASF and its alliance partners operate in an atmosphere of openness and trust which maximises information flow and encourages innovation. The advantage to BASF of contracting out to best-in-world suppliers is that it gains competitive advantage through the innovations brought to the site by its alliance partners.

At the core of BASF’s successfully managed ‘Outsourcing for Innovation’ programme is a vision that inspires internal and external people to work together. Such vision is essential because daily line contact is impossible and technical people must be free to jump to wherever the action and rewards look most exciting.

BASF works with each of its alliance partners to ensure that there are common aims and objectives and mutually agreed performance indicators. The dynamism of BASF alliance managers helped make goals exciting and explicit.

For a number of years, certain aspects of waste management at Seal Sands had been less than satisfactory leading to some accumulation of drummed waste on site. Senior BASF managers recognised that there was a pressing need for waste to be better managed by a competent third-party with sufficient resources to ensure compliance with existing and expanding environmental legislation.

At the beginning of 2001, BASF formed an alliance partnership with Cleanaway who were awarded the contract for Total Waste Management. This was a multidisciplinary contract encompassing not only waste management but also industrial cleaning. To fulfil the remit of the Total Waste Management contract Cleanaway partnered up with two companies: DB Industrial Services (Industrial Jetting) and Brambles (Chemical Cleaning).

Total waste management

Cleanaway’s Total Waste Management operations have a successful track record in alliance partnerships. BASF were impressed by how the company brought added value to other non-BASF contracts.

Central to Cleanaway’s success has been the dynamic and vibrant mix of people working within Total Waste Management. BASF were impressed with Cleanaway’s commitment to the Environment, Health and Safety which was evident in all of the company’s contracts, and to the personal drive of operational managers who were delivering year on year improvements to the contracts. The culture of BASF and Cleanaway was therefore very similar which ensured a good strategic fit between the two companies.

A year into the contract and Cleanaway has already delivered some major improvements and innovations:

The company has established a waste management system on site, so that there is a ‘cradle-to-grave’ audit trail of waste from the point of production to the point of off-site disposal. This is coupled with monthly reporting of waste movements, costs and recycling credits. For the first time BASF can identify the ‘true’ cost of waste on site.

Cleanaway also instigated major recycling initiatives both in the Plant areas and in the offices. An innovative scheme involved 40,000 product bags left over from a Plant closure. These bags were taken to an Environment Agency-recommended packaging recovery plant in North Yorkshire. Steve Kettlewell, an ex-national hunt jockey and until recently thoroughbred trainer, had initially been shredding materials for animal bedding as an aside to his training operations. The shredding business very quickly grew and became full time.

After successful trials with the BASF bags, Steve was able to accept all the redundant packaging, with the shredded bags being put to good use as bedding for thoroughbred horses. Other materials being recycled on site include: engineering oil, canteen oil, scrap, polypropylene, polystyrene packing beads, mixed plastics, batteries, pallets, scrap wood, green waste (for composting), paper, cardboard, printer/photocopier cartridges. Good quality wood is being sent to PERCY, a charity in Middlesbrough that collects re-usable waste materials and distributes them for use in children’s play and educational activities.

In-situ cleaning of an effluent tank, which could not be taken off-line without major plant disruption was also carried out. This involved a high pressure spinning nozzle inserted into the tank on a long lance to break-up solids. A specialised combined chemical and water jetting clean of the boilers led to a positive vacuum across economisers for the first time in years.

Another important action was the bio-remediation of oil contaminated areas that previously had been difficult to clean. Here, a bio-gel comprising an aqueous suspension of selected natural bacteria, nutrients and cleaning agents was used to digest the hydrocarbons with no adverse environmental impact or harmful residues.

As can be seen the partnership is flourishing, and both BASF and Cleanaway are looking forward to further innovations in the years to come.

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