The industry is considered as the engine that moves the world. Currently, we can observe in any media how technology is advancing, developing increasingly sophisticated production and management methods. However, since the industrial revolution, human beings have faced an obstacle, which, for the moment, they have not been able to avoid: the enormous amount of industrial waste generated by the development of industry.

Everyone is aware that the increase in industrial activity is irreparably damaging the environment. For this reason, it is necessary to promote circular economy and low environmental impact strategies with the aim of minimizing damage to the planet. At ATRIA, we want to contribute our grain of sand, and for this reason, in today’s blog, we are going to explain how industrial waste should be managed in the most respectful way with the environment and how we can work to give it a second use.

What is an industrial waste?

According to Spanish Law 22/2011, of July 28, on waste and contaminated soil, industrial waste is defined as waste resulting from manufacturing, transformation, use, consumption, cleaning or maintenance processes generated by the activity industrial. That is, they are all those goods resulting from industrial activities that have no use or use. Currently, attempts are being made to promote new industrial policies that involve greater reuse of the by-products of industrial activities, with the aim that these goods that we call industrial waste are minimized as much as possible.

Types of industrial waste

Waste sorting can be a daunting task. It is essential to know perfectly the composition of the waste that is generated in order to carry out its correct management within the legal framework that is established. All types of waste have a regulated and established management, therefore, an error in their management can trigger a serious environmental accident.

There are many ways to classify industrial waste. For example, they can be classified according to their origin as urban, livestock, forestry, health, etc. However, currently the most convenient way to classify them is based on their dangerousness, since in this way the guidelines of low environmental and legal impact are set for their correct management. According to its dangerousness, the residues can be:

  • Dangerous residues
  • Non-hazardous waste

Characterization of industrial waste

The most important thing to correctly manage waste is to know its composition and to know what particular properties it presents in order to evaluate how to treat it. Many times, through the safety data sheet of the products we can know the composition of said residues. If you do not have these records, you can resort to characterizing these residues in a laboratory. The most important characterizations that must be carried out are:

  • Physicochemical characterization of the waste

Depending on the type of waste, some of the most important parameters are:

  • pH
  • % dry material
  • Content in mg/kg of dry matter of: arsenic, barium, cadmium, total chromium, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, lead, antimony, selenium, zinc, chlorides,…
  • Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC)
  • Total organic carbon (TOC)
  • BTEX
  • PCB’s
  • C10-C40 oils
  • HPA


  • Characterization Ecotoxicity of the leachate

If the waste has leachate, it must be analyzed. Some of the most important parameters of this sampling are:

  • BOD5
  • COD
  • Acidity
  • Alkalinity
  • Detergents
  • Coliforms
  • Heavy metals
  • Fats, oils…

Industrial waste management

In the event that these analyzes present any parameter that exceeds the limit established by law, treatments will have to be carried out to adapt the waste to the established limit values. If this is not possible, these residues will have to be managed as hazardous waste. If all the parameters are within the limit value, this waste can be managed as non-hazardous waste and taken to landfill. At ATRIA, we can treat this non-hazardous waste and give it a second life. We tell you an example of a project that we have carried out:

Our client wanted to determine the existing recovery routes for a sulfur residue and determine new reuse routes that do not involve the current alternative, landfill. For this, the waste produced after the process was collected at the client’s facilities. To characterize it, it is necessary to subject it to a drying process, since the water content was too high to be recovered. Subsequently, a physicochemical and ecotoxicity characterization was carried out. The different valorization routes were studied and laboratory tests were carried out. Following the results of these tests, companies from other sectors interested in buying or using the residue directly, for example, in agriculture, fertilizer manufacturing or eco-rubber manufacturing, were contacted.

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