(324e) Sustainability Assessment and Performance Improvement of Electroplating Systems
The surface finishing industry in general, the electroplating industry in particular, is one of the most polluted industries in the U.S. In electroplating systems, various types of chemical solvents and plating solutions are always unnecessarily consumed; process wastewater frequently contains high concentrations of chemicals and metals that are dragged out from the cleaning and plating steps; different types of toxic or hazardous chemicals may enter the working environment through emission; and energy consumption for process heating and ventilation are excessive. While the economic, environmental, and societal performance of the industry has been significantly improved over the past two decades, the industry is still significantly challenged and is seeking sustainable development pathways.
Different from the chemical, petrochemical, automotive and many other industries, the surface finishing industry does not have its own development roadmap. As the first step, the sustainability performance of an industry should be assessed. However, there exists no sustainability metrics system in general. In this study, we propose three sets of sustainability indicators to assess electroplating system’s economic, environmental, and social sustainability. We then introduce a systematic sustainability assessment method to quantify sustainability performance, and a method to prioritize improvement measures. The applicability of the metrics system and the efficacy of the sustainability assessment and improvement methods will be demonstrated through two industrial case studies.