APP Port Members who have signed on to the Green Marine program will be familiar with the requirements in Level 3 of the Spill Prevention and Stormwater Management section that call for the use of readily biodegradable, non-toxic and non-bioaccumulative lubricants for all portable, mobile and fixed hydraulic equipment operated near the shore. To satisfy that requirement, many ports, terminals, and marine businesses are turning to products such as Panolin, G2F Filtration Systems, Coconut shell absorbents, BNAC ECO industrial cleaners, and a host of other industrial products that provide an alternative to the toxic and corrosive products of the past. APP turned to BNAC Environmental Solutions to learn more.

“For many years now, the US Environmental Protection Agency has called for the use of Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants in all applications with oil-to-sea equipment,” said Chris Richardson, CEO and founder of BNAC. “More recently, the Canadian government has publicly recognized the benefits of Green Marine standards, including the use of bio-products. Not just for the marine environment but also for industries such as mining, rail, and energy / hydropower, as well as activities like drilling and dredging.” With over 15 years of experience in developing environmentally friendly lubricants, cleaners, and solvents, Richardson’s knowledge is undisputed.

Looking first at the types of products that are used for hydraulic equipment, Richardson noted that it was important to choose a fluid that could be fully biodegradable by soil or water micro-organisms while still ensuring effective performance of the equipment. “We recommend Panolin for this type of use,” Richardson said. “Equipment such as cranes, container handlers, reach stackers and high-capacity forklifts will require a fluid that preserves the integrity and longevity of the machine but, in case of a spill or drippage that ends up in the water or on land, will have no impact.”

As an example, Richardson described the work of Kiewit Corporation, the engineering and construction company in charge of, among other projects, the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion. “Panolin is the bio-oil of choice for Kiewet. Given the strong environmental standards set by Trans Mountain and the need for a high-performance lubricant that can hold up to the demands of the equipment, they have been using it for many years to their great satisfaction.” He added that, because of the longevity of the project, one of their key requirements was a product that would last and would have a wide operating temperature range — a feature that Panolin is particularly proud of and regularly promotes.

The secret to the superiority of Panolin is in its make-up. While many other manufacturers base their biodegradable lubricants on vegetable oils, Panolin uses a saturated synthetic ester base. “Of the lubricants available on the market today, Panolin is the well-established leader,” said Richardson. “It meets the international standards set by the OECD, EPA, the EU Ecolabel, and both the German (Blauer Engel) and Dutch Environmental Agencies as well as a number of other international guidelines. But perhaps the biggest reason that Panolin is so popular is its certified “Readily Biodegradable” should a spill occur.” He explained that the non-toxic lubricant, while having no impact on fish and wildlife, will degrade by an average of 60 percent in 28 days and will continue to degrade beyond that with no bioaccumulation.

Raising the issue of spills, Richardson related an experience of one of customers: “They called and asked for a product that would assist them in cleaning up an accidental spill of Panolin on land. We sent them BNAC’s recycled absorbent pads and BNAC’s Coco Shell absorbent powder, which is made with ground coconut husks which is very effective in absorbing all lubricants in varying viscosities. After they had cleaned the spill, they were able to simply discard the pads into the regular waste stream — if it is not toxic, its garbage. They had about 50 green garbage bags that would otherwise been transported to a hazardous waste site in Alberta at a cost of about $100 per bag.” He added that the coconut husks used to go directly to the waste stream but now are repurposed, and that contributing to overall environmental sustainability.

Richardson also described other industrial products that were providing effective solutions for those in port, terminal, and other settings. For example, BNAC’s extensive line of heavy-duty cleaners offer superior cleaning using alternative chemistry, without sacrificing strength. Formulated to quickly dissolve carbons, oils, grease, algae, inks and pigments, Richardson noted that their non-toxic glass cleaner was being used to replace another product that explicitly stated on its safety data sheet that it would “cause cancer and deteriorate the ear cartilage”.

Another product that is proving hugely successful is BNAC’s STR Solvent Tank Replace, a non-toxic, no VOC water-based solvent product. Seaspan helped BNAC develop this clean solution. Seaspan recognized the zero-waste benefit of STR as they have never required to dump the solution. They found that skimming the oil off the surface and recycling, and then every one or two years removing sludge from the bottom of the solvent tank, kept it working as new with the exception of adding product due to drag out. “It’s extremely cost-effective when you factor in the labor cost savings and contribution to zero-waste requirements,” said Richardson. “An added benefit was not having to transport solvent as a dangerous good to and from their sites. STR does not use enzymes with are costly to maintain, require specialized equipment and filtration, and is susceptible to temperature change and pollutants.”

In addition to the examples already cited, Richardson noted that the list of industries and companies using bio-products continued to grow at exponential rates. “We’re seeing growth by ports and terminals and the marine industry in general who are following standards set within the Green Marine certification program, but we’re also seeing growth in the power generation industry, rail and transportation sectors, as well as mining operations, and even municipalities. Bio-products have evolved so much over the last two decades that there’s really no reason to be using toxic and environmentally harmful products.”