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The technology of managing the "three wastes" is feasible for API production enterprises, but the reasons for failing to meet the standards are complicated and the cost is high

Writer: SEKSUN Release date:2022-08-02 View:72

How much can the environmental performance of pharmaceutical companies be scored? At the end of 2013, the Ministry of Environmental Protection organized various environmental protection inspection centers to supervise the investigation and rectification of 13 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities with relatively concentrated pharmaceutical manufacturing enterprises, and conducted spot checks on some fermentation and chemical synthesis pharmaceutical manufacturing enterprises. . Among the 178 pharmaceutical manufacturing enterprises and 7 centralized sewage treatment facilities in pharmaceutical manufacturing parks inspected, 18 have serious environmental violations, and there are 40 environmental violations in total. The problem of excessive discharge of "three wastes" is serious.


How did pharmaceutical companies become households with difficulties in pollution control? Is it really difficult to meet emission standards? At the first China International Pharmaceutical Industry Environmental Protection Development Forum held recently, people from all walks of life from the government, associations and enterprises discussed the environmental problems faced by pharmaceutical companies.


API companies are the most polluted areas


From the point of view of operation, solving environmental problems is to avoid the biggest risk of enterprise operation


Pharmaceutical companies are frequently exposed due to excessive discharge of pollutants. The Ministry of Environmental Protection has listed the pharmaceutical industry as one of the 12 key monitoring industries.


China is a big country in medicine, and pharmaceutical production enterprises are located in 29 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions across the country. The industrial output value created by the pharmaceutical industry accounts for 2.1% of the country's total industrial output value, while its wastewater discharge and COD discharge account for about 3% of the country's industrial discharge.


"In 2014, there were 4,001 national key monitoring enterprises for waste water, including 118 pharmaceutical manufacturing enterprises, accounting for about 2.9%; 3,865 national key monitoring enterprises for waste gas, including 16 pharmaceutical manufacturing enterprises, accounting for about 0.4%." China Chemical Pharmaceutical Industry Zhang Mingyu, senior vice president of the association, said.


China is a major producer of chemical raw materials, especially the production capacity of fermented pharmaceutical products ranks first in the world. As the upstream product of the entire pharmaceutical industry chain, APIs have low added value and excess capacity, especially the rising prices of raw materials and energy resources, large investment in pollution control and high operating costs, resulting in soaring costs, which have become a bottleneck for development.


In 2013, there were 7,232 enterprises with pharmaceutical production licenses in my country, including 1,556 chemical raw material pharmaceutical enterprises and 2,841 chemical pharmaceutical preparation enterprises. Whether it is the number of enterprises or the main business income of the industry, these two sub-sectors account for a large proportion. From the previous analysis and survey, the pollution load of these two sub-sectors accounts for about 80% of the entire industry, and the pollution load of chemical raw materials accounts for the vast majority. Undoubtedly, the manufacture of chemical raw materials is the focus of environmental protection work in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.


In 2010, the Ministry of Environmental Protection released the first national pollution source census announcement. Among the industries, the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry ranks among the top seven in chemical oxygen demand emissions, and the pharmaceutical industry is an industry subject to key monitoring. Therefore, it is urgent for pharmaceutical companies to improve the utilization rate of resources and energy and reduce the emission of pollutants.


In addition, relevant departments have formulated a series of regulations, standards and incentive policies to standardize and guide the rational development of pharmaceutical companies, making the environmental protection threshold of the pharmaceutical industry increasingly higher. In 2010, the "Pharmaceutical Industry Water Pollution Discharge Standard" was promulgated and implemented. This is the first time that my country has formulated an industry standard for pharmaceutical wastewater, and the standard strictness is basically the same as that of developed countries. This standard forms a rigid constraint on the pharmaceutical industry, which greatly increases the environmental protection cost of the pharmaceutical industry.


The newly revised "Environmental Protection Law" strengthens the responsibility of enterprises for pollution prevention and control, and increases legal sanctions for environmental violations, making the pharmaceutical industry face a more stringent legal environment.


"In fact, from the point of view of business operation, solving environmental problems is to avoid the biggest risk of business operation, thereby improving survivability. Therefore, improving pollution prevention and control capabilities and reducing production costs will become the core competitiveness of pharmaceutical companies in the future." Yu Yuefeng, vice president of the China Environmental Protection Industry Association, believes that.


High material consumption increases environmental burden


Long process route, high energy consumption and low output, overcapacity and high equipment idle rate


The production process of chemical raw materials generally uses chemical synthesis technology and biological fermentation technology. Chemical synthesis technology is further divided into total synthesis and semi-synthesis technology; bio-fermentation pharmaceutical technology is produced by using microbial technology through a new highly engineered comprehensive technology, which is usually called fermentation technology in medicine and pharmaceuticals, such as penicillin , The production of oxytetracycline is a fermentation process.


Zhang Daoxin, an environmental protection project expert from China Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industry Association, said: "A long process route and many reaction steps are a major feature of chemical API production." There are many types of raw materials, some of which are hazardous chemicals. The quality and quantity of a single type of material is relatively small, and the conversion rate of the input material to the finished product is low. Due to the low conversion rate, the characteristics of biological toxicity, and the small quantity of the input single type of material, the single waste in the waste is The economic rate of recycling of waste is not high, and it is difficult to realize the recycling of waste, and generally it can only be treated as waste.


Taking vitamin C as an example, its output rate is 14%. Based on this ratio, the annual output of the country in 2012 is 200,000 tons, and 1.43 million tons of raw and auxiliary materials need to be input. Except for the 200,000 tons converted into finished products, the remaining 1.23 million tons of materials All become waste and become the burden of environmental governance.


"High energy consumption and large water consumption are also one of the characteristics of chemical API production." Zhang Daoxin said that chemical raw material manufacturers are generally large energy and water consumption households. According to the survey data, the largest water consumption per unit product is lincomycin hydrochloride, which consumes 3,614 tons of water per ton of product.


"In addition, the problem of overcapacity is also very serious, and the idle rate of production facilities is high. However, at the same time, the repetitive construction of expanding production capacity is still enthusiastic, and it is transferring to areas with fragile environments." Zhang Daoxin said, according to the pharmaceutical industry in 2013 The survey results show that the total production capacity of 10 key penicillin industrial salt production enterprises is 147,500 tons, the actual output is 33,900 tons, and the production capacity utilization rate is 22.98%; The capacity utilization rate is 33.63%; the two erythromycin thiocyanate production enterprises have a production capacity of 14,800 tons, the actual output is 2,800 tons, and the production capacity utilization rate is only 18.92%.


Existing technology is enough to solve the "three wastes" problem


However, the cost of wastewater treatment is high, and it is imperative to implement cleaner production.


The pollutants generated in the production process of chemical raw materials are mainly waste water, waste gas, solid waste and noise. Among them, production wastewater mainly comes from process wastewater and clean-up wastewater. The National Chemical Synthesis Pharmaceutical Industry Wastewater Pollutant Discharge Standard stipulates the discharge limits of 25 pollutants such as pH value, chromaticity, suspended solids, BOD5, etc. Some local standards list more than 60 items. In fact, wastewater pollutants Factors are much more than that.


According to Qi Guorui, vice president of Beijing Xiaoqing Environmental Protection Group, from the perspective of wastewater treatment, pharmaceutical wastewater has very complex pollution components and a certain degree of biological heterogeneity. Some wastewater is difficult to degrade, has high organic content, and high TDS content in wastewater. Overall governance is difficult.


In pharmaceutical enterprises, the heavy pollution control task has also created a pollution control team, which makes the pollution control of enterprises tend to be specialized, and some enterprises also provide services to the society with their surplus control capabilities. For example, North China Pharmaceutical Group, Shandong Xinhua Pharmaceutical Group, Shandong Lukang Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and other enterprises provide social services to the society, and have achieved good environmental, social and economic benefits. On the whole, chemical drug production enterprises have carried out treatment of various pollutants caused by enterprises, and the existing pollution control technology can meet the needs of discharge standards.


"At present, the idea of treating pharmaceutical wastewater is mainly based on biological methods, combined with other methods." Qi Guorui said. Xiaoqing Environmental Protection once undertook the wastewater treatment project of Harbin Pharmaceutical Group. At that time, Harbin Pharmaceutical Group’s wastewater volume was about 20,000 cubic meters per day. There were two streams of wastewater with medium concentration and high concentration. After mixing, COD reached 5000mg/L and BOD reached 2500mg/L , SS is about 500mg/L, but the sulfate concentration is very high, reaching 3800mg/L. "Sulfate in wastewater has a great impact on anaerobicity, especially methanogens." Qi Guorui said that the effluent requirements for the contract signed by Xiaoqing Environmental Protection and Harbin Pharmaceutical Group at that time were COD reaching 300mg/L, BOD less than 60mg/L, and SS less than 150mg/L.


In response to these situations, the main process used in the project is ECHAP hydrolysis and acidification + dissolved air flotation + CASS, which firstly improves biochemical properties, removes a large amount of SS, and finally enters CASS to remove more suspended solids and ammonia nitrogen. "In actual operation, COD can be stably controlled between 210mg/L and 260mg/L. Other indicators also meet the requirements of the contract." Qi Guorui said.


It can be seen that the existing wastewater treatment technology can handle the treatment of pharmaceutical wastewater, including biological toxic substances that are difficult to treat in wastewater. The test of the acute toxicity of the effluent from the actual treatment units of many enterprises shows that the treatment process of the wastewater of most pharmaceutical enterprises can effectively remove the acute toxicity through the biological treatment process. However, it cannot be ignored that due to the large number of processing steps, high energy consumption, and large use of water treatment chemicals, the treatment cost per ton of wastewater reaches 10 to 50 yuan, and some are even higher.


However, the discharge standards of industrial wastewater are becoming more and more stringent, which will further increase the cost of pollution control.


It is imperative to change the development mode of high pollution of raw materials, change the production method of the whole process, and implement cleaner production and energy saving and emission reduction. Enterprises start from the source of production, conduct audit and research on the whole process, and implement cleaner production to reduce the end processing load and reduce the cost of pollution treatment.


Taking Hualuan Co., Ltd. of North China Pharmaceutical Group as an example, it launched a new round of clean production in March 2012, achieving an annual economic benefit of 34.208 billion yuan, saving 266,600 tons of water, 60,900 kWh of electricity, and 7,775 tons of steam. , saving 319.82 tons of hydrochloric acid, 469,900 tons of alkali, 2,331,700 tons of oxygen, and 37,500 tons of waste water discharge, with obvious environmental and economic benefits.


Why is there an over-standard problem?


Businesses frequently change products and output, resulting in changes in wastewater quality and quantity


Although the company has invested a lot of money in the treatment of wastewater, the phenomenon of exceeding the standard still occurs from time to time. Zhang Daoxin analyzed that the reasons are as follows.


First, the company often changes products and output, resulting in changes in the quality and quantity of wastewater, which exceeds the carrying capacity of wastewater treatment, resulting in excessive discharge;


Second, the construction of the emergency treatment capacity of the enterprise is insufficient. For example, in the event of an accident such as infection, the water treatment facilities will be greatly impacted, exceeding the carrying capacity of the system, resulting in excessive discharge;


Third, the information communication between the production management and the pollution management department is poor, and the change of the production variety cannot be communicated to the pollution control management department in a timely manner, so that the opportunity to adjust the operating parameters is lost, resulting in substandard treatment;


Fourth, inappropriate use of wastewater treatment facilities. Some enterprises use the wastewater treatment facilities as garbage stations, and discharge the waste that should be collected and processed separately into the wastewater treatment system, which exceeds the carrying capacity of the wastewater treatment system and the problem of substandard treatment occurs;


Fifth, in the design of wastewater treatment facilities, there is a lack of sufficient research on the quality, quantity, discharge rules and possible changes of the wastewater, especially the possible biological toxicity of the complex components contained in pharmaceutical wastewater, and the load caused by product changes. Insufficient understanding of changes has led to congenital deficiencies in design.


In addition, there are also situations in which individual companies are unable to support high pollution control operating costs rather than normal operation of pollution control facilities due to their meager profits.


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