Aeronautics firm radically cuts waste and saves resources

© migrean, image #131122549, 2018, source:


Waste Materials Water Air Substances
Manufacture and repair of metal products, machinery and equipment
Cost savings:
€ 129 000 per year; lower costs related to material consumption and waste management
Payback time:
Savings related to dirty water generation and management
Size of company:
Large (more than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:

Well-grounded waste reduction 

  • Company cuts material consumption and waste by installing an evaporator
  • Adjusting its purchasing policies and procedures and other good practices also saves resources

AERNNOVA is a leading aerostructures company specialising in the design and manufacturing of aeronautics components, such as wings and fuselage sections.

The company looked into measures to improve resource efficiency and reduce waste generation during manufacturing. Adhesives and sealants used to make the fuselage parts are polymers mixed on-site. It is a time-critical process and unused mixer ends up as waste. It also produces contaminated packaging. Cleaning the aeronautic pieces leads to hazardous waste-water. The painting and varnishing processes also generate toxic waste.

The review led to some modifications in the company's purchasing policies and procedures; principally checking product consumption to optimise purchasing, storage and availability in line with production peaks, and adjusting purchasing and storage policies accordingly to avoid spoilage.

Specific measures to reduce waste due to expired sealants included:

  • Centralising sealant purchasing and distribution
  • Quantifying the use and amount of sealants for different production jobs so sufficient is in stock and ready just in time for the job
  • Adopting a first expires, first out (FEFO) stock policy
  • Mixing the parts using a controlled Semkit system

AERNNOVA also adopted some changes in its management of paints, introduced a TUK system for monodose mixtures for retouching, installed an evaporator to reduce dirty water collecting in a ditch, reduced paint and varnish waste using a solvent distiller, and by optimising the mixtures preparation and raising awareness among staff. The company also reduced contaminated packaging by reusing sealant cartridges, using reusable packaging for the reagents and reducing the packaging size.

Key results

Altogether, AERNNOVA managed to reduce hazardous waste by 178 000 kilos a year, saving € 100 000 in materials and € 29 000 in waste management:

  • Expired sealants: 99 % (10 000 kg/year) expired waste reduction, € 50 000 per year consumption savings and € 3 000 per year waste management savings
  • Expired paint: 99 % (7 000 kg/year) expired waste reduction, € 35 000 per year consumption savings and € 2 000 per year waste management savings
  • Dirty water: 93 % (119 000 kg/year) waste reduction and € 16 000 per year savings
  • Paint and varnish: 82 % (9 000 kg/year) waste reduction, € 15 000 per year consumption savings and € 2 000 per year waste management savings
  • Contaminated cloths: 73 % (25 000 kg/year) waste reduction and € 5 000 per year savings
  • Contaminated packaging: 66 % (8 000 kg/year) waste reduction and € 1 000 per year savings

The company reduced its overall environmental impact related to the manufacture of petrochemicals, and reduced leak and spill risks related to the storage of liquid materials. In the workshops, it also cut volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions related to additive and sealant handling, and improved its overall handling of hazardous chemicals.

Ihobe (2018). First results report from the studies of hazardous waste minimization in the Basque Country,

Company website,

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