Laboratory waste management can mean complicated challenges that often require multiple solutions to ensure your system runs effectively and efficiently. Yet with a few tweaks in your journey, you can improve how your lab’s waste is managed, from the moment the waste is generated to the moment it is disposed of.
How can you improve your laboratory waste management? By doing 3 things:
Minimizing the amount of waste produced in your laboratory can help you get a better handle on your waste management while promoting safer working conditions. After all, less waste can lead to safer laboratory conditions by reducing how often lab workers are exposed to potentially toxic chemicals.
Minimizing waste can also reduce disposal costs since less waste is handled and transported.
But how do laboratories minimize the amount of waste they produce?
If your business operates a laboratory and under California law must have a Hazardous Materials Business Plan (HMBP), it is important to ensure your plan is regularly updated.
The HMBP is an important document that contains information about hazardous materials used on site at a facility. In California, some companies are required to create this type of business plan, depending on the amount or type of hazardous waste on the facility’s premises.
The purpose of this business plan is to provide important information about hazardous materials onsite to first responders when there is a threat to public health and the environment. It also satisfies federal and state Community Right-to-Know Act laws that require industries to report on the storage and use of hazardous materials.
It is important to know, first, whether your laboratory is required to complete a HMBP. In California, you must have this plan if your lab handles these amounts of hazardous materials over the course of a year:
If your lab also handles materials that are considered to be “extremely hazardous substances” under Section 355.61 of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, it must also create a HMBP.
There are two important notes to keep in mind:
Whether you are required to have a Hazardous Materials Business Plan or not, it is always important to make sure you have pertinent health and safety information on hand. This includes items like Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for each chemical you use, information on how to contact hazmat emergency response teams and contingency plans should an emergency occur.
Choosing a company that has experience in safely disposing of laboratory waste is critical, especially because lab waste can come from a variety of sources, from hospitals to research facilities, private laboratories and other healthcare facilities. Waste can also range from hazardous to non hazardous, making it difficult to distinguish what should go where.
Selecting a vendor isn’t as simple as randomly picking one you find online, however. Careful consideration must be given to the vendor you choose, since ultimately, you are the one who is responsible for meeting any cradle to grave requirements. In other words, you are responsible for hazardous laboratory waste from its initial generation to its final disposal, according to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
So what should you look for in a laboratory waste management company? In addition to experience, look for a vendor that:
Remember, the best vendor isn’t always the least expensive one. Trading efficiency for the sake of a few bucks can have disastrous consequences, costing you more in the long run when you run into liability issues associated with improper waste disposal.
Choosing a reputable waste disposal company, on the other hand, will give you confidence that your lab waste is being handled and disposed of safely and according to the law.