In the world of hazardous waste management, businesses often find themselves navigating a complex web of regulations and guidelines. Each type of waste seems entangled in a maze of requirements, making it challenging to determine the right path for disposal.
It’s as if manufacturers, healthcare facilities, automotive and other industries that generate waste as a byproduct of their operations must carefully maneuver through a delicate spider web, trying not to get caught in the consequences of improper handling.
To untangle this web of uncertainty, businesses must patiently learn the threads that connect them to proper waste disposal destinations. With careful research, classification and a keen eye on environmental considerations, they can gradually find their way through this intricate web.
But is there a right place to start to determine where to dispose of each type of waste your company generates?
How To Determine Where Each Waste Goes
Businesses often determine how to dispose of different types of waste through a combination of legal requirements, industry best practices, waste management guidelines and environmental considerations. Your sources for information in this area of waste management often comes from a variety of places and methods:
Businesses must adhere to local, regional and national waste disposal regulations. Governments set guidelines for the proper handling and disposal of various types of waste, including hazardous materials, electronic waste, biohazardous waste and more.
Companies need to be aware of these regulations and ensure they are in compliance to avoid fines and legal consequences. Governing bodies that include the following are going to be among your best sources of information when understanding regulatory compliance of your waste in California:
- California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)
- The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)
- California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA)
- U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT)
- The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
Before disposing of waste, businesses need to determine the type and nature of the waste they generate. This is especially important for identifying hazardous waste, but also can be important for identifying non-hazardous waste, since this can save your business money in disposal costs.
Profiling and testing your waste streams will help you identify uncertain wastes, which will help you determine the right treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF) to receive your waste.
Conducting a waste audit of your streams can also help you assess the amount and types of waste that you generate. By analyzing your waste streams, you can identify opportunities for waste reduction, recycling or finding more environmentally-friendly disposal methods.
An audit may include processes like using weight scales or volume measurements to quantify the amount of waste generated over a specified period, or analyzing waste data to identify patterns, trends and waste generation hotspots.
Recycling programs that specialize in processing and reusing specific materials like paper, plastics, glass and metals can be a great source for helping you determine where your waste should go. Nearly all businesses generate materials that can be recycled, whether it’s during the production process or on the office side of operations.
Local Public Resources
Local government agencies and environmental organizations can provide resources and information on nearby waste disposal options for businesses. They may offer guidance on local recycling centers, hazardous waste drop-off locations and other disposal facilities.
There are various drop-off facilities throughout the state for waste including medical waste, electronic waste and more. However, commercial hazardous waste disposal may have different requirements than residential waste disposal when it comes to who can use these drop-off sites and how much waste is allowed to be disposed of at these sites.
Waste Management Companies
Many businesses contract with waste management companies that specialize in handling either specific types of waste or a variety of waste types. These companies have expertise in dealing with different waste streams and ensuring proper disposal according to legal requirements and environmental standards.
It’s important to seek the advice of experienced waste management companies, especially if your business generates hazardous waste such as chemicals, electronic waste, medical waste and other toxic substances that require special handling and disposal due to their potential harm to the environment and human health.
In the next section, we’ll dive into what to look for in the best waste management companies, and how they can help you determine where your waste should go to keep you in compliance.
A Top Source Of Waste Information
Waste management companies are an invaluable resource of information when it comes to guiding businesses through waste disposal processes. However, entrusting your business with waste management companies requires ensuring they have the experience and proper certifications or licenses.
Here are some tips to help you find the right waste disposal company for your business.
Know the type of vendor you need. You’ll need to ensure that the vendor you choose has the ability to transport the hazardous waste you generate. Though manufacturing industries are probably the most recognizable that produce hazardous waste, many other industries do as well, including medical/pharmaceutical, government, education, construction, furniture manufacturing, railroad transportation and printing.
Check credentials. The hazardous waste disposal company you work with must be licensed and regulated. Check to ensure a disposal company is registered using the California Department of Toxic Substances Control’s Registered Hazardous Waste Transporter Database. The database also provides information about when the transporter’s registration expires, its registration number and its location. A hazardous waste transporter registration is valid for only one year, so it’s a good idea to conduct annual environmental audits of vendors handling your hazardous waste.
Ask the right questions. You should interview a potential partner just like how you would with a potential employee. Questions should revolve around asking for information about licenses and permits the company holds, documentation of compliance history, proof of being financially sound (Dun & Bradstreet report, bank letter of credit, etc.), a statement of qualifications (SOQ) and whether the company uses subcontractors.
Look for companies that evaluate your streams. This service not only helps you identify unknown wastes through sampling and testing, but also can determine if the waste could be reclassified as non-hazardous money … saving you money on the disposal fees.
Check into site-specific plans. Every company’s waste management needs are different. The best waste disposal companies will develop site-specific plans that include not only waste management, but training and emergency preparation as well.
Request a free quote. Your budget matters, and it’s important to work with a disposal partner that will work with your budget and be upfront with you about disposal costs. No one likes to be surprised by hidden disposal fees. Transparency in pricing and service offerings is important in a partner, and your company should have a clear understanding of what services are included, any additional charges and an overall cost breakdown.