It can be tempting to hold onto your hazardous waste as you weather the storm of uncertainty that COVID-19 is bringing across several industries.
Any type of hazardous waste removal comes with a financial cost, and with a lot of businesses facing unpredictability over the next few months, there may be a temptation to hold on to your hazardous waste until business operations resume as normal.
Doing so, however, can create more problems on the backend of your operations and cost you more in the long run. This is true of any manufacturing shutdown … COVID-19-related or not.
If your business is generating hazardous waste or you are currently storing waste on site, it is to your benefit to have it removed now rather than wait … no matter if it is a small or large amount.
You’re Increasing Your Risks
Any time you store hazardous waste on site, you face several inherent risks. As a hazardous waste generator, you must satisfy safety, environmental and regulatory guidelines. These guidelines often regulate how much waste you can store and the manner by which you store the waste.
If your company generates a significant amount of hazardous waste, and you wait to dispose of it, you may find yourself with more waste than is legally allowed … or not enough space to store it.
In 2019, Tesla was fined for storing some of its hazardous waste outside. The company allegedly did not obtain the necessary building permit or properly inspect the tent for safety violations.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it may take longer to get the necessary permits and inspections to store additional hazardous waste containers in other parts of your facility, leaving you scrambling at the last minute to find a way to properly - and legally - store your abundance of waste.
Even if your company does not generate a significant amount of hazardous waste, you may find yourself in a new position, storing more hazardous waste than your employees are accustomed to handling. Or, you may find yourself storing waste longer than what is legally allowed.
This can put your employees and company at risk since greater amounts of hazardous materials can increase the likelihood for spills, fires and even explosions to occur. Improper storage, no matter the circumstances that led to it, may also lead to costly fines that most companies simply cannot afford. We are waiting to see how this plays out during Covid-19 lockdowns.
Scheduling Could Become Problematic
Even if you have a sound storage plan in place for your hazardous waste, and are still sitting on the fence on whether you should dispose of it now or wait, consider this. If you wait for things to go back to normal, you’re likely not the only one with the same plan.
Just as you go to schedule a hazardous waste pick up with a disposal company, it’s likely others will be doing the same thing. The best disposal companies offer prompt pickup, but if the demand for hazardous waste removal is high, all disposal companies are going to be busier than usual.
That means you’ll likely be scrambling to find a disposal company available to transport your waste, and even once you secure one, you’ll likely have to wait longer than you normally would. Not removing your hazardous waste now may also cause a disruption in your operations since you may not be able to generate any additional hazardous waste until the waste you have currently is removed.
You Could Face A Supply And Demand Nightmare
While you may be able to secure a pick up with a hazardous waste disposal company, it may come at a cost.
With classic supply and demand circumstances in play, the demand for service may create a shortage of supply. And that shortage of disposal companies available to your company may increase the costs of their services.
This is true of any shutdown. If your company is about to have a scheduled shutdown, it’s important to ensure prompt pickup of hazardous waste is available when you need it so you aren’t faced with resuming hazardous waste collection during an unanticipated busy period.
Who To Call
If you find yourself quickly moving to secure a hazardous waste vendor before a shutdown, what should you look for?
- Price: While cost is always a consideration, especially during uncertain times, the best vendor isn’t necessarily the least expensive one. Keep in mind that the old saying, “If it is too good to be true, it probably is.”
- Experience: Ensure that the vendor is experienced in the type of hazardous waste you produce. In California, hazardous waste tends to be more regulated than in other states. This is especially true when it comes to types of waste like e-waste. Each type of hazardous waste has its own set of regulations, so make sure the company you partner with is well versed in your type of waste.
- References: Never hesitate to check references, whether they’re from other companies similar to yours or financial references (Dun & Bradstreet report, bank letter of credit, etc.).
- Credentials: In addition to ensuring a hazardous waste disposal company is licensed, make sure it is insured (both business liability and workers compensation insurance).
Any period of uncertainty can be stressful for a company, but sitting on your hazardous waste can end up causing more stress - and higher costs - in the long-run. Securing a trustful and experienced vendor now can help alleviate some of this stress and ensure you are able to resume business as usual when the time comes.