The push to regulate PVC, as hazardous waste, could significantly impact disposal requirements.
After a nearly decade-long battle with environmentalists, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now assessing whether polyvinyl chloride constitutes hazardous waste under federal law.
The agreement is in response to a 2021 lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, which argues that the EPA should regulate PVC as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The organization says studies show that PVC damages the environment. This type of plastic is often used in toys, medical equipment and construction materials.
Suppose the EPA determines that PVC should fall under hazardous waste laws. In that case, it’s likely many companies and industries will need to update their waste management plans to include procedures for safely and legally disposing of this type of plastic. According to the agreement, a decision is expected later this year or in early 2023.
Industries That Could Be Impacted
PVC is widely used across several sectors, including:
- Building and construction
- Packaging companies
- Health care
This type of plastic is popular because of the various benefits it offers, including lightweight, high mechanical strength, resistance to abrasions and toughness. PVC can be rigid, making it a good choice for the manufacturing of plastic bottles, pipes and construction materials. It can also be flexible, which is why it’s an often go-to choice for electrical cable insulation, plumbing, medical equipment and signage.
In the medical industry alone, PVC material is used for storing IV fluids, dialysis solutions and blood products. This type of plastic is also used to create tubing, respiratory therapy products, inflatable splints and catheters.
PVC floors and wall coverings are also often found in medical facilities because they can be easily cleaned and disinfected.
For facilities like hospitals that already have medical waste disposal plans in place, new regulations could mean adding another waste stream to their hazardous waste management plans.
Other industries, such as children’s toymakers, could find themselves dealing with hazardous waste laws for the first time.
How A Waste Disposal Company Can Help
If you’re a company that currently manufactures products that contain PVC or regularly uses PVC as part of your operations, it’s important to start getting prepared for any upcoming changes in waste disposal requirements.
Environmental laws are constantly evolving, and this is just one of many that could be on the horizon. Keeping on top of changing regulations is critical to protecting both the environment and your business or organization.
Working with certified hazardous waste disposal companies can help to ensure you are meeting all current AND future regulations. The best waste disposal companies monitor pending legislation and prepare for how these laws will impact your specific business or organization.
This knowledge allows you to begin planning now, putting your company in a position to update your waste management practices proactively so that you aren’t scrambling at the last minute to secure proper waste disposal.
What A Waste Disposal Company Should Offer
When searching for waste disposal services, it’s important to connect with a company that is experienced in the type of waste you generate. There are many types of hazardous waste, and the addition of PVC as a hazardous waste stream will add one more to a growing list.
Only certain facilities accept laboratory waste and electronic waste, and it’s likely the same will happen with PVC waste if the EPA designates it as hazardous. The best disposal companies are familiar with Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDF) and what each accepts. Disposal companies may even transport waste out of the state if necessary to the proper TSDF.
During times of uncertainty, the best disposal companies will also offer the ability to identify waste streams through profiling and testing, as well as a walk-through program to evaluate your waste procedures. This program is consultative in nature and is critically important as laws are changing since an evaluation can help you better understand how any upcoming legislation may impact your waste procedures.
Other services that hazardous waste disposal companies offer include:
- Transportation of your waste to the proper recycling and disposal sites
- Evidence that your waste has been properly disposed of
- Provided documentation that is required for transport, such as manifests
- Evaluation of storage on-site
These latest developments between the EPA and environmentalists advocating for PVC to be mandated under hazardous waste laws are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to regulations. California has some of the strictest environmental laws on the books, and it’s likely these laws will continue to evolve at the state and federal levels in the coming years.
A hazardous waste disposal company will help your business or organization ensure you are on top of these changing regulations and put you in the best position to adapt your waste management plan.