Hazardous Waste Transporters vs Brokers

Is there a difference between a hazardous waste transporter and a hazardous waste broker?

Yes, a major difference. While hazardous waste transporters and brokers may sound similar, transporters and brokers play very different roles. 

And, knowing those roles and what they mean for your business is essential as you send hazardous materials off-site for treatment and disposal.


What’s The Difference?


Think of a hazardous waste broker as a middleman. Brokers typically don’t own a hazardous waste transportation business. They act as a middleman between the buyer, that’s you, and the transportation company. 

A hazardous waste transporter is the actual company that removes your hazardous waste off-site for treatment and disposal. The best hazardous waste disposal companies also ensure that you are meeting all local, state and federal regulations by meeting all cradle to grave requirements

Certified hazardous waste disposal companies should also make sure all of your containers are labeled properly, provide the proper training so that your business stays in compliance, and offer hazardous waste sampling and testing.


How Does a Broker Make Money?


The process typically works like this. 

  • You look for a company online to give you a quote to dispose of your hazardous waste. 
  • You find a company that seems to fit your needs and place a request for a quote. 
  • What you will likely not know is that the company you just made the request from is not a hazardous waste transportation company, but a broker. 
  • The broker receives your request and then starts calling hazardous waste transportation companies to get a price from them for your disposal. 
  • They take the quoted price and then MARK IT UP with whatever percentage they want and submit the quote to you for approval.
broker vs transportation


So What’s Wrong With This Process?


The most obvious issue is that you are likely going to pay a lot more to dispose of your hazardous waste. If you had gone directly to the hazardous waste transportation company, you would have received the best possible price without incurring the broker’s mark up.

However, there are other problems with this type of service. 

How do you know the company that the broker is using to dispose of your hazardous waste is a licensed transportation company with the appropriate insurances? 

The simple answer is...you don’t. 

By using a broker, you run the risk of it using an unlicensed transportation company. And, the risk to your business as a result of something going wrong is enormous. 

You have likely heard of the mantra, “Cradle to Grave.” You are responsible for the hazardous waste you generate from the time you produce the waste to the time it is disposed of. 

What if the company that the broker is using takes your waste to an abandoned warehouse and dumps it there? Your company would be responsible for the cleanup, disposal of the waste a second time and, more importantly, heavy fines from OSHA, the DTSC and possibly a number of other agencies like the US DOT.

While this may seem like a far-fetched idea that something like this could happen, just look at how many times the DTSC has fined companies for trying to dispose of their waste in illegal ways.


Is Using A Broker Worth The Risk?


hazardous waste transporters vs brokersWhen you ponder the possible legal ramifications of putting your trust in a person or company that is not licensed or has the necessary insurance to cover your business if something goes wrong, the answer is pretty straight forward. 

Disposal costs are likely going to be much higher when you use a broker, so why would you use a middleman when you can go directly to a legitimate disposal company and get the best result at a better price?

Using a broker to facilitate the transportation of your hazardous waste opens your company up to the risk that the cradle to grave will be broken, exposing your company to substantial fines and irreparable damage to your company’s reputation. It’s simply not good business sense.


How Can You Tell A Broker From A Legitimate Transportation Company?


One of the easiest easy to tell whether a transportation company is legitimate is if it has a physical location on its website. Many brokers, like Hazardous Waste Experts and Clean Management Environmental Group, Inc., only provide a phone number because they are not legitimate transportation companies. 

Ask them if they are a broker. You’ll likely be given a sales pitch, but at least you’ll know who you are dealing with. 

Ask for insurance information like workers compensation and general liability. If a company says it will get it from the disposal company later, buyer beware!

Make sure you get proper manifest system information along the entire process of your disposal as well … especially the returned manifest copy signed by the treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF) company.


Do You Need A Middleman?


If you are buying health insurance or car insurance, using a middleman is often your only option. This type of system is set up for private insurance brokers to handle your insurance needs. Insurance brokers must be licensed by their respective states to conduct business and sell you insurance.

Hazardous waste brokers do not need any qualifications to sell you disposal services. For all you know, these brokerage type businesses could be call centers handling calls and processing orders.

By using a legitimate hazardous waste transportation company, you’ll likely get a better price than from a broker and you’ll have the peace of mind that your business is covered if something goes wrong.


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