Whether waste is hazardous or non hazardous isn’t always clear.
While regulatory bodies have guidelines in place that help waste generators determine whether their waste is hazardous or non hazardous, often those guidelines are gray depending on factors like where your business is located and the quantity of your waste.
If you’re trying to determine whether your waste is a threat to human health, here are some of the differences between hazardous and non hazardous waste, as well as how a disposal company can help you determine what the next course of action should be for your business.
It can be difficult at times to distinguish what waste is hazardous and what waste is non hazardous. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says four clear characteristics of the waste help identify if it is hazardous:
The vast majority of waste produced in the United States is considered non hazardous, however. The EPA defines non-hazardous waste as “waste generated from processes associated with the production of goods and products, such as electric power generation and manufacturing of materials such as pulp and paper, iron and steel, glass and concrete.” It is not toxic, nor does it require special treatment during disposal.
Common examples of non-hazardous materials include:
In California, hazardous waste materials are highly regulated. Knowing what waste you generate is hazardous versus non-hazardous is critical to avoiding steep fines and any liability related to the improper storage and disposal of this waste.
The difference between the disposal of hazardous and non hazardous waste usually comes down to the type of disposal company that disposes of it for you.
In California, hazardous waste must be transported by a registered hazardous waste transporter. On the other hand, non hazardous waste can be handled by waste transporters who are not certified in handling hazardous waste.
But even if you generate non hazardous waste, there are many benefits to using a transporter that is experienced in handling both hazardous and non hazardous waste. Here are a few scenarios where working with an experienced disposal company makes sense no matter what type of waste you generate.
There is also something else important to consider when trying to determine whether your waste is hazardous or non hazardous. Making things more complicated is the fact that states often differ in their waste laws.
Take asbestos as an example. In some states, it is considered non hazardous. In California, asbestos is considered to be hazardous. However, only asbestos waste weighing more than 50 pounds in total requires transportation by a certified hazardous waste disposal company.
A certified waste disposal company with experience in both hazardous and non-hazardous waste removal can help you navigate these different laws as well as make sure you are meeting all waste removal regulations, whether your waste is hazardous or non hazardous.
One of the biggest benefits of an experienced disposal company is that it can help you determine whether your waste is hazardous or non hazardous if you do not know. The best companies will have the ability to identify your waste streams through profiling and testing.
Once a waste has been identified, the disposal company can certify the waste as non-hazardous, ensuring you don’t run into any trouble with the authorities during disposal.
As was the case above with asbestos, often state and local government laws differ from federal laws. A particular type of waste, like electronic waste, may be considered non-hazardous at the federal level, but considered hazardous at the state level. As a company, you’re subject to those state hazardous waste laws.
A waste disposal company can help you navigate these laws and understand how they impact your business.
While these benefits focus on helping you determine whether your waste is hazardous or non hazardous, as well as which laws may impact you, there are additional benefits to working with a certified disposal company. These include:
The best disposal companies will also offer a hazardous waste walk-through program. This type of service is consultative in nature and focuses on areas like waste storage evaluation, emergency readiness and employee training procedures.
Knowing whether your waste is hazardous or non hazardous isn’t always obvious. The quantity of your waste and navigating state versus federal laws can leave you with different answers.
An experienced hazardous waste disposal company can assist you with understanding what type of waste you generate on your property, as well as how to properly dispose of it. Whether your waste has been deemed hazardous or non hazardous, a disposal company can also help ensure you remain confident that your waste management is sound and according to the law.