How to Choose a Hazardous Waste Disposal Transporter

At first glance this process may seem like an easy exercise. Run a quick internet search, call a couple of transporters and pick the lowest price. 

However, following this simplistic approach could end up costing you more than you imagined. Choosing the wrong transporter, who doesn’t have your best interest at heart, could lead to neglected regulations, improper disposal methods and significant legal and environmental repercussions.

Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision on who should handle your hazardous waste disposal so that you can rest assured your business is compliant, safe and environmentally responsible.


Know Your Goals



Thinking through the process of choosing a hazardous waste disposal transporter starts with the goal your companyhazardous waste disposal transporter has when disposing of the waste you generate. Some questions to consider include:

  • Do you need a one-time pickup or regular service visits?
  • Do you want to get rid of the waste at the cheapest price?
  • Do you care if your waste is actually being disposed of correctly?
  • What happens if the designated transporter has an accident and has no insurance or limited insurance?
  • Do you need certain disposal options to meet your sustainability goals?
  • How experienced is the transporter in handling your specific type of hazardous waste?
  • What is the transporter’s track record regarding compliance with environmental regulations?
  • Can the transporter provide detailed documentation and tracking of the waste from pick-up to final disposal?
  • Does the transporter offer emergency response services in case of spills or accidents?
  • How does the transporter ensure the safety of their employees and the public during the transportation process?

Taking a serious look at these questions may reveal some information that you may not have known, which is relevant to your company's goals on sustainability, cost and compliance and could affect the decision you make the next time you need a transporter.

Determine The Service You Need



The type of hazardous waste you generate will help you determine what type of disposal service you need. For example, if your facility generates medical waste, you must partner with a transporter that is legally allowed to manage this type of waste. In California, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) regulates medical waste transporters. 

If you generate another type of hazardous waste, the organization that oversees the transportation of this waste may be the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

If you generate multiple types of waste, which is the case with many facilities, you may need to make sure that the transporter you work with is licensed through both the CDPH and the DTSC.

You’ll also need to check with a disposal service you are considering about whether the company can deliver your waste to the appropriate treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF). For example, only certain types of facilities accept electronic waste.

Take A Closer Look At Costs



In other words, you get what you pay for. We’ve all heard this, but when it comes time to choose a vendor, it’s all toohazardous waste transporter easy to slip back into getting the cheapest price. After all, you need to keep costs under control. 

However, having a relationship with your service company can yield greater dividends and improved cost savings, even if their costs are little more up front. Look at the vendors you use now.

  • Are they the cheapest on the block?
  • What kind of relationship do you have with them?
  • Do they offer to help you become more cost-effective or just do a pickup and leave?

You are more likely to find that the vendors you currently use will do everything they can to try to fulfill your expectations and, in many cases, will exceed them. Those that you aren’t happy with probably won’t try very hard to keep your business and will just do the bare minimum to keep it.

Hazardous waste transporters, who spend the extra time to understand your business and offer solutions to help your specific business needs, will ultimately yield a far greater return on your investment than those who just give you a low price. If you find a company that provides both, Yahtzee!

Even if you need a one-time pickup, going with the lowest possible price could end up costing you more. For instance, a very low price could mean:

  • Poorly maintained disposal trucks
  • No liability insurance or minimal coverage
  • Poorly trained drivers or drivers with no training in how to handle hazardous waste
  • Illegal disposal of the waste
  • No certificate to prove the waste was disposed of

A reputable company will have proper and well-maintained equipment, adequate insurance coverage, employees who are certified to handle hazardous waste and will certify that your waste is disposed of correctly. They will also offer walkthroughs or do overviews of your hazardous waste procedures and offer insights into cost-saving measures you can employ. 

Avoid Hazardous Waste Brokers



There’s a big difference between using hazardous waste transporters vs. brokers. Companies that generate hazardous waste should be cautious about using hazardous waste brokers for several reasons. 

Hazardous waste brokers act as intermediaries, connecting waste generators with transporters and disposal facilities. While this might seem convenient, brokers often lack the direct control and oversight that a dedicated hazardous waste transporter and disposal service would provide. This can lead to issues such as mismanagement of waste, improper documentation and a lack of accountability. 

Because brokers are intermediaries, they mark up the quote a transporter provides before presenting it to you. They then pocket the difference.

Brokers might not always ensure that the waste is handled in compliance with all applicable environmental regulations, which could result in significant legal and financial liabilities for the waste-generating company.

Using a broker can obscure the waste’s chain of custody as well, making it difficult to track where and how the hazardous waste is ultimately disposed of. This lack of transparency can increase the risk of illegal dumping or improper disposal, which can harm the environment and public health. 

Brokers may prioritize cost-cutting over compliance and safety, selecting transporters and disposal sites based on the lowest bid rather than their reliability and adherence to regulations. 

For companies generating hazardous waste, direct engagement with reputable, certified transporters and disposal facilities ensures better control over the waste management process.

Ask For Feedback



Ask other businesses who they use and get their feedback. There is nothing like a personal endorsement. 

If you already have a company in mind for transporting your hazardous waste, ask them for a list of current clients who you can talk to to get feedback. Ideally, you should reach out to businesses that have similar operations as yours or generate the same types of hazardous waste. 

The decision to use a hazardous waste transporter should not be taken likely, especially in today’s litigious world and heavily regulated industries like hazardous waste. The news is full of stories of the latest company fined millions of dollars for not following the proper regulations when it came to treating, storing or disposing of hazardous waste shipments. 

Trusting a transporter who seems OK can cost you dearly. As a busy business owner or manager, the last thing you want to do is fail to protect human health and the environment because of poor treatment or disposal. Do your homework, investigate and review. It is worth it in the long run!


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