Finding a hazardous waste disposal company to use for your waste disposal can be more daunting than you may think.
It’s not as simple as doing a Google search or flipping open the Los Angeles Yellow Pages. Sure, you likely will come across a few options. But, finding the right hazardous waste disposal company that meets your needs is a lot more complicated than looking up a phone number or web address.
That’s because as a hazardous waste generator, you are responsible for the waste you create from “cradle to grave.” That means in order to be compliant with Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations, you are responsible for the waste from its initial generation to its final disposal.
Choosing the right hazardous waste disposal company is critical to ensure that you meet all cradle to grave requirements. It should be a carefully considered process, taking into account reliability, reputation and legality.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re a business in the Los Angeles area and are in need of services provided by a hazardous waste disposal company.
What Kind Of Vendor Do You Need?
Before you begin your search, it’s important to know what you need to be searching for in a hazardous waste disposal company.
For example, you’ll need to ensure that the vendor you choose has the ability to transport the hazardous waste you generate. That way, you can make certain that your hazardous waste is taken care of appropriately and legally.
Though manufacturing industries are probably the most recognizable that produce hazardous waste, many other industries do as well, including:
- Furniture manufacturing
- Railroad transportation
Hazardous waste disposal companies even receive calls from commercial real estate firms to assist with removing hazardous waste found at building sites.
If your business produces a number of hazardous wastes, make sure the vendor you inquire with has experience in all of them.
What Services Should The Vendor Provide?
When it comes to hazardous waste disposal companies, the old saying, “You get what you pay for,” has never been more true.
The best vendor isn’t necessarily the least expensive one. Don’t trade short-term cost savings for long-term liabilities. You don’t want to be showcased on the news as a company that has been fined for violating hazardous waste laws.
A quality vendor will be able to:
- Identify wastes through sampling and testing them
- Transport the wastes to recycling and disposal sites
- Prepare labels, manifests and other paperwork
- Offer prompt pickups
- Address any cost concerns you have
- Assist you with packaging your waste so you can avoid fines and save money
A company also should specialize in the disposal of your particular waste, as well as have an in-depth knowledge of the rules and regulations that apply to your business.
How Do You Determine If A Vendor Is Legal?
The hazardous waste disposal company you work with must be licensed and regulated. But how do you determine whether the vendor follows legal requirements to ensure you meet your own cradle to grave requirements?
First, you can check to ensure a disposal company is registered using the California Department of Toxic Substances Control’s Registered Hazardous Waste Transporter Database. For businesses in the Los Angeles area, you can search by either “active transporters by city” or “active transporters by county.” You can also search by zip code if you’re looking for a company in a particular area.
The database also provides information about when the transporter’s registration expires, its registration number and location.
A hazardous waste transporter registration is valid for only one year, so it’s a good idea to conduct annual environmental audits of vendors handling your hazardous waste. As can happen with any business, a reliable environmental vendor can lose its approved registration status if it does not meet certain requirements.
What Questions Should You Ask?
Once you locate hazardous waste disposal companies in the Los Angeles area, you must evaluate which ones can best fit your needs as a hazardous waste generator. Here are some questions you can ask to help you through this process:
- Can you provide documentation of compliance history, insurance coverage and qualifications?
- What licenses and permits do you hold?
- Are you financially sound? (Dun & Bradstreet report, Bank letter of credit, etc.)
- Are you properly permitted for transportation, storage, treatment and disposal of waste at the facility?
- How quickly are you able to remove hazardous waste?
- Are you able to demonstrate a good, sound history of regulatory compliance?
- Do you have personnel who are properly trained?
- Are you able to provide a statement of qualifications (SOQ)?
- Do you have procedures in place to deal with unknown chemicals?
- Do you use subcontractors, and if so, are you able to identify which companies are used and for what activities?
- Are you able to identify how materials you handle will be managed?
- Are you able to provide a list of references on past related projects?
The answers to these questions should help you determine whether important characteristics of a hazardous waste disposal company are evident. These include:
One final question you should ask is whether the disposal company offers a walk-through program. A program such as this offers your business the opportunity for a hazardous waste expert to evaluate your company and offer important insight into areas of focus, including waste storage evaluation, emergency readiness and hazardous waste evaluation.
California has some of the strictest hazardous waste regulations in the country, so finding a hazardous waste disposal company that can handle your type of waste and meet all requirements listed above is essential for any company looking to establish a strong relationship and reduce your liability.
In the short-term, companies that jump on the least expensive approach to their hazardous waste problems usually end up regretting it. In some cases, they also end up facing substantial fines.
In the long-term, however, the benefits you realize from an approved and financially sound hazardous waste management company will protect your own business and ensure that your waste is taken care of appropriately.