If your California business generates any type of hazardous waste, you could be impacted by regulatory changes on the horizon.
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) recently released the first draft of a Hazardous Waste Management Report. Required by Senate Bill 158, the report is the first step in a process that will determine what additional information is needed to guide sustainable hazardous waste management in the state.
What does this mean for you as a business? As this initiative continues, the development of an updated Hazardous Waste Management Plan could mean changes in how hazardous waste is managed - both at your place of business and at treatment facilities.
If you’re not ready for what updates could be in the pipeline, you could face disruptions not only in your waste management compliance, but also in your everyday operations.
California’s 2025 Hazardous Waste Management Plan
The DTSC is crafting a new hazardous waste management plan for the state that is due in 2025. A recently released first draft of the plan aimed to determine what types of additional research is needed to further guide the planning process.
The state also held a workshop in August to review any data collected so far and discuss any next steps toward the development of the Hazardous Waste Management Plan.
The first draft of the report primarily focused on establishing a baseline understanding of how hazardous waste is managed in California, as well as identifying data gaps and other items that require additional research.
The report also included available information on areas like hazardous waste streams produced in the state and hazardous waste facilities that operate in California. In 2021, more than 94,000 generators in California shipped 1.41 million tons of hazardous waste off-site, according to the report.
How This Waste Plan Could Impact Your Business
While this recent report is early in the process of developing a comprehensive plan, it sets the stage for future public policy discussions on how hazardous waste is managed. Based on public input and statutory requirements, the DTSC has identified four areas to further examine:
- Waste reduction to create a more robust circular economy in California
- Capacity assurance to identify opportunities for increasing access to in-state capacity
- Hazardous waste criteria to determine whether existing hazardous waste criteria are consistent with current science and technology
- Environmental justice in how it relates to site cleanups
Businesses that generate hazardous waste could be impacted in the coming years in each of these areas, particularly in waste reduction and hazardous waste criteria. The DTSC plans to focus on specific industry sectors or waste streams where strategies for managing waste can be improved, including in the areas of:
- On-site treatment
- On- and off-site recycling
- Pollution prevention
- Safer alternative products
According to the report, the DTSC will also look at the differences between California’s and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criteria to determine whether current state hazardous waste laws are consistent with today’s technology. This means more waste streams could potentially be considered hazardous in the coming years, or there could be additional considerations you’ll have to incorporate into how your current waste is managed.
How A Disposal Company Can Help You Prepare
The most experienced hazardous waste disposal companies stay on top of changing regulations so that your business can navigate compliance seamlessly and minimize environmental risks. Partnering with one can help ensure you are prepared for any updated regulations that may be on their way in the new Hazardous Waste Management Plan.
Yet there are approximately 800 hazardous waste transporters registered with the DTSC’s Registered Hazardous Waste Transporter Database, and at any given time, there may be more since the exact number of registered transporters changes frequently because a company’s registration must be renewed every year. How do you know which hazard waste disposal company is most prepared for any challenges on the horizon?
Reputable hazardous waste services will maintain a line of communication with you about regulatory changes, offer proactive solutions and ensure your business remains compliant in the face of evolving challenges.
The best waste disposal companies will also offer a hazardous waste walk-through program. This service evaluates your hazardous waste management procedures, allowing for potential issues to be caught before they become costly mistakes. A walk-through is also collaborative and ensures that your company and employees are protected and in legal compliance with transport areas like waste manifesting, proper labeling procedures and emergency readiness.
While many companies choose to have a walk-through program when they first partner with a disposal company, this service can occur at any point, including after major regulatory changes go into effect.
Other services of an experienced hazardous waste company should include:
- Identification of uncertain waste streams through profiling and testing to ensure the right TSDFs receive the right waste
- Evaluation of your waste streams to determine if the waste could be reclassified as non-hazardous waste and save you money on the disposal fees
- Development of site-specific plans that include training and emergency preparation so that the preparation that takes place before transport is safe and efficient
- Transportation of your waste to the proper recycling and disposal sites
- Preparation of a manifest and other state and federal paperwork required for transport
- Evidence that your waste has been properly disposed of at the treatment and disposal facility
It’s also important to AVOID a hazardous waste broker as you search for a disposal partner and to contact the disposal company directly. Hazardous waste brokers will offer to connect you with a local disposal company that will accept your products, substances or other hazardous items. However, we strongly advise you to not take this course of action.
Brokers typically do not own a hazardous waste transportation business. They act as a middleman between the buyer (you) and the transportation company that takes your waste to a disposal site. A hazardous waste broker is NOT the same as a hazardous waste transporter.
How may you accidentally come into contact with a broker? If you perform an online search for a disposal company, you may click on a broker’s site instead. If you request a quote, a broker will reach out to you with pricing information. However, the prices the broker provides will be the cost of the disposal company’s service, along with an added fee for finding a service for you.
While you may be fine with paying extra to have another company find a disposal service for you, keep in mind that you likely won’t know who is handling your waste … and you could end up paying more in the long run if the disposal company isn’t experienced and violates any state or federal regulations.
That’s because if something goes wrong during transport, your business is at risk due to cradle to grave requirements, which link the generator with responsibility for the waste until it is properly disposed of.
In other words, YOU are ultimately responsible for the waste your company generates, so it’s critical to make sure that waste is in experienced hands during transport and disposal.
And as regulations continue to evolve in the state, with changes that are sure to be just around the corner, it’s more important than ever to directly engage with a reputable hazardous waste disposal company. By doing so, you can ensure that your waste management is in capable hands, maintaining compliance, minimizing risks, and safeguarding your business’s reputation and environmental responsibilities.