Industrial waste is an all-encompassing term used to describe material considered to be no longer of use after a manufacturing process has been completed.
There are many sectors of industrial manufacturing that produce waste, including:
- Various types of factories
- Textile mills
- Food manufacturing
- Consumer goods
- Industrial chemicals
- Printing and publishing
Below we’ll explore different types of industrial waste, as well as what you should know about properly disposing of it to ensure you meet all federal and state regulations.
Types of Industrial Waste
Industrial waste can be hazardous or non-hazardous. Both, however, can cause substantial damage to the environment if not properly managed. Below are some common types of industrial waste that can be hazardous to human life and the environment.
Though the term “industrial waste” includes several different types, one of the most common is industrial solid waste. Each year, American industries generate and dispose of about 7.6 billion tons of industrial solid waste.
According to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, solid waste can be generated by manufacturing processes such as:
- Electric power generation
- The use of agricultural chemicals and inorganic chemicals
- Iron and steel manufacturing
- Water treatment
- Plastics and resins manufacturing
- Many of the other manufacturing processes outlined above
Industrial waste can also be toxic or hazardous waste. If not managed properly, this type of industrial waste can cause harm to humans, animals and the environment by contaminating waterways, such as rivers and lakes.
This type of industrial waste is generally a byproduct of other materials generated at factories, hospitals and manufacturing facilities.
It’s important to note that waste laws can vary from state to state. For example, in many states, asbestos is not considered a hazardous waste. However, in California, it is. If the waste weighs more than 50 pounds in total, transportation by a certified hazardous waste disposal company is required.
If your company’s manufacturing process produces and transports less than 50 pounds of asbestos to a disposal facility, you are not required to follow the same procedures as you would if you accumulated more than 50 pounds. These include manifest requirements.
Chemical waste mostly contains harmful chemicals. This does not mean, however, that it is classified as hazardous.
For it to be considered hazardous, it must have an ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity or toxicity characteristic, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management effort also has placed an emphasis on reusing secondary materials that are considered to be non-hazardous, such as scraps and residuals that result from the production process.
Examples of secondary types of waste include:
- Coal combustion
- Spent foundry sand
- Construction materials when infrastructure is demolished
How To Dispose Of Industrial Waste
Improperly handling industrial waste can have harmful consequences to both your company and the community. If not properly disposed of, harmful waste can be released into the air, soil and water.
This carelessness can also pose a threat to your company’s reputation and bottom line, and expose you to costly fines and publicity that your company may struggle to recover from for years to come.
Southern California is home to several facilities where you can drop off your industrial waste. Before you go, however, it’s important to check what materials the facility accepts, since not every facility accepts every type of industrial waste. Very few accept hazardous waste, while others only accept certain kinds of solid waste.
Hazardous waste disposal companies offer a safer and more convenient option, and they can help with the process of disposing of industrial waste.
Regulations for industrial waste vary. For example, hazardous industrial waste dictates a “cradle to grave” regulation. This means if you generator hazardous waste, you are legally and financially responsible for it from the time it is created to the time it is disposed of, whether it is on your property or not.
This is why many industrial waste generators work with a reputable disposal company to help them manage this process and alleviate any issues that may arise from the transportation and disposal of their waste - especially once it leaves your facility.
If your company produces industrial wastewater, several counties including Los Angeles County require that you obtain an industrial waste disposal permit.
You can read more about the importance of knowing what to look for in a waste disposal company in our article, How Industrial Waste Disposal Is Managed.
Industrial waste is defined as unwanted or residual materials that result from industrial operations. There are several types of industrial waste, and while some is considered non-hazardous, some types are classified as hazardous.
No matter, all types of industrial waste have the potential to be harmful if improperly managed.
That’s why if you generate industrial waste, it is imperative that you understand your responsibility when it comes to management and disposal. A certified waste disposal company can assist you with declassifying your industrial waste through proper sampling so you can ensure you follow proper procedures for handling the waste.