What Is Industrial Waste?

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. 

Many sectors of industrial manufacturing produce waste, including:

  • Various types of factories

  • Mining operations

  • 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 a substantial environmental impact if not properly managed. Below are some common kinds of waste that can be hazardous to human life and the environment.


Solid Waste


what is industrial wasteThough 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 a significant amount of waste - 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


Toxic Waste


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 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


Chemical waste is a significant issue in industrial settings due to the large quantity and the vast variety of chemicals used in manufacturing processes.

Industries such as chemical manufacturing, oil and gas production, and mining generate large amounts of chemical waste as by-products of their operations. These wastes can include heavy metals, acids, bases, and toxic organic compounds. 

Improper disposal of chemical waste can lead to contamination of air, water, and soil, and can have serious impacts on human health and the environment. Industries are responsible for safely managing and disposing of their chemical waste, which often involves treatment and neutralization before disposal. Some industrial companies are also implementing recycling and reusing programs to reduce the amount of chemical waste they generate.

Examples of chemical waste include:

  • Used solvents and cleaning agents

  • Expired or unused chemicals from laboratories

  • Leftover paint and varnish

  • Pesticides and herbicides

  • Batteries

  • Industrial process waste, such as oil and heavy metal sludge

  • Waste water containing heavy metals or other pollutants

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.


Secondary Waste


The EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management effort also has placed emphasis on reusing secondary materials that are considered to be non-hazardous, such as scraps and residuals that result from the production process. 

Secondary waste are the materials that are generated as a result of the handling, storage, or treatment of primary waste. In industrial settings, examples of secondary waste include:

  • Contaminated materials such as soil or debris that are generated during the cleanup of a chemical spill

  • Spent foundry sand

  • Coal combustion

  • Construction materials when infrastructure is demolished

  • Packaging materials or containers that are contaminated with chemicals

  • Residues or sludges from the treatment of primary waste

  • Dust or particulate matter generated during the handling or transport of primary waste

  • Ash or other residues generated during the incineration of primary waste

  • Solidified or stabilized waste created during the treatment of liquid primary waste

Proper management and disposal of secondary waste is important to prevent the spread of contamination and to protect human health and the environment.


How To Dispose Of Industrial Waste


what is 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, causing air, soil and water pollution.

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.

If your company produces industrial wastewater, several counties including Los Angeles County require that you obtain an industrial waste disposal permit.

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 drop-off facilities accept hazardous waste in the United States, while others only accept certain kinds of industrial or municipal solid waste. 

Considering many types of industrial waste are considered hazardous, drop-off likely isn’t an option. Your alternative is to work with a hazardous waste disposal company to ensure your waste is safely disposed of. Hazardous waste disposal companies offer a safer and more convenient option, and they can help with the process of disposing of industrial waste.


Why Your Company Needs Hazardous Waste Transport



Proper transport is crucial for industrial waste disposal. It ensures the safe and efficient movement of hazardous materials from the point of generation to the designated disposal site. 

Improper transport can lead to disastrous consequences, from spills to leaks and other accidents that can cause harm to human health and the environment. Proper transport also ensures compliance with federal and state regulations, which oversee the handling and disposal of hazardous waste. 

Regulations for industrial waste vary. For example, hazardous industrial waste requires “Cradle To Grave" compliance. 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.



What A Hazardous Waste Transporter Should Offer



If your company generates industrial waste, you’re likely focusing on finding a transporter that can pick up your hazardous waste and transport it to the appropriate TSDF.

However, the best disposal companies will also:

  • Help you establish an industrial waste management plan that covers all areas of your operations

  • Identify uncertain waste streams through profiling and testing to ensure the right facilities receive the right hazardous materials

  • Evaluate your waste streams to determine if the waste could be classified as non-hazardous waste, possibly saving you money on your disposal fees

  • Develop site-specific plans that include training and emergency preparation

  • Prepare manifests and other required paperwork needed for transport

  • Offer evidence that your waste has been properly disposed of at the treatment and disposal facility

  • Provide a hazardous waste walk-through program that evaluates your waste procedures and catches potential issues before they become costly mistakes

Working with a high-quality, licensed hazardous waste transporter that will pick up your waste and dispose of it legally will provide reassurance that your business is in good hands. However, going above and beyond the basic duties of a transporter will also ensure your business’s future is in the best hands.

The Downside Of Trusting Industrial Waste With A Broker



When evaluating a hazardous waste transport company that will help manage your industrial waste, a common question is: Should I use a hazardous waste broker? 

NO, you should never use a hazardous waste broker when you are setting up disposal for your industrial waste. Here’s why. .

Hazardous Waste Brokers are “middlemen.” They are NOT the same as hazardous waste transporters. In fact, brokers typically don’t own a hazardous waste transportation business. Instead, they act as the liaison between the buyer (you) and the transportation company that takes your industrial waste to a hazardous waste facility disposal site.

You may come across brokers while searching online for a company to transport your hazardous waste. Often, they will offer to provide you with a quote of how much it will cost to dispose of your toxic materials. 

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. A broker won’t always tell you that the company you are corresponding with is a broker rather than a transporter. They’ll also take the quoted price they get from the transport company and mark it up with whatever percentage they want before submitting the quote to you for approval. That means you’ll pay more for a service you could receive directly from a reputable waste transportation company.

Here’s the biggest reason why you should never use a hazardous waste materials broker: You lose control over who is handling your waste. You have no way of knowing what transportation company is taking your waste to a disposal site. It could be a company with a poor reputation, or worse, a company without the proper permits.

If something goes wrong during transport, you’re still liable due to cradle-to-grave requirements in California. It’s far better to work directly with a certified hazardous waste disposal company directly.

How To Find An Industrial Waste Transporter



To find an industrial waste transporter, you can inquire with other companies like yours to determine whether they have had success with the disposal company they use. Word-of-mouth recommendations can often produce promising leads, more so than simply performing a Google search.

However, no matter the source of information you receive about a transporter, it’s important to do your own homework as well. 

When searching for a hazardous waste disposal pick up company, the first thing you should check is that it has passed all background checks and holds the appropriate state and federal licenses (such as Motor Carrier Permit, DOT Hazardous Material License, DTSC Transporter Registration, etc.).

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control maintains a register hazardous waste transporter database where you can verify whether a business is a registered waste transporter. This database also provides when the transporter’s registration expires, the transporter’s registration number and the transporter’s location and contact information.

The transporter you work with should also be hazardous waste disposal experts and knowledgeable about the specific type of hazardous waste that your business generates. Each type of hazardous waste has its own specific regulations implemented by federal agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that must be followed during transport and disposal. Even states have their own different hazardous waste laws, which is important for a transport company to know if it must take your industrial waste to another state for proper disposal. 

Final Note



Industrial waste is unwanted or residual materials that result from industrial activity. There are several types of industrial waste, and while some are 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. 


industrial waste disposal