Hazardous waste refers to unwanted or unusable materials that are dangerous or potentially harmful to the health of humans or the environment. This waste comes in various forms (liquids, solids, gases, and sludges), and it must be handled very carefully due to its destructive nature. Examples of hazardous waste include common commercial products like ink, paint, solvents, as well as by-products of manufacturing and industrial processes. If your company or facility handles hazardous waste, you must learn how to dispose of it properly to protect the environment and to protect your business from regulatory scrutiny.
Hazardous Waste Disposal in the RCRA
In the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Congress mandated that the EPA must regulate hazardous waste disposal in the United States. Accordingly, the EPA formed strict regulations regarding the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste. These regulations are outlined in Subtitle C of RCRA, which establishes design and management requirements for land disposal units (LDUs) like landfills, surface impoundments, and land treatment units, etc.
Types of Hazardous Waste
Hazardous waste can be divided into two categories: characteristic waste and listed waste. Characteristic waste refers only to hazardous materials that possess one or more of these harmful features: ignitability, reactivity, corrosivity, and toxicity. Listed wastes, on the other hand, are specified by the EPA. They come from non-specific sources, specific sources, and discarded or off-spec chemical products.
Methods of Disposal
Although hazardous wastes were thrown in landfills in the past, this caused the surrounding environment to be contaminated with dangerous substances. These days, some hazardous wastes can be put into landfills, but only if they are stabilized and solidified first. Many hazardous wastes can be recycled, such as circuit boards, batteries, etc. If you’re interested in this safe, effective, and green hazardous waste disposal solution, follow the EPA’s regulations regarding hazardous waste recycling. Other methods of hazardous waste disposal include incineration (waste-to-energy), pyrolysis, and isolated landfills used specifically for hazardous waste.
All companies that generate hazardous waste must follow the EPA’s regulations to dispose of it properly. This includes a number of varied businesses, from dry cleaners and hospitals to exterminators and industrial facilities. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to develop an environmental management system (EMS) that takes hazardous waste into consideration. Developing this plan will help you identify relevant EPA requirements and create appropriate solutions. Your EMS should define a set of management processes and procedures that your organization will use to proactively manage the impact you have on the environment. This will help you stay in compliance, prevent pollution, and protect your business.
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Do you need help managing your facility’s hazardous waste? Contact Environmental Works, a full-service environmental consulting and contracting firm. We have had great success developing environmental management systems (EMS) for large and small facilities that need help with waste management responsibilities. To learn more about our services, please give us a call at 417-890-9500 or contact us online.