A new year starts with new challenges, which is especially true for managing hazardous waste…
The Top 5 Environmental Compliance Concerns of Hazardous Waste Disposal
Hazardous waste is defined as material with properties that create dangerous and harmful effects on human health or the environment in which we live. These waste products come from various sources including solid gases, batteries, sludge, and dangerous liquids.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) created a definition and a process to enable you to identify substances proven to be hazardous. These are the top 5 environmental compliance concerns of hazardous wastes which apply to most retailers and pose a high risk to the environment.
Storage tanks for petroleum are a concern for retailers of fueling stations. These tanks are sometimes used for emergency generators as well and can either be above ground or below. Petroleum storage tanks can lead to potential risks to the environment if they leak and are costly to clean up. Tank management violations typically arise from inadequate secondary containment. Other concerns are a result of nonexistent assessment certifications, overflows, and leaks.
As a retailer, it is essential your storage tanks are compliant with EPA standards and safe for the environment.
Solid waste is generally regulated at your local or state level, and many bans are being put in place to promote the recycling of many materials. Items such as cardboard, wooden pallets, food waste, tires, appliances, and paper are not being allowed in many landfills. You must also be aware that batteries and electronics are being considered as hazardous waste when you go to discard them.
Retailer’s best defense against violating hazardous waste materials is to have a good compliance program in place. A systematic approach to your disposal process and a good understanding of the issues will ensure you are compliant with the laws.
Construction sites often trigger significant environmental damage from stormwater. It can be challenging to remain compliant with stormwater regulations as your sites for construction regularly change, and rules vary from state to state and also within different local communities.
Create a greener upfront design to your sites to reduce environmental impacts and ensure you are more compliant with hazardous waste disposal requirements.
Consumer products in the retail industry are often a challenge to identify as a hazardous waste making compliant disposal difficult. Some items such as chemicals, bleach, paints, and most cleaners are easy to recognize while others like your cosmetics, perfumes, and air fresheners are often not as obvious.
These unobvious products put retailers in a position for potentially significant penalties when proper disposal practices are not followed. It is essential for you as a retailer to educate yourself on which products fall under the hazardous waste category to ensure you are compliant with hazardous waste disposal policies.
Coolers and Freezers
Many retail and industrial companies use refrigeration for either products or employee comfort. These units can range from a vending machine to a controlled refrigeration vehicle. Many coolers and freezers contain ODS (ozone depleting substances) or GWP (high global warming potential). As a retailer, you need to be aware of refrigeration management as there is significant enforcement in place for proper disposal of these units.
Recycling hazardous waste properly has a variety of benefits. It is essential for you to be compliant with the regulations to protect health and our environment. Following EPA regulations will ensure you are recycling in a safe manner.
You Can Recycle That! Here’s How Solvent Recovery Works
Every year thousands of tons of hazardous chemicals and solvents are improperly disposed of each year. They are poured down drains, thrown in dumpsters, or simply set outside to eventually break down and leak into the soil. What many people don’t realize is that even the most hazardous chemicals can be recycled, or at least disposed of in a way that doesn’t have a devastating effect on the environment.
What Types of Materials Can Be Recycled?
Recycling companies that deal with eco-friendly disposal and recycling methods will take a wide range of chemicals and solvents, including the following:
- Indoor/outdoor paint
- Motor oil
- Cleaning solvents
- Polyurethane stains
- Brake fluid
- Transmission fluid
- Construction materials
- Roofing tar
Many of these chemicals have a shelf life of less than a year so recycling them when you’re finished with them is always in the best interest of the environment.
How Does The Process Work?
Recycling chemicals and hazardous wastes can take time. Most collection centers already have dates designated for the collection of materials that are considered to be hazardous waste. If you have a large amount and want to schedule a pickup, companies will often quote a price and remove all of the materials at one time. This way you don’t have to wait until the quarterly or semi-annually pickup time.
If You Don’t Know, Ask!
There are some chemicals that claim to be environmentally friendly. Even though the label says they can be disposed of in the trash, it’s a good idea to call your local recycling center to make sure there are no issues that you need to be aware of. Experts are now saying that even household cleaning products should be disposed of through a recycling center due to the solvents and other chemicals they contain. If you ever have any doubts as to whether or not a chemical or any other type of material is environmentally safe, contact your local recycling center and talk to one of their professional staff. They can give you advice on the best way to dispose of any type of material you’re unsure of.
If you have any type of chemicals, solvents, paints, or construction materials and need to have them disposed of properly, call Environmental Marketing Services and get a quote. They can tell you how to package them for pickup to make sure they are properly sealed and ready for disposal. Don’t take chances on being slapped with a fine from the EPA. Call EMS, LLC today!
To Incinerate, or Autoclave- The Question of Bio-Medical Waste Disposal
There are advantages and liabilities attached to the disposal of medical waste to make it less hazardous. State agencies have set regulations for this type of destruction that is handled either as incineration, or autoclaving.
Each of the procedures is handled in a completely different manner, but each serve an important purpose. The question is how do you know if you should use the incineration process or the autoclaving? Understanding the difference between each process should help you decide.
Autoclaving sterilizes medical instruments, items that contain microorganisms, applicators, and other medical waste through a steaming process using moist heat. Placing items into an autoclave has them exposed to high-temperature steam and pressure. The amount of time required to steam them depends on the size of the equipment and the amount placed in the unit.
The sterilizing process kills germs that ordinary soaps or hot water cannot, and it continuously steams the items during the entire time length set for it to run. All dangerous microorganisms are killed during autoclaving, but there are limitations as to what type of materials can be used for this process.
Autoclaving will not destroy materials such as pharmaceutical or chemical waste but is the most common choice over the alternative incineration process. There have been no documented health impacts from this process but the fact that items are still recognizable as medical waste has some landfills concerned.
Incineration involves burning medical waste inside a specific incinerator and under a controlled process. This method is the most widely used to destroy infectious, bio-hazardous, and other medical waste. Incinerating products reduces the amount of material being sent to landfills, and it completely sterilizes whatever is placed inside the container.
The medical waste contains a lot of dangerous substances and is required to be burned at a controlled temperature. Incineration of medical waste is one of the best methods to prevent environmental damage from occurring. Once the materials are incinerated, what is left can be disposed of in traditional methods without risk to the environment.
How to Know Which Disposal Method to Use?
Deciding between the two disposal methods; incineration or autoclaving depends on the waste that is being destroyed. If you have hazardous waste, pathological waste which includes biological tissues and body parts, or trace chemotherapy waste, you will want to use incineration.
Materials such as gauze, bandages, sharps, gowns, or other medical equipment, you can use the autoclaving process. All of your medical waste must be treated with caution, and you should be working with a reputable medical waste disposal company to manage and collect your waste safely.
When gathering or storing medical waste for either the incineration or autoclaving process it is essential that personnel are appropriately trained in how to separate the materials and which type of containers they are placed into.
Biomedical waste must be placed in containers that are strong and will not break when handled. Contaminated tools, syringes, needles, and sharps must have their own disposal container and not be placed in the commonly used recycle bin. When you properly contain and label your waste, you will know which process of disposal it can be directed to.
There is a lot of care needed when handling medical waste. Hopefully, the information in this article has helped you decide on the best practice for managing your medical waste needs.
Does Your Business Have an Environmental Audit Coming Up? Here’s What to Expect
An environmental audit can be a challenging and stressful experience. The Environmental Protection Agency puts a lot of emphasis on their audits, so it is in your best interest to be prepared for your upcoming visit. Depending on the industry you are in, the audit will be conducted based on your processes, but there are core inspections that you should be aware of and ready to prove.
The Physical Inspection
The physical features of your structure will be checked for any potential releases of hazardous materials, gases, liquids or any other type of emission deemed unfit for the environment.
You will be expected to explain your system of control devices for the materials used at your facility along with a full description of those materials. They will also want to know how effective those controls are as this is the most common area to find leaks, fugitive emissions, spills, and other potential dangers.
Have all paperwork readily available to prove all maintenance schedules for your equipment are up to date. The environmental inspectors will be searching for things that pertain to the regulatory permit you filed. For example, if you’ve submitted a stormwater discharge permit, the inspector will check your site conditions as well as the ditches, swales, or wherever your outfall locations occur.
Paperwork is Your Proof
A good environmental inspector will ask to see your environmental recordkeeping papers. You will want to have this material in order if you’re going to pass your audit. The paperwork will be your proof that your facility is in compliance, so it is essential you keep these documents in an organized and professional manner.
Record keeping is an essential part of the audit. Inspectors look for your MSDSs (material safety data sheets) for all hazardous materials and that these sheets are easily accessible to any employees coming into contact with these materials. They will also want to see that you have an emergency response as well as contingency plans in place should an accident occur.
If your facility is required to have a pollution prevention plan, you will need to prove this plan has been developed and is in place. You will also need to provide compliance reports such as the Toxic Release Inventory Form R (TRI), Tier II if you have potential hazardous materials on site, and others. All federal and state environmental requirements must be met, and documentation is required to prove your facility complies with those as well.
Other documentation you will be asked for include any spills, incidents, or accidents that have occurred and proof of your official Emergency Response Notifications sent to the EPA. You will also need to prove your chemical inventory forms match the actual physical inventory on site.
The environmental inspector will be looking for proof that your facility matches your records. If you’ve conducted your EHS management correctly throughout the year, you should have no problems passing your audit.
Passing the audit means you’ve properly completed all reporting. Even if you think your facility is in excellent order, without the proper reports, you won’t pass the audit. Before the audit is conducted, you should review all relevant regulation to your industry, so you have not missed any updates or changes.
One crucial step is to make sure you’ve resolved any issues that were brought up during the last audit. There could be substantial fines for not responding to the feedback of a previous EPA audit.