Frequent Hazardous Waste Violations (And What To Do to Avoid Them)

Industrial Waste Barrels

As concerns about the human impact on the environment continue to mount, public and private entities alike are looking for new ways to address the production, storage, and mishandling of hazardous waste. At Brent Industries, we work with businesses and companies from all across the country to help them make smart decisions about how they manage their soiled industrial textiles. 

While many of our partners are proactive in their hazardous waste management strategies, it’s not uncommon for us to hear about other businesses that violate EPA regulations and compliance rules. To ensure that your business is making eco-friendly choices, we’ve assembled a quick guide on the most frequent hazardous waste violations and the steps you can take to avoid them.

Not Closing Hazardous Waste Containers

Often it’s the simplest things that cause the most concern. Whether you’re loading or unloading a waste container, the container should be closed and sealed as soon as you’re done. In some cases, you may need to seal it with extra latches or straps. While this might take extra time, it’s in the best interest of your business, employees, and the environment to do so. Without being closed properly, these containers could be knocked over and spilled, causing the waste to spread from this. This can lead to complicated cleanup measures and the accumulation of more waste material as a result.

Not Making a Hazardous Waste Determination

Sometimes a business might look at a mysterious brown effluvia and hazard their best guess as to what it is. If you’re not sure whether this waste is hazardous or not, you can use the original Resource Conservation and Recovery Act definition to guide your decision:

A solid waste, or combination of solid waste, which because of its quantity, concentration, or physical, chemical, or infectious characteristics may (a) cause, or significantly contribute to, an increase in mortality or an increase in serious, irreversible, or incapacitating reversible, illness; or (b) pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, or disposed of, or otherwise managed.

Simply put, all of the waste on your work site needs to be characterized appropriately. If you’re not sure whether something needs to be characterized as hazardous or not, it’s wise to err on the side of caution and manage it as if it is. 

To help inform your decision, you can ask questions like

  • Is this waste solid? 
  • Is it excluded or exempt from the rules of hazardous waste?
  • Does it have hazardous waste characteristics and is the material regulated by the state?

Questions like this can help you determine how to characterize the material and how to best contain it.

Not Maintaining Manifest Records

Once your hazardous waste has been sealed in a proper container and shipped off-site, you’re still responsible for that waste. You need to keep detailed waste manifest records, otherwise, your business could face serious fines. 

The EPA’s Hazardous Waste Manifest System is designed to help businesses maintain detailed records that help businesses stay compliant with state and federal regulations. It’s considered best practices to maintain a record for every type of waste you work with on-site, as well as other records to comply with laws that are local to the state you’re working in. Anytime you ship waste, it is transported between sites or is handed off to waste disposal facility, you need to update your manifests and save a copy.

Not Having a Hazardous Waste Contingency Plan

Under the RCRA, every company that works with or produces hazardous waste needs to have a contingency plan in the event of an unplanned release of waste into the air, soil, or water. Left unchecked, this waste could pose a threat to the health of humans and the environment. As you’re developing a contingency plan, make sure you include the following elements:

  • The actions to take to reduce the spread of the waste.
  • Any local and federal emergency responders that need to be contacted.
  • A designated emergency coordinator with a description of their role.
  • A checklist of the required equipment to respond to a given hazard and its location.
  • An evacuation plan for personnel who are not responding to the hazard.

Having a contingency plan ensures that you and your business can react quickly to a major spill or release of waste. Having an incomplete plan, or lacking one entirely, can result in fines from the EPA.

Not Having a Plan to Minimize Waste

As part of Executive Order 13101 and the RCRA, a business should take every step possible to limit the amount of pollution or hazardous waste they produce as is economically feasible. In the case that pollution is unavoidable, the waste should be recycled. If it cannot be recycled, the waste should be stored and treated in an environmentally friendly way. Disposal of the waste should only be used as a last resort. 

By thoroughly understanding what waste your business produces, you can create a careful plan to minimize the production and find smart ways to recycle it.

Sustainable Waste Management For Your Business

Whether you’re responding to a release of waste or chemicals or need to manage the by-products of that event, Brent Industries is here to help. Using our proprietary green waste recycling system, we can clean, treat, and recondition your industrial textiles. From chemical soaked wiping materials to worn out and dirty work gloves, our closed-loop system removes any harmful materials from these textiles, restoring them to a useful condition. Our refurbished textiles process creates no by-products and leads to products that can be used again and again. Our refurbished textiles are significantly cheaper than purchasing these same supplies new.

Take steps to limit your environmental impact and have a waste management plan that is EPA compliant. Reach out to a Brent Industries representative to see how we can help you manage your waste textiles.

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