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DOES MY BUSINESS GENERATE HAZARDOUS WASTE – AND WHAT SHOULD WE DO WITH IT?

How much consideration do you give to the waste your business generates? If any of your waste is considered hazardous under Federal and State regulations, then mishandling or improper disposal can result in massive fines and penalties that can quickly wipe out profits.

Hazardous Waste Regulations

If you’re a business owner, your top priority is to make a profit. You do that by making quality products and then finding and retaining customers. You focus on getting the best price for quality materials as well as production efficiencies to control your costs. That’s all as it should be, but how much consideration do you give to the waste you generate? If any of your waste is considered hazardous under Federal and State regulations, then mishandling or improper disposal can result in massive fines and penalties that can quickly wipe out profits.

If you generate solid waste, you’re required to determine if it is hazardous. A solid waste is defined as a solid, liquid or gaseous material that is discarded by disposal, burning or recycling. Your waste is considered hazardous if it contains items on any of four lists (F, K, P and U) published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 40 CFR Part 261. Waste materials that make these lists are known to be harmful to human health and the environment when improperly managed.

Waste materials that are most hazardous make the P-List (acutely hazardous) or the U-List (toxic). There are six hazard codes for wastes that make these lists:

Hazard Code Hazard

I – Ignitability Characteristic

C – Corrosivity Characteristic

R – Reactivity Characteristic

E – Toxicity Characteristic

H – Acutely Hazardous

T – Toxic

Once you’ve determined that you are generating waste, you need to calculate your Generator Category by measuring the amount of hazardous waste you generate in each calendar month:

  • 220 pounds—Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG)
  • 220 to 2,200 pounds—Small Quantity Generator (SQG)
  • 2,200 pounds—Large Quantity Generator (LQG)

If your business is an SQG or LQG, you must obtain and use an EPA Identification Number. The annual registration fee you’ll pay is based on the maximum amount generated in any month of the previous year, not a monthly average.

Accumulating hazardous waste at your production facility can be a danger to human health and the environment so it should be kept on-site only for a short time—unless you obtain a permit. SQGs can accumulate no more than 13,228 pounds of waste on site for up to 180 days without a permit. LQGs can store greater amounts but must meet strict storage requirements and follow stringent requirements for emergency equipment testing and maintenance, with access to communications or alarms. Employees must be thoroughly trained on proper waste handling and emergency procedures.

Most hazardous waste cannot be disposed on land unless it meets treatment standards to reduce the hazardous components to levels set by the EPA. When hazardous waste is removed from the production site, it must be properly contained to ensure safe transport, correctly labeled and accompanied by a hazardous waste manifest. The hazardous waste manifest tracks hazardous waste from its generation to its ultimate disposal and must be maintained on file to document compliance.

In August 2016, the EPA increased the maximum penalties for certain violations of EPA regulations and environmental law. These higher penalties can be retroactively applied to violations that occurred as far back as November 2015. For many offences, fines doubled or even tripled. Disposing of hazardous waste in the wrong way and hoping you won’t get caught is not a viable business plan. The fines from even a single violation could easily bankrupt your company.

Mike Watts, President, Pinnacle Environmental Services, Inc.

http://www.pinnacleenv.com

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