proper hazardous waste disposal methods: a guide for business owners

Proper Hazardous Waste Disposal Methods: A Guide for Business Owners

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Hazardous waste poses harsh risks to the surrounding environment if disposed of improperly, potentially affecting local wildlife and human health.
  • Business owners should have a plan in place for managing, storing, and disposing of hazardous waste
  • Businesses can reduce their hazardous waste by taking steps to recycle and reuse chemicals when possible.
  • Businesses can rely on a professional hazardous disposal service like Alpha Environmental for safely managing waste.

Hazardous waste disposal is not a process that businesses can simply brush over. There are heavy regulations in place surrounding hazardous waste disposal and management, and disposing of hazardous waste improperly can lead to harsh fines. Safe management and disposal promotes the safety of your employees, customers, and the surrounding environment.

Business owners can safely manage their hazardous waste disposal processes by having a clear plan in place for removal and taking steps to mitigate the amount of waste produced. Alpha Environmental is your partner in hazardous waste disposal—this guide covers everything business owners need to know about disposing of hazardous waste safely and legally.

Environmental Impact of Improper Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste is any waste that is dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment, and it is heavily regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Typically, hazardous waste is anything that has toxic, flammable, or reactive properties or falls into the four designated categories of hazardous waste.

Industries like hospitals, agriculture, manufacturing plants, and more all produce some form of hazardous waste, meaning proper disposal must be a priority. Even some common items around the house can be considered hazardous.

Common examples of hazardous waste include:

  • Adhesives
  • Aerosols
  • Antifreeze
  • Automotive oil
  • Batteries
  • Fertilizer
  • Hazardous household items, like light bulbs and thermometers
  • Paints
  • Solvents

Hazardous materials like the above examples must be handled and disposed of properly in order to ensure public health and safety. If any of these items are improperly disposed of, they can end up in local waterways, leach chemicals into groundwater, or pollute the soil. 

Waste that leaches into local ecosystems can pose health hazards to wildlife and humans alike, risking disease, birth defects, and behavioral abnormalities, among other biological conditions. 

Safe Handling & Storage of Hazardous Waste

Managing hazardous waste matters throughout the entire life cycle of the materials—the EPA  sets regulations for what it calls a cradle-to-grave process. Proper management throughout this process starts with safe handling and storage.

Consider the following steps for handling and storing hazardous waste safely:

  • Determine whether your materials are hazardous or extremely hazardous using the list of known hazardous and extremely hazardous waste
  • Training employees and staff on proper hazardous material management
  • Designate a specified storage area for hazardous waste and use clear signage
  • Label all hazardous materials and waste to prevent unidentified chemical waste
  • Wearing proper personal protective equipment whenever handling hazardous materials
  • Know hazardous waste storage time and limits for disposal
  • Only handle hazardous waste in areas with safe ventilation

Your Partner in Hazardous Waste Management

Alpha Environmental handles hazardous waste disposal, cleanup, and consulting to help your business stay in line with local regulations while saving costs, time, and stress.

Recycling Hazardous Waste

In some cases, you may be able to reuse or recycle certain chemicals and products to minimize your hazardous waste production entirely. This process saves costs and cuts down on the amount of hazardous waste you need to manage.

Some methods that can be used to recycle hazardous waste include:

  • Filtration Used oil or petroleum products can, in some cases, be filtered for reuse. This reduces spending on new petroleum products and minimizes the amount needed for disposal.
  • Distillation – Facilities that use acetone or solvents can distill the solution after use to recover a percentage of the original chemical to be used again. If you’re able to distill a solution to recover about 80% of the solution, then you will only produce about 20% of the waste that you originally were going to.
  • Fuel-blending – For some other cases, a material may be able to be reused through fuel-blending. For example, acetone can be mixed with gasoline to maximize its remaining thermal energy and be used for powering some industrial processes, which also helps to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.

Disposing of Hazardous Waste

Not all hazardous waste can be prevented or reused, so safe disposal must also be a priority for businesses. When disposing of hazardous waste, it’s necessary to follow a careful process to ensure environmental health, public safety, and compliance with local and federal regulations.

Popular methods include underground disposal for radioactive waste, landfill disposal and encapsulation, and deep-sea depositing in rare cases. In most cases, though, businesses must concern themselves solely with packaging waste properly and transporting it safely to a designated facility for safe disposal, containment, or recycling.

For safe hazardous chemical waste disposal, businesses should consider these steps:

  • Store waste in the correct containers or packaging – Choose containers that are chemically compatible with the materials they hold, are clearly identifiable as hazardous materials, and able to be securely closed.
  • Label waste with a hazardous waste tag – Minimize unknown waste by labeling all materials with the appropriate tag. Ensure safe handling by labeling waste based on whether it contains lab trash, dry chemicals, liquids, sharps or another risk. 
  • Consolidate where possible – Consolidation can make the waste process more efficient by combining multiple hazardous waste streams together for more convenient storage and transportation, as long as the materials are chemically compatible.
  • Comply with local regulations – Follow all regulations regarding the disposal of industrial or household hazardous waste. In Oregon, hazardous waste rules and regulations are set by the Department of Environmental Quality.
  • Consult a professional hazardous waste disposal service – A professional service will ensure that all hazardous waste is managed, transported, and disposed of properly without effort from your business. A service like Alpha Environmental will also provide consulting to help you determine what materials are considered hazardous and how to address them appropriately.

Cost-Effective Solutions for Hazardous Waste

Disposal of hazardous waste can be a costly process, and as a business owner, you want to be able to cut costs where you can. Fortunately, there are ways business owners can adapt their hazardous waste management to save money.

Businesses can be more cost-effective in managing hazardous waste by:

  • Avoiding buying excess materials – Keep an inventory of the materials you need and track how long it takes to go through them.
  • Redistributing leftover product – If you have a product that you’re not going to use completely, consider redistributing it within your network or to other business locations so you can avoid the product going to waste and save money on the disposal.
  • Choosing the right professional services – Choosing a professional service that manages hazardous waste can save the time and money of having to navigate the process yourself as they understand the necessary steps and regulations. Find a service that offers fair rates without overcharging.

Alpha Environmental supports businesses in Portland and around Oregon with safe, cost-effective hazardous waste disposal. With over 21 years of experience serving residents and businesses in the Portland area, we understand the steps necessary for safe disposal while following all necessary regulations.

How Alpha Environmental Services Can Help

Hazardous waste disposal is not something to take lightly. Business owners must know how to safely and properly manage hazardous waste. For the sake of environmental health, public safety, and regulatory compliance, it’s best to leave hazardous and chemical waste disposal in the hands of a trained and licensed professional service.

At Alpha Environmental, we provide full support for safe and cost-effective hazardous waste disposal. If you’re unsure what is classified as hazardous waste, we’ll also provide disposal consulting so that you can be sure you’re following safety regulations and guidelines.

Contact us today to learn more about the hazardous waste disposal process and see how Alpha Environmental Services can support you throughout every step of the process.

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