Most businesses generate some kind of waste; it’s just a question whether it’s hazardous or non-hazardous. In both cases, proper waste management is essential. Meeting all appropriate regulations when disposing of hazardous and non-hazardous waste is crucial in protecting public health and the environment. It is also required by law, so as a business owner, you should be well-informed on the topic even if you have a waste disposal company taking care of the waste for you.
In this article, we’re going to talk about what is non-hazardous waste and why it’s important to properly dispose of it even though it does not present an immediate threat. We’ll also list some examples of non-hazardous industrial waste and give you some instructions on what you should do as a company that generates it.
Non-Hazardous Waste Definition
First things first, let’s talk about what is non-hazardous waste and how does the government regulate it. Whether a waste is hazardous or not depends on how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) categorizes it. Any garbage, debris, or discarded and thrown-away matter produced by industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural operations can be considered non-hazardous as long as it is not specifically listed as a known hazardous waste. It also shouldn’t display any characteristics of hazardous waste such as toxicity, ignitability, reactivity, or corrosivity.
Therefore, non-hazardous wastes are those wastes that are less harmful to our health and the environment or are excluded for reasons such as lack of information on the material, the potential economic impacts of excluding said materials, public policies, and sheer impracticability.
The most common way to categorize non-hazardous waste is to divide it into 4 different groups:
- Common Industrial Materials
- Medical Facility Wastes
- Secondary Materials (scraps and residuals)
However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed detailed regulations that further define what materials are considered as solid and hazardous waste. Furthermore, in order for a waste to be considered hazardous, it also needs to be defined as solid waste. Consequently, any waste that does not meet the definition of solid waste is also considered non-hazardous. However, the definition of solid waste is not limited to physical discarded matter. Liquid, semi-solid, and gases (in containers) can also be categorized as solid wastes.
Here are some non-hazardous waste examples that are excluded from hazardous waste regulations:
- Agricultural waste
- Mining waste
- Industrial ash
- Grinding dust
- Plastic packaging
- Paper and cardboard
- Arsenical-Treated Wood
- Media contaminated by Petroleum
- Underground depository containers’ debris
- Injected groundwater
- Oil filters
- Oil distillation bottoms
- Copper and gold
The EPA also lists certain waste material as “special wastes.” These materials are exempted from regulation thanks to the Bentsen and Bevill Amendments from 1980:
- Fossil Fuel Combustion Waste (Bevill)
- Geothermal Wastes, Gas, and Oil (Bentsen)
- Mining and Mineral Processing Wastes (Bevill)
- Cement Kiln Dust (Bevill)
Here’s a list of wastes that are not considered as solid waste:
- Spent sulfuric acid
- Pulping liquors
- Domestic sewage and mixtures of domestic sewage
- Radioactive waste
- Reclamation in enclosed tanks
- Coke by-products
- Excluded scrap metal
- Used wood preservatives
- Shredded circuit boards
- Materials used to make zinc fertilizers
- Zinc fertilizers
- Used cathode-ray tubes
- Various spent materials produced by the primary mineral processing industry
As a business that generates waste, it is your duty to determine whether you’re producing non-hazardous, or solid and hazardous waste. The lists created by EPA are very specific, so you can always refer to them.
If you can’t figure it out on your own, consider consulting a certified waste disposal company. While not as dangerous, proper non-hazardous waste disposal is just as important. If you fail to meet the EPA guidelines, you could be fined for violating waste disposal laws, and that’s something you want to avoid at all costs. Not only will it be a financial loss, but it will also have a negative impact on your company’s reputation. In today’s world, maintaining an environmentally-friendly reputation should be your biggest priority.
Getting Rid of Your Non-Hazardous Waste
Start by analyzing your production processes and determining if your business is generating non-hazardous waste. You can also hire someone to sample your waste and get it certified as non-hazardous. Once you are certain you’re dealing with non-hazardous waste, contact the closest facility, and check with them if they accept the type of waste you are trying to get rid of. Most facilities will be willing to accept non-hazardous waste if they have the means to process it. It’s important to note that this is not the case with hazardous waste.
You can also choose to hire someone to handle the waste for you. Look for a reputable company with years of experience, and that can provide you with flexible services. Over the years, your needs might change, and you might switch to generating hazardous waste. Having an already established relationship with a company that can handle both can be very beneficial.
Spaulding Decon is one of these companies and is well-versed in taking care of multiple types of waste. We can handle your disposal process and your paperwork too! Feel free to contact us for a consultation.