Bye Bye Summer!
As summer comes to an end here in Oregon, I cannot help but think about Mother Nature. It’s hard not to. Over the past few months, the Pacific Northwest experienced a record heatwave prompting a state of emergency. Fires have continued to burn throughout the state causing poor air quality. These issues are not unique to Oregon though. Many states across the country have been affected by various natural disasters including hurricanes, floods, and droughts.
We’ve all been affected in some way or another by climate change. Generally, consumers have become more conscious of climate change, and many are basing their purchase decisions on a companies’ policies regarding the environment. Therefore, it has never been MORE important for companies to prioritize environmental compliance, training and safety. If federal and state regulatory agencies and consumers are taking the environment more seriously, then companies should as well. Hazardous waste training and compliance is an easy way to make that commitment.
What is Hazardous Waste?
Hazardous waste is “…waste with properties that make it dangerous or capable of having a harmful effect on human health or the environment”. Hazardous waste is generated from many sources, such as chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Hazardous wastes exist as solids, liquids, or even gases in their receptacles. Hazardous wastes are also the byproduct of many retail products, such as cleaners, paints, and inorganic solvents.
Hazardous Waste Generators must identify and characterize the wastes they generate and are likely to use the chart below. Knowing how and where to find the specific information related to the RCRA regulations, definitions of the waste management terms, and knowing how to properly manage and dispose of hazardous wastes are core elements of a quality hazardous waste training.
Three Reasons Hazardous Waste Training is Important
1. Health & Safety
The more knowledge people have regarding hazardous wastes and their associated hazards, the safer they will be. Proper training helps protect employees on-site as well as downstream handlers (e.g., transporters, treatment facilities) as well as the general public from potential dangers from mismanaged or poorly managed wastes.
Notable examples of significant domestic hazardous waste incidents include: Love Canal (New York), the Valley of the Drums (Kentucky), and the Syringe Tide (NY, NJ, CT). Despite the many lessons learned from these incidents, many continue to mistreat the environment by improperly or illegally disposing of hazardous wastes.
Recent environmental disasters like the town of Guiyu, China where shipments of toxic e-waste (discarded electronics and associated materials) resulted in very high toxicity levels, where approximately 88% of the children have excessive levels of lead in their bodies. We need to focus on the health and safety of humanity. Compliance with these strict standards should help.
2. Mitigation and Litigation
Regulatory agencies such as U.S. EPA have recently increased the maximum civil penalties for violations of its air, water, chemical, and hazardous waste programs. In fact, after the passage of the 2015 Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act, agencies such as the DOT and EPA intend to increase the amount of the civil penalties assessed each year to adjust for inflation. That means civil penalties are guaranteed to keep rising.
According to the Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Daily Advisor, in the first quarter of 2021, the EPA finalized 290 settlement agreements with small and large companies across the United States. This is a significant increase from 150 settlements in Q4 of 2020. While this number is certainly not trending in the direction we wish it would, it does however demonstrate how regulatory agencies are taking violations more serious each year.
These violations range from improper disposal of hazardous wastes to illegal importation of regulated chemicals in the United States. In addition, some states have state regulated wastes that are not recognized as hazardous wastes by the federal EPA, further emphasizing the importance of waste management literacy on both the federal and state levels.
Increased civil penalties further emphasizes the need for Hazardous Waste Generators to complete hazardous waste training. Generator waste management training, which includes waste classification, labeling, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste will help waste generators mitigate risk and avoid costly fines. The stakes are, quite literally, too high.
3. Protect This House
Proper hazardous waste management training can help protect our environment. Knowing and understanding the correct federal and state waste classifications means that the appropriate treatment method will be applied to prevent it from entering the environment through groundwater contamination or emissions into the air. Effective hazardous waste management practices help us preserve ecosystems as well as wildlife.
ShipMate Training and Consulting
ShipMate offers various waste management training programs and services to its clients. Our expert consultants can help companies properly classify their waste streams and help identify waste minimization methods. Our HazDox ™ program makes preparing documents such as hazardous waste manifests and EPA registration forms easier.
ShipMate University offers a number of courses related to federal and state waste classification and management, such as Hazardous and Universal Waste Management (ENV-0100); RCRA Hazardous Waste Classification (ENV-0402); California Hazardous Waste Classification (ENV-0505); Texas Industrial & Hazardous Waste Classification (ENV-0543); and Washington Dangerous Waste Classification (ENV-0547).
Each course is designed to fulfill the applicable regulatory requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as applicable requirements of the U. S. Department of Transportation, and U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Costly fines & expensive litigation can be avoided if companies stay in compliance. As tedious and time-consuming as it may be, staying on top of various agencies regulations is important. The consequences from poor waste management can far exceed civil penalties. Compliance means protecting our environment, protecting your employees as well as your neighbors.
That is why compliance is one of ShipMate’s core values.