There’s a prevailing idea among manufacturers that dealing with non-hazardous waste disposal is somehow less important or less stringent than managing hazardous items. This is not the case! Every manufacturer needs to comply with all federal non-hazardous waste disposal policies, and every Georgia manufacturer needs to follow those state-specific rules as well. So, as a manufacturer of this waste stream in Georgia, what do you need to do?
Non-hazardous Waste Disposal in Georgia: 5 Things Manufacturers Need to Know
1. Identify All Your Nonhazardous Waste
The first important step for any Georgia manufacturer is to assess all the waste generated in that facility. No waste management plan can even start to be implemented if you don’t know exactly what you produce, how much you produce, and what category of waste each type falls under.
Some manufacturers are under the false impression that non-hazardous means non-dangerous. However, even nonhazardous waste must be properly identified, stored, and disposed of, and the first step is realizing proper identification is even necessary and then following through with that.
The following are some common nonhazardous items that still require special disposal methods:
· Latex paint.
· Non-recyclable used car oil.
· Nonhazardous ink.
· Certain chemicals (confirm with the specific chemical’s SDS sheet)
2. Stop All Actions That Make You Noncompliant with Georgia Waste Management Laws
Once you know what you’re producing at your Georgia-based manufacturing facility, it’s vital to immediately stop any policy or action that puts you out of compliance with either federal or state waste disposal laws.
For example, if you’ve identified waste that is nonhazardous but is not simple municipal trash, you cannot throw that nonhazardous material into the trash can. Doing so could make you vulnerable to steep EPA fines. If you’re doing this wrong, stop as soon as possible!
3. Cradle to Grave Liability Still Applies to Nonhazardous Materials
Cradle to grave liability means you are ultimately responsible for your waste from the moment you generate it until the moment it is properly treated and disposed of. Even if you give that waste to a third party, you are still responsible and could face fines or other consequences if there was any damage because of that waste.
A lot of people know this about hazardous materials, but fewer people realize this still applies to nonhazardous as well. Therefore, make sure your waste management plans involve knowing exactly how and where all your waste is being shipped.
4. All the Paperwork for Hazardous Materials Applies to Nonhazardous
Just because waste is nonhazardous doesn’t mean you don’t need to fill out all the relevant paperwork, and in many cases, that’s just as intensive as it is for hazardous material. In particular, you still want the following: proof it’s been disposed of, proper labels, and any relevant shipping manifest. This will protect you in case of an audit, where you need to prove you’re operating in compliance.
5. Reach Out to a Reputable Local Waste Management Company
If you need help managing your waste or if you want the peace of mind that you’re in full compliance, start reaching out to local waste management companies.
As with the actual waste, some people think because it’s “just” nonhazardous it’s not as important to thoroughly vet the company that helps you manage it. Again, this is not the case. One of the most important waste management tips your Georgia facility can follow is to ensure you find a professional, reputable company to manage your waste.
To that end, do the following:
· Ensure the company has all proper permits and insurance to handle your waste streams. (A company will need different permits based on the type of waste they are accepting, whether or not they transport that waste, and other factors.)
· Confirm the company’s employees have undergone adequate training to handle your waste types.
· Get a sense of the company’s commitment to customer service. Being able to get your waste-related questions answered in a timely, accurate fashion could help you avoid a sizeable EPA fine.
· Ask for customer testimonials or read online reviews to get a sense of the company’s reputation.
· Ask how long the company has been in business in Georgia. This will let you know not only how experienced they are with waste disposal, but it will also tell you how long they have had to familiarize themselves with Georgia-specific laws.
· Ensure the end facility receiving the waste is also permitted and qualified to receive your waste type—whether it’s going to a Subtitle D landfill or for nonhaz incineration.
If you do work with a less-than-reputable company and they are caught being in noncompliance, at the very least, you’ll have to pay (in money and hassle) to get your waste back, and you’re also out whatever you paid the company in the first place. It can quickly become an expensive mess, so it’s worth your time to pick the right company the first time.
For more information about how to properly dispose of all waste types generated at your Georgia facility, please feel free to reach out to a representative of MCF Environmental Services, a waste management Atlanta company.