No matter what industry you’re in, there are a variety of categories that relate to generated waste. It’s essential that you and your employees all understand these different categories because the type of waste you’re dealing with will dictate how that waste needs to be stored, containerized, transported, and treated before disposal. One particularly important category is RCRA hazardous waste.
What Is RCRA Hazardous Waste, and Why Is It Important to Know About RCRA?
RCRA stands for the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and it was enacted into legislation in 1976. It’s a federal law that established rules and regulations for the proper, safe disposal of both solid waste and any waste designated as hazardous.
It also dealt with the process for properly identifying hazardous waste and coding it in a standardized way. This codification ensures that everyone dealing with this type of waste (the industry producing it as well as the people handling, transporting, and treating it) understand exactly what that waste is and the protocol for properly disposing of hazardous waste.
What Were the Main Goals of RCRA?
RCRA was established to improve the current legislative rules regarding waste disposal (hazardous and not). Its main goals included:
- Protecting the people in contact with this generated waste.
- Protecting the environment from improperly disposed waste and the residual environmental problems from that improper disposal.
- Reducing waste where possible through recycling and source reduction.
RCRA Waste Coding System
Making a universally understood coding system reduces the chance of improper handling. The numbering system eliminates any potential ambiguity about what exactly is being deal with. If the hazardous and non-hazardous are properly identified and classified, it’s much less likely that the improper protocol will be used to dispose of it.
Examples of the coding language include:
- D001: Flammable liquid (anything with a flash point that can cause damage if exposed to a particular level of heat)
- D002: Corrosive
- D003: Reactive
Who Uses This Coding Language and Other RCRA Rules?
Any industry that creates hazardous waste is subject to these rules and regulations. For instance, the waste could be created through your manufacturing facility. In order to treat steel, the surface must be prepped by washing it in certain chemicals. These chemicals are often corrosive. Chlorinated solvents and paints used within this industry could also be hazardous. Wood workers often work with flammable items considered by RCRA to be hazardous. Doctors’ offices, hospitals, veterinarian offices, and other medical-related industries also have hazardous material in certain expired medications, chemotherapy waste, and more.
The point is that any company that creates or deals with hazardous materials—regardless of size—is subject to waste compliance with RCRA.
How Can a Waste Management Company Help?
If you’re at all confused or overwhelmed by the prospect of being in total compliance with all RCRA laws, it’s a good idea to reach out to a waste management company that has the expertise and know-how to properly deal with the disposal of all your hazardous materials.
The liability for properly dealing with these hazardous materials falls on the individual company producing the waste, and improperly disposing of that waste could have far-reaching negative effects—both in terms of environmental impact and fines or other consequences levied against your business.
A proper waste management company can help walk you through every step of correct waste disposal (hazardous and not). This includes identification, storing, transporting, and disposal to a proper treatment facility. (Note, properly transporting hazardous waste requires certain permits, licensing, and insurance. It’s your responsibility to ensure your waste management company has these.)
For more information about what constitutes waste that’s hazardous under RCRA’s regulations or how to properly dispose of it, please contact a representative of MCF Environmental Services, a licensed and experienced waste management company located near Atlanta, Georgia.