The EPA defines waste minimization as “the use of source reduction and/or environmentally sound recycling methods prior to energy recovery, treatment, or disposal of wastes.” If you are a facility that is generating waste, then it is good practice to have a waste minimization plan in place. Not doing so can result in not only legal trouble with EPA, but can have negative impacts on the health of the environment and community around you.
In this article, we will explore what waste minimization is, the benefits, and the legal requirements behind generating waste.
Is Waste Minimization required by law?
Yes. RCRA requires that facilities that generate or manage hazardous waste have a waste minimization program in place.
What is RCRA?In 1976 Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) which gave EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from beginning to end. It also created the framework for which hazardous and non-hazardous wastes would be disposed of. The four major programs are:
- Solid Waste
- Hazardous Waste
- Medical Waste
- Underground Storage Tanks
How do I know if my waste is hazardous?
If you are generating waste, it is your responsibility to either test your waste or use your knowledge of the waste to determine its contents and properties.
That is why it is best to work with experts in waste minimization like Handex, who can test your waste and offer effective solutions to dispose of your waste.
What is Waste Minimization?
The two most common ways that waste is minimized are through source reduction and recycling. Source reduction reduces or eliminates the generation of waste at the source.Some examples of source reduction are:
- Purchase of more durable products
- Replace certain materials to reduce toxicity
- Improve operating practices
Recycling is the reuse or recovery of in-process materials generated as by-products that can be processed further on-site or sent offsite to reclaim value.Some examples of recycling are:
- Processing the waste to recover or regenerate a usable product. For example, Handex uses sludge dewatering technologies such as centrifuges and filter presses to reduce volumes of liquid/solid mixtures by up to 80%.
- Using/reusing waste as a substitute for a commercial product.
- Direct use/reuse of waste in a process to make a product.
What are the Benefits of Waste Minimization?
Waste minimization not only protects the environment; it also makes good economic and business sense. With enough waste minimization, your company could potentially change your RCRA regulatory status or even avoid RCRA regulatory requirements altogether.Waste minimization can improve:
- Environmental performance
- Production efficiency
- Good neighbor image
- Product quality
- The quantity and toxicity of hazardous and solid waste generation
- Compliance violations
- Environmental liability
- Raw material and product losses
- Raw material purchase costs
- Waste management costs
- Workplace accidents and worker exposure
Handex is a provider of Pumping, Dredging, Sludge Dewatering, and Treatment of industrial and process wastes. Our staff includes experienced Project Managers, Engineers, Operators, Technicians, Fabricators, Scientists, Mechanics, and Health and Safety Professionals. Our objective is to meet and exceed client expectations while providing quality, safe and cost-effective services. In some cases, our clients find that the value of the materials returned to the plant pays partially for the cost of the sludge dewatering service.