Hazardous waste is strictly regulated because improper disposal can pose a threat to the environment, your workers, and the general population. The danger it presents makes it critical to manage it correctly and dispose of it effectively and safely. When choosing a hazardous waste service provider, there are several factors to take into account to ensure your company complies with all applicable regulations to maintain compliance.
When to hire a hazardous waste service provider
Hazardous waste includes ignitable, corrosive, reactive and toxic substances, and many other types of materials. Hazardous waste management involves services like waste transportation and disposal, properly classifying the waste, creating waste manifests, and assisting with record keeping.
Although there are differences in the amount of waste the EPA allows companies to accumulate based on how much they generate, even the smallest hazardous waste generators need to work with a disposal service provider. Because you are ultimately liable for the waste your operation generates, it’s important to do your homework and find a trustworthy company that will adhere to all regulations in disposing of any hazardous waste.
Criteria for finding the right service provider
Finding the right hazardous waste service provider is similar to procuring other types of services. The primary difference is that the stakes are often higher due to the nature of the waste and the danger it may pose. The first step is to develop criteria for your particular needs and requirements, including:
- What specific type of waste are you generating?
- How often will you require disposal?
- Do you have multiple kinds of waste that require a variety of capabilities for disposal?
These are the types of basic questions that will help you determine your particular needs. Common criteria used to judge hazardous waste service providers include what your organization is able to spend on disposal services, the convenience of the services a company offers, the level of flexibility, their safety record and their track record for environmental regulatory compliance.
When it comes to convenience, flexibility, and cost, it’s important to think about how often you’ll need waste disposed of, whether you ever need expedited or last minute pickups, and how much waste you are permitted to accumulate. Less expensive waste disposal companies may be less flexible and less responsive with pickups, which can lead to issues with waste accumulation that could lead to a violation of EPA regulations. If you typically wait until you are at the EPA limit before you schedule a pickup, you need a company that can meet tight deadlines.
Choose the right hazardous waste company
Once you determine what your requirements are, the next step is to review a list of providers that service your locations. In addition to having the capabilities and experience to meet your criteria, it’s important to look at their past service history, their certifications, and whether they are in compliance with the all regulations in your area. After you compile a list of candidates, the next steps are:
- Reduce the list to best candidates
- Create and send an RFI (request for information)
- Evaluate responses
- Send an RFP/Q (request for proposal/request for proposal quote) to the top responsive candidates
- Evaluate responses against your criteria
Special considerations for hazardous waste
Because your company retains ultimate responsibility for hazardous waste regardless of who disposes of it, this “cradle to grave” liability makes it especially critical to find a reliable, trustworthy hazardous waste service provider that has an excellent compliance record.
To protect your long term liability for the waste you generate, you need a service provider that is financially strong, has a loyal customer base, and, preferably, provides nationwide service. A large, compliant provider with many facilities and treatment options is more likely to have a strong compliance record with strict protocols to ensure that mistakes are nearly impossible. Working with a less reliable company can result in you ultimately needing to assume responsibility for their mistakes because the waste remains yours, if they are not available to shield you from that responsibility.
A further consideration that is important for hazardous waste disposal is whether the service provider offers long term sustainable solutions. A company with unique disposal or reuse methods will take your waste and repurpose it for use as an input, feedstock, or energy source for a different industrial process. Reuse removes your liability and helps work towards a more circular economy.
Conclusion: take the time to find the right provider
It takes a smart, imaginative, and innovative organization to effectively deal with hazardous waste. Choosing the right service provider should not be taken lightly, as your company retains ultimate responsibility and liability for proper management. Take the time to develop your specific criteria, evaluate the candidates, and keep in mind the special considerations for hazardous waste in particular.