What is Solid Waste?
As defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), solid waste is “any garbage, refuse, sludge from a waste water treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility, and other discarded material, including solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gaseous material, resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural operations and from community activities.”
In other words, solid waste is not always solid.
How Does This Affect You?
As a real estate professional and property manager, you are concerned with solid waste best management practices and how to establish a system that will meet your state and municipality rules.
Best waste management practices include reuse and recycling, specific plastic coding requirements, general storage guidelines, and a waste segregation system for correct disposal of all wastes, including hazardous materials.
Why Should You Be Concerned About Solid Waste Management?
Some wastes are regulated by state or federal law. Different landfills have varying requirements on the types and amounts of wastes they accept. Special projects can generate a waste that’s regulated due to its safety hazard.
Failure to follow the correct waste management regulations could mean regulatory violations and penalties, as well as the potential threat to public health and environment.
For each solid waste management, the first step involves identifying what waste may be hazardous, universal, or have other special handling and disposal requirements.
What is Universal Waste?
Universal waste is generated universally, or by many different types of businesses. Because it is hazardous and pollutes the environment, universal waste should not be disposed of in the general trash.
Universal waste differs from hazardous waste in that universal wastes have certain regulatory reliefs due to their mass generation.
The 4 Categories of Universal Waste
1. Spent lamps
2. Spent batteries
3. Spent mercury-containing equipment
4. Recalled or unused pesticides
The Importance of Hazardous Materials Management
Because hazardous materials are substances with one or more hazardous characteristic, they must be properly managed to minimize exposure and reduce risk. This includes the use of appropriate handling, labeling, Safety Data Sheets (SDS), and storage.
The most common hazard characteristics are:
- Toxic: Most chemicals are toxic at some level and will cause harmful reactions if allowed to enter through the body by nose, mouth, or skin. Examples are solvents, paints, and pesticides.
- Corrosive: These materials can dissolve other substances, including clothing or work gloves, and cause serious burns on the skin or eyes. Examples are cleaners and muriatic acid.
- Explosive: Certain materials can explode when exposed to heat or flame. Examples are flammable liquids and compressed gases such as aerosol cans.
- Flammable: Materials that catch fire easily, burn rapidly, spread quickly, and give off intense heat are considered flammable. They include solvents, paints, and fuel.
- Reactive: These materials can become unstable and readily undergo a violent chemical change. They must be kept away from heat or flames and are to be used with extreme caution. Common examples are two-part epoxy and resin.
Know the Rules of Hazardous Materials Storage
When working with and storing hazardous materials, be sure to understand the safety measures and have trained your employees according to OSHA requirements.
The rules for hazardous materials storage include segregating incompatible materials, safe chemical storage devices such as safety cans and cylinder lockers, routine spring cleaning policies, and readily-available spill kit items.
Protect Yourself and Your Employees
Stay informed on what OSHA requires for employee training and awareness on hazardous material management.
Get additional information whenever there is a question on solid waste and the best practices for solid waste management.