Environmental & Safety Blog


Waste Minimization Is Sound Practice and Can Generate $$$
By Sara Fineman

In 1984, amendments to RCRA established the following national policy, making waste minimization the nation's preferred hazardous waste management practice: "...the generation of hazardous waste is to be reduced or eliminated as expeditiously as possible. Waste that is nevertheless generated should be treated, stored, or disposed of so as to minimize the present and future threat to human health and the environment." (RCRA Sec.1003 [b], 1984.)
RCRA requires large and small quantity hazardous waste generators to certify that they have a waste minimization program in place that reduces the quantity and toxicity of hazardous waste generated to the extent economically practicable. Many times the inspector will ask for the written waste minimization program you acknowledged having in place. Be ready, and include the facility-specific methods you have implemented. Have the waste minimization trends and quantity reduction organized to be able to prove your positionEPA suggests you include the following in your program:
1.      Source reduction
2.      Environmentally sound recycling methods
3.      Energy recovery
4.      Treatment, and finally, disposal
The Pollution Prevention Act, passed in 1990, expanded the nation's waste prevention policy beyond a RCRA-only framework and included minimizing or eliminating toxic releases to all environmental media and natural resources. When feasible, source reduction and recycling should be implemented. Waste that cannot be reduced or recycled must be treated or disposed of in a safe manner, so that future generations are not given the burden of finding a better alternative. 
The Pollution Prevention Act has encouraged many organizations to expand their focus from RCRA-only to a multimedia pollution prevention focus. EPA offers a variety of information sources on multimedia pollution prevention.
Benefits for this sound environmental management program may include:
·         Reduction of the quantity and toxicity of hazardous and solid waste generation
·         Raw material and product loss decrease
·         Raw material purchase costs decrease
·         Waste management recordkeeping and paperwork burden streamlined
·         Waste management costs reduced
·         Workplace accidents and worker exposure decrease
·         Compliance violations go away
·         Environmental liability reduced
Through the implementation of the Waste Minimization Program improvements should include:
·         Production efficiency
·         Profits
·         Good neighbor image
·         Product quality
·         Environmental performance


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