You may start a small business here in Georgia that will produce waste. Before you begin operations, you may want to determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency would consider that waste hazardous. If so, you also need to know how to safely dispose of it in order to prevent an environmental disaster, along with fines and lawsuits.
Making the determination regarding whether the waste your company will produce is hazardous under EPA regulations. The next step will be to understand the regulations regarding its disposal. Once you work out these details, you can begin operations knowing that your business remains in compliance with the applicable laws.
How does the EPA define hazardous waste?
Hazardous waste includes liquids, contained gaseous materials, and solids that have no further use and await storage, recycling or disposal until enough exists to treat it and then get rid of it. If the "solid waste," as the EPA refers to it, does not fit into one of the more than 400 wastes identified in the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, then you need to determine whether it fits the following parameters:
- It catches fire when exposed to heat
- Harmful or fatal when absorbed or ingested
- Eats through other matter
- Is explosive, unstable or toxic when mixed with another substance or exposed to pressure or heat
Some exceptions do exist, so you will need to delve further into the regulations to be sure that your waste does not qualify as hazardous.
How does the EPA say to dispose of hazardous waste?
How you dispose of hazardous waste depends on how much waste your company produces. The EPA puts the amount of waste into three categories as follows:
- Large quantity generators
- Small quantity generators
- Conditionally exempt small quantity generators
Most small businesses fall into the second category, which means they produce anywhere from 200 pounds to 2,200 pounds of waste each month. The important thing to remember is that failing to dispose of it properly could result in steep daily fines and even jail time, along with other consequences to your business. Most hazardous waste disposal requires special equipment and certain procedures.
How to know for sure where your business fits
Navigating through EPA regulations probably isn't your idea of fun. Fortunately, you don't have to do it alone. An environmental attorney's experience in these matters could prove invaluable in keeping your business in compliance.