Companies in the United States create 7.6 billion tons of industrial waste. Companies specializing in the safe disposal of this waste play a key role in keeping our economy going. But if you don’t work in industrial waste management, you may not be familiar with the different types of industrial waste disposal.
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What Is Industrial Waste?
Industrial companies create many different types of residue and byproducts through their manufacturing practices. Any unwanted materials resulting from these processes are considered industrial waste.
There are several different types of industrial waste, including:
- Solid industrial waste – which includes everything from animal remains to electrical components
- Toxic industrial waste – which is often a byproduct of manufacturing facilities
- Chemical waste – can consist of any dangerous chemicals that get created during the manufacturing process
How Is It Managed?
Industrial waste management is an integral part of this economic sector because many of the byproducts of manufacturing can’t go into your standard landfill. Companies need to have an easy alternative method of disposing of these types of byproducts to uphold their legal obligations and protect the environment.
That’s where industrial waste services come into play. These businesses use a wide variety of technology and unique processes to dispose of toxic and hazardous waste in safe ways that won’t damage the environment.
A company typically has an obligation to look after any industrial waste they generate from “cradle to grave.” That means your business needs to ensure any waste it creates is disposed of properly, or it risks receiving hefty fines.
Many industrial waste services will help you achieve that by picking up the waste from your facilities and disposing of it for you. But you may also need to take the waste to special facilities, depending on the services you use.
The 5 Different Types of Industrial Waste Disposal
Depending on the industry you’re in and the byproducts your manufacturing processes create, you may have to deal with one or more of these types of industrial waste.
Radioactive waste is highly volatile and often created by factories such as those involved with fuel mining and nuclear power generation. If your factory creates this type of waste, it will be important to partner with experts who can abide by all local, state, and federal guidelines and restrictions while disposing of the waste.
The process of disposal involves categorizing the waste based on its radioactivity level—ranging from low-level waste, like contaminated tools and work clothing, to high-level waste, such as spent nuclear fuel and certain byproducts from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.
The United States, under the guidance of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mandates strict protocols for the treatment, storage, transportation, and disposal of radioactive waste. These materials must be handled with extreme care, often requiring stabilization, solidification, or encapsulation to minimize the release of radioactive contaminants.
Furthermore, the disposal of high-level radioactive waste necessitates long-term planning and investment in geological repositories that can safely isolate the waste for thousands of years until its radioactivity decreases to safe levels.
Most plants that make things nowadays rely on a wide variety of chemicals, fuels, and complicated supplies. Some of the waste these ingredients generate is often toxic – meaning that you can’t put it in a normal landfill.
Toxic waste disposal companies can help you store, remove, and dispose of your toxic waste to keep your focus on what you do best.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), establishes the framework for the proper management of hazardous waste in the United States. Under RCRA, toxic waste must be correctly identified, classified, and treated before disposal. This often involves neutralizing the hazardous components, rendering them non-hazardous, or stabilizing them to prevent leaching into the environment.
Specialized facilities are equipped to handle the disposal of toxic waste, employing technologies such as incineration, chemical treatment, and secure landfilling. Incineration, for example, is used to destroy organic contaminants at high temperatures, while chemical treatment can neutralize acids, alkalis, and other hazardous compounds. Secure landfills are engineered with multiple layers of protection, including liners and leachate collection systems, to safely contain toxic waste and prevent it from entering the environment.
Acidic waste is any type of industrial waste that has corrosive qualities. These are extremely dangerous for humans to deal with because many types of acid can dig directly into someone’s skin and bone.
You’ll want to look into caustic waste disposal services for this type of waste. They have all the equipment and expertise necessary to dispose of your acidic waste safely.
Due to its hazardous nature, acidic waste can cause severe environmental damage if not properly neutralized before disposal. It can lead to the corrosion of infrastructure, harm aquatic life by lowering the pH of water bodies, and pose serious health risks to humans through skin or respiratory exposure.
The management and disposal of acidic waste require specialized treatment processes to ensure it is neutralized effectively. This often involves the use of neutralizing agents, such as lime or sodium hydroxide, to raise the pH to a safe level. The treatment process must be carefully controlled to avoid over-neutralization, which could create additional hazards.
Regulatory bodies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States, set strict guidelines for the handling, treatment, and disposal of hazardous waste, including acidic substances.
Some manufacturing facilities that deal with chemicals also create explosive industrial waste, which is considered to be any byproduct that can explode under certain conditions.
When you have this type of waste on your hands, you must be careful about storing it and removing it from your facility. Partnering with a company specializing in explosive waste disposal can help you do this more effectively.
In the United States, regulatory agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set forth guidelines and requirements for the safe handling and disposal of explosive materials. These regulations cover a broad spectrum of activities, including the transportation, storage, and destruction of explosive waste, requiring detailed documentation and compliance with safety standards.
Techniques for disposing of explosive waste vary depending on the type and sensitivity of the material and may include open detonation, where waste is safely exploded in a controlled area designed to contain the blast, or chemical neutralization, which involves rendering the explosive material inert through chemical reactions.
5. Solid Industrial Waste
Finally, not all types of industrial waste require special disposal practices. If the waste you create doesn’t fit into any of the other categories above, then it’s just standard industrial solid waste.
Industrial solid waste can often go directly to landfills or recycling plants, and you may be able to take care of that yourself without hiring another company. But it can still be useful to partner with a third-party provider – especially if you also generate some of the other types of waste on our list.
In many jurisdictions, regulations encourage or mandate the recycling and recovery of certain types of solid industrial waste to reduce the volume of waste sent to landfills and promote sustainable resource use. Recycling programs for materials like metal, paper, and plastic not only conserve natural resources but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with manufacturing new products from raw materials.
For waste that cannot be recycled, proper disposal in landfills is necessary. Modern landfills are engineered with protective liners and leachate collection systems to prevent environmental contamination. However, the availability of landfill space can vary significantly by region, and fees for landfill disposal can be a considerable expense for businesses.
Risks of Improperly Handling Industrial Waste
Mishandling industrial waste is something that you absolutely don’t want to do. Failing to handle your waste correctly could put your company at risk in more ways than one.
First, proper industrial hazardous waste disposal is essential because this type of waste is dangerous to humans. If one of your employees mishandles some of your waste and is injured by it, you could be liable for a lawsuit – especially if you don’t have good practices in place for this. Plus, nobody wants to see an employee injured in an easily preventable situation.
Additionally, local, state and federal governments have different legal requirements for the disposal of different types of industrial waste. If you violate these legal requirements, you could face hefty fines, leaving you with a limited budget for operating your business.
Risks like these are why it just makes more sense to focus on adequately handling industrial waste from the start. The longer you put off doing that, the more risk you’re assuming by doing so.
When to Get Help
If you generate industrial waste regularly, it’ll be vital to devise a repeatable practice for disposing of it safely and efficiently. Teaming with waste management companies like AOTC is the best way to do that.
We have years of experience in safely disposing of every type of industrial waste so that our clients can keep up their operations without worrying about it. We’d love to leverage our experience to do the same for you.
If you think you would benefit from partnering with an industrial waste management company, contact us today to learn more about how AOTC can help.