The collection and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste can be a challenging process, especially if you don’t quite understand the fundamentals of the process. Considering you could deal with high-risk materials, it’s crucial you follow the handling requirements designated by the state and practice compliant drum waste disposal.
When a process that has so many steps and potential risks, it’s natural to have questions. The more answers you have, the better your company can deal with waste management. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the disposal of drum waste:
1. What Is Non-Hazardous and Hazardous Waste?
All companies produce waste, and classifying waste as hazardous or non-hazardous can lead to a big difference in disposal costs. Here are the key differences between the two.
Non-hazardous waste poses no harm to personal health or the environment. It includes garbage, refuse, and sludge that are created from a variety of industries, including industrial, commercial, mining, agriculture, construction, and municipalities. Non-hazardous waste comes in solid, liquid, or semi-solid states. It includes commercial products or by-products of the manufacturing process. This is a type of waste usually found in roll-off containers because it is generally safe.
Hazardous waste, on the other hand, has the potential to be dangerous or harmful to your health or the environment. This category of waste is comprised of liquids, solids, gases or sludge. It includes commercial products or by-products of the manufacturing process, such as:
- Ignitable substances: Anything that catches on fire and produces flames when exposed to heat, such as gasoline, cooking grease or propane.
- Corrosive materials: Any acid, base or substance containing an acid or base, including batteries and drain cleaner.
- Contaminated soils: Soil can often have traces of metals, pesticides, arsenic, mercury, and lead contaminants. These forms of contamination typically sink into the soil surrounding foundries, agricultural centers, mining areas, and paint factories.
- Reactive waste: If a material or substance shows reactivity to heat, pressure or water, such as producing toxic vapors, gases or fumes, it is classifiable as hazardous waste. It’s called reactive waste because it’s considered unstable. Some cyanides and sulfide-inclusive substances classify as reactive.
If your company produces or handles any of these substances in your processes, you need to deal with this hazardous waste according to state and federal laws.
2. How to Choose the Right Containers
When choosing the proper container to store the waste that your business produces, there are a few factors that need to be considered to ensure proper safety practices.
- Hazardous and non-hazardous waste materials can be stored and transported in pails, drums and transportation containers, like tankers or railcars
- Containers should be durable, weather-resistant, and corrosion-resistant
- The proper container needs to be compatible with the materials being stored. For example, highly-corrosive materials should be stored in plastic drums or plastic-lined steel drums. Steel drums work best for non-corrosive and flammable liquids.
- If you are reusing drums for waste storage, it’s important to know if the previously stored materials and current materials are compatible or non-compatible. A suggestion from the EPA, if you frequently reuse containers, consider “assigning” wastes to certain containers.
3. How to Store Toxic Waste Safely
Depending on your business, how much waste you produce and what type, you may collect it over time and opt for less frequent, larger-scale transfers to waste facilities. In some cases, it’s a more cost-effective or convenient option. Whether you dispose of your waste quickly or you bulk up waste material to be removed by the trailer load, you need to ensure it’s safely and properly stored on your premises.
To ensure your stored containers comply with EPA standards, you should:
- Follow all requirements on proper labeling, such as including written confirmation of the type and amount of hazardous waste within each container.
- Keep containers sealed to prevent release and other materials to enter/contaminate.
- Store containerized waste in an area that’s clearly marked, is inaccessible to unauthorized personnel and prevents contamination.
- Establish a storage area that is a sufficient distance from surface water as well as your facility in the case of ignitable and reactive wastes.
- Ensure adequate training for all employees, even if their day-to-day tasks do not include waste management.
- Consistently inspect the outsides of containers for signs of damage or aging — keep an eye out for anything that might pose a risk of leakage.
These standards and actions will help keep your storage practices within the required safety regulations and make the containers easier to transfer once it comes time to dispose of them. If you consistently produce a large amount of waste, you may need to schedule regular drum waste pickups.
4. How To Dispose of Waste Drums
Businesses large and small create waste. From solvents and oils to pesticides and commercial chemicals, hazardous waste needs to be contained and disposed of properly.
The key to safe disposal of containerized waste, whether hazardous or non-hazardous, is ensuring that your containers are Department of Transportation (DOT) shippable. That means ensuring that proper classification labels are applied and that the containers are not rusting, do not have leaks, and have proper lids. For smaller containers like pails or drums, you can use an overpack to ensure they meet safety requirements for transport.
There are a number of options for sustainable disposal of containerized waste. If a company can’t find a way to reuse the waste in their own production process, other waste disposal methods include:
- Recycling: Used synthetic and refined crude oils can often be recycled and reused in a variety of ways.
- Third-party: Finding a third party that can use your waste as part of their industry process helps you recycle waste and saves them money on purchasing raw materials.
- Waste to energy: Through incineration, facilities can repurpose waste as an energy source.
- Landfill disposal: Any waste that cannot be refined and repurposed will go to landfills.
5. How Do You Dispose of Empty Hazardous Materials Containers?
While containers that have held hazardous waste require proper care, they aren’t necessarily considered in the same way as hazardous waste itself. If the containers comply with the federally regulated definition of “empty,” they do not need to be managed as hazardous waste. Once cleaned to the standards set by the RCRA, hazardous materials containers can be disposed of the same way as non-hazardous. However, they still require caution, as residue still holds a risk of ignition, reactivity or contamination.
Chemical drum recycling facilities can take care of your hazardous materials containers with relative ease. Even if there is residual waste in the drum, tank or portable waste tote, the right facilities will know how to handle them with care. Just be sure to label the kind of waste that was previously in the container.
6. How Do You Dispose of a 55-Gallon Drum?
In the storage and transportation of various liquids, 55-gallon drums are a commonly used container. They’re functional in a broad array of industries, holding anything from sauces used in food preparation to industrial chemicals. Because they are such a common choice for waste containment, they should also be diligently reused and recycled. Doing so reduces production costs and is an environmentally friendly option.
The first step to disposing of these drums is determining whether or not they are suitable for reuse. In the repurposing process, you have to take the following steps:
- Contents: First, you’ll need to figure out what the drum held before it was empty. Drums that contained non-hazardous materials, such as food or water-soluble soaps, are safe to begin prepping. However, if a drum previously held hazardous chemicals, it needs thorough cleansing.
- Clean: Once you have determined whether or not the drum is safe to reuse, you should give it a thorough cleansing. Use the triple-rinse method and prep it to be used for another purpose.
- Inspect: After the drum is clean, you need to look it over for any potential damage. Check the surfaces for any weak points, dents, cracks, leaks, rust spots or small holes that might compromise your product. If the drum does have significant damage, you may not be able to store liquids in it any longer. However, you may still be able to use it for storing items that don’t need an airtight seal, such as compost materials, rags or rocks.
If the drum is too damaged or you no longer have a use for it, you need to dispose of it properly. Many local plastics recycling centers and environmental services agencies will accept drums. They need to be clean and had not previously been used to hold hazardous materials. If it did at one point contain hazardous material, you’ll need to contact a local hazardous waste agency. There is likely a facility for 55-gallon drum recycling near you.
Choose ERC for Waste Drum Disposal
If you need disposal or recycling for your 55-gallon drums and totes liquid waste disposal containers, you can count on ERC. We set ourselves apart from the competition because:
- We’re the processor, eliminating the middlemen equals lower pricing: At ERC, we have the facilities and resources required to complete every step of waste disposal. As a result, you won’t have to pay for multiple service providers.
- You’ll get turn-key service with a single call — drum pickup, compliance, transportation, disposal, drum drop-off, and testing/sampling: We develop custom and comprehensive solutions that can achieve your waste disposal goals. Let us take care of every step so that you can focus on other aspects of your business.
- We handle 55-gallon drums, totes, pallets, pails and other containerized waste: Your Account Executive can also help you choose DOT-compliant and safe containers for your waste. Our versatile capabilities let us manage a variety of containerized wastes for each business.
- Our team disposes of all waste, including solvents, oils and chemical waste, per EPA regulations: We dedicate ourselves to compliance and promoting sustainability for a better world. When we provide waste solutions, we ensure that everything we do complies with local, state and federal regulations.
- We serve machine shops, manufacturers and any other businesses that need professional waste drum disposal services: Our industries served include manufacturing, construction, pharmaceutical, marine transport and oil and gas. The ERC team has experience working with a wide range of companies and sectors.
- One drum or 1,000 — no job is too small or too large: We can scale our services to fit your company’s requirements, whether you need less-than-load transport or bulk removal. Our experience with companies of multiple sizes gives us the resources and skills needed to accommodate your requirements.
Count on ERC to manage your containerized waste disposal in a compliant, sustainable and efficient manner. We perform all of our services with safety/compliance, respect, integrity and customer focus.
7. What Does Waste Disposal Cost?
When it comes to safely moving and disposing of your containerized waste, the best option is to seek help from a waste management business. Their crew will have the training and knowledge necessary to handle the process efficiently and within the state guidelines. But when it comes to costs, the pricing can vary. It depends on the company you choose to work with, the services they provide, the state you’re in, the type of waste and several other factors.
One of the most variable costs in the waste disposal process is transportation. For one, not all waste recycling and disposal facilities also have shipping available. The services can either be from an independent business or from a management company that also offers waste hauling. Either way, transportation costs depend on several factors:
- The company you work with: As most prices do, transportation fees will vary from company to company. You should seek out a qualified, reputable business, but keep in mind high cost doesn’t inherently mean quality service. If the price seems too high, especially as compared to similar companies and the industry standard, it may be an attempt to overcharge. On the other hand, while you should also search for a company that will be within your budget, pricing that seems too low may indicate a compromise in terms of quality.
- The type of waste: Not all waste is charged equally. Regardless of the company you choose, non-hazardous, residual containerized wastes and dry freight will always cost less than the hazardous varieties in terms of transportation and disposal. Non-hazardous waste transportation can cost as little as half the price of the same services for hazardous or non-residual containerized waste. This disparity is due to several reasons, one being liability concerns. If a transporter is involved in an accident, cleanup and damages from the incident will be far less drastic if they were hauling non-hazardous waste.
- What level of training the transporter has: In addition to the liability factor, the type of waste you need to be transported will also dictate the level of training the transporter has gone through. Those who are certified to haul hazardous materials go through thorough training before they are allowed to operate a vehicle containing the higher-risk materials. On the other end, training for hauling non-hazardous substances is far less intensive. Due to the requirements, qualifications and risks for hazardous waste transporters, the costs will be higher for companies using their services.
- Whether your transportation services are independent or included: The transportation costs will also vary based on whether you work with a waste disposal company that owns and operates a fleet of trucks or if you work with an outside transporter and separate disposal facility. If you can select a company with transportation services, rather than outsourcing, you may be able to minimize your costs. Working with separate businesses means more fees at each stage of the process and less room for striking a deal. If you need an emergency pickup, the company may need to employ an outside transporter due to the short notice. The time frame and outside hire will increase pricing but may also be your only option.
- Any additional charges: While the pricing will vary within different geographic regions, you will likely be charged per drum, rather than in a single lump sum. In either case, the transportation company may also require you to pay one or several fees. Some examples are a stop charge and a fuel surcharge, which can include an energy fee and fuel insurance. These added charges are up to each company, but most will stick close to industry standards. Too high or low of a charge could cause them to lose business to competitors.
To find the best pricing for your company’s needs, you’ll need to do your research. Look into each local candidate’s certifications and track records to see whether or not their services reach your quality standards. Once you’ve found a few that suit your requirements, you can inquire about pricing and go from there.
Oil Drum Waste Management
Managing oil drums under waste regulations requires a lot of care and attention. In most states, it’s nearly impossible to meet EPA standards by doing it yourself. You need specified training and permits. It’s more straightforward and cost-effective to hire a waste management company or TSDF to take care of your oil drum disposal.
Generators — that is, those who create the waste oil — are only legally allowed to transport 55 gallons of waste to approved collection centers at a time. They have to use a vehicle they own, or one of their employees owns. For businesses that produce more significant amounts of waste, being restricted to only taking one drum per trip can be a nuisance. However, the regulation is in place for good reason, as most generators aren’t trained in hauling waste safely.
When it comes to managing used oil, EPA standards encourage “good housekeeping” practices, which require facilities to put recycling before disposal. If oil can be reused, refined for secondary use or repurposed for a different task, handlers are supposed to do so rather than dispose of it. This standard reinforces the importance of environmental protection and reducing the adverse effects of waste and pollutants. However, it only applies to substances that classify as used oil.
To meet the EPA’s definition of what classifies as used oil, you must pay attention to several specific requirements, regarding:
- Origin: Used oil does not include any products with animal or vegetable origins. All oils that classify have to have been produced synthetically or refined from crude oil supplies.
- Use: The oil has to have been used for some purpose akin to buoyants, heat transfer fluids, hydraulic fluids and lubricants. The classification excludes any kind of virgin fuel oil, cleaning agents, oils used as solvents and some products derived from petroleum, such as kerosene and antifreeze.
- Contaminants: Any oil classified as used must contain some sort of contaminant from the process of being used, including residues and impurities from storage, processing and handling. Contaminants include physical forms, such as dirt, sawdust or metal shavings, and chemical forms, such as salt water, solvents and halogens.
If the substance counts as used oil, it can be recycled rather than sent straight to disposal.
As for the drum itself, state and federal agencies like the EPA also encourage 55-gallon drum recycling. Drums are reusable as long as the waste they once held has been emptied adequately in correspondence with RCRA requirements and if the container does not have any significant damage. If the drums are not fit for reuse due to holes, leaks, rust or other damages, it may be best to recycle them as scrap metal. They still need to be cleaned to the same standards beforehand.
Drum Waste Recycling and Sustainability
Hazardous waste is known for being toxic for the environment and humans close to it. Hauling hazardous solid or liquid waste disposal containers to a trustworthy facility ensures the toxins are sorted, transported, treated and disposed of properly. However, that doesn’t mean the correct disposal methods don’t also take an economic and environmental toll.
The EPA requires all waste treatment facilities to recycle all the materials they can. Oil drum recycling practices provide several options for reuse, are beneficial in multiple ways and remain well-regulated.
1. What Is Hazardous Waste Recycling?
Even if hazardous waste is used or the result of production, it can be recycled in one of several ways. It can be reused as an ingredient in a future process, reclaimed or used as a form of combustible energy after disposal. Here’s a breakdown of the recycling options:
- Reuse: Reusing hazardous waste is just as it sounds. After collection, the waste is used again in industrial processes in some way, typically to create a new product. Alternatively, it can effectively substitute another commercial product within the process.
- Reclamation: For hazardous waste to be considered reclaimed, it has to be processed or regenerated. Processing works to salvage a usable product from the waste.
- Use constituting disposal: This form of recycling takes wastes or products that contain elements of waste and uses them by depositing them directly on land. An example of this would be asphalt that contains petroleum-refining wastes.
- Burning for energy recovery: By burning waste, you can also be recycling it. Some types of waste have value directly as fuel or for fuel production. Incinerating the waste allows for energy production and recovery. It’s also an effective method of disposal.
2. What Are the Benefits?
Recycling waste is beneficial for several reasons. Between the efforts of reusing, recycling and reclaiming waste, companies and facilities can help with natural resource and environmental protection, reduce the level of reliance manufacturers have on raw materials and improve economic standards. Two of the most significant areas of potential benefit are in the environmental and economic fields.
Recycling hazardous waste can help protect the environment by:
- Minimizing the amounts of raw materials needed for various production processes: Many recycled forms of waste are suitable substitutes for raw materials in the manufacturing industry. The undertaking of extracting, refining, transporting and processing raw materials negatively impacts the environment by way of pollutants and energy use. Recycling waste helps lessen the need for raw materials, resulting in less pollution.
- Reducing overall energy use by way of replacing raw materials: In place of obtaining unprocessed, raw materials for manufacturing products, companies are looking towards recycling hazardous waste. It lowers the amount of energy used to mine raw material, which decreases the demand for energy, meaning less burning of fossil fuels and a reduction in emitted greenhouse gases (GHGs). Less GHGs also means a cleaner atmosphere and a smaller impact on climate change.
- Reducing the amount of hazardous waste that must go through treatment and disposal processes: By recycling waste rather than getting rid of it, you’ll help reduce the volume of hazardous waste that passes through treatment facilities, dumped in landfills and put through incinerators.
- Decreasing waste and production pollution: Processing and treating hazardous waste produces pollutants. In cutting down the amount of waste that goes straight to disposal rather than being recycled, you can also help minimize pollution.
On top of the environmental benefits, there are also notable economic advantages:
- Boosting cost-efficiency: Recycling waste allows companies to reduce their overall spending. It enables them to purchase fewer raw materials for production, and they won’t need to spend as much on waste management services. It’ll also help boost production efficiency.
- Avoiding the need for waste regulations: The more well-versed a company is in waste recycling, the more they can benefit from it. If a business can effectively integrate a closed-loop system where they recycle all the waste they create, they can eliminate their hazardous material generation. When there is no excess waste to dispose of, the business will no longer be subject to RCRA regulations and requirements.
- Establishing a positive reputation: While it is a more indirect form of benefit, companies can improve their reputation by adopting a green mentality and mission. Recycling any kind of material, especially hazardous waste and other harmful pollutants, will present an image of concern for environmental safety. Companies that show they value forms of philanthropy will garner favor among communities and distinguish themselves from close competitors.
3. How Is It Regulated?
The RCRA sets the regulations for the proper management and disposal of hazardous waste. The EPA monitors and enforces these regulations, and created the RCRA program to accompany the law. The EPA makes the minimum guidelines legally enforceable. From there, states can implement these minimums and even make their policies more strict, as long as they meet the national requirements.