The health, legal, and environmental liabilities endemic to hazmat make it crucial that both its generators and managers be more than merely conversant with the best practices, applicable law, and technological trends affecting both solid and hazardous waste disposal.
Thereby, the advisability of aligning yourself (and your enterprise) with one or more nationally recognized industry associations is patent; and so we’ve listed for your consideration four nationally prominent associations that we think should be on your professional radar.
- The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA)
Although not specifically dedicated to hazardous waste removal, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is arguably the premier professional association concerning solid waste management. The association promotes itself as “an organization of professionals committed to advancing from solid waste management to resource management through (our) shared emphasis on education, advocacy, and research.”
With a 50-year history and membership in excess of 9,000 across the United States and Canada, the association offers numerous conferences, certification programs, publications, and technical training courses. It’s also a resource for networking events, advocacy, and safety resources.
SWANA has 45 regional chapters led by volunteers. Their stated goal is to keep SWANA members informed about pertinent concerns and trends regarding solid-waste management while simultaneously educating and advising local elected officials about industry issues.
Regional chapters host tours, events, in-person and online training opportunities, Road-E-O Competitions, golf outings, and other informal networking events. Specific membership information is available here.
- North America Hazardous Materials Management Association (NAHMMA)
Specific to hazardous wastes emanating from households and small businesses, the North America Hazardous Materials Management Association (NAHMMA) concerns itself with pollution prevention, product stewardship, safety, and cost-effective hazardous waste management.
As disposing hazardous waste from households and small businesses goes largely unregulated by local, regional, and national agencies across the United States, NAHMMA is dedicated to providing guidance about best practices for doing so. Product manufacturers, government regulators, and hazardous waste professionals make up the target audience.
NAHMMA promotes itself as “a diverse network of professionals working together to promote education, guide good policy, protect our environment, and advance hazardous waste management practices throughout North America.” Articulated goals include promotion of product stewardship, building consensus among hazardous waste professionals, and keeping pollutants out of municipal waste streams.
NAHMMA chapters exist where there are at least eight interested members in a geographic area. NAHMMA membership provides access to training, industry resources, news feeds, and opportunities to network with hazardous waste management professionals nationwide. Specific membership information is available here.
- National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA)
The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) exists for collection and post-collection waste & recycling “service” professionals (e.g. waste/recycling collection, landfill management, and composting operations) as well as “suppliers” (i.e. businesses that manufacture equipment or design technology for waste/recycling collection and processing).
The association promotes itself as working “to make trash collection, processing, and disposal operations safer through training, promoting best practices, advancing safety legislation, and setting industry equipment standards.”
NWRA offers conferences, webinars, and certification courses across such topics as safe driver certification, temporary worker training, and landfill operator certification. Award programs honor best drivers, innovative technologies and practices, environmental stewardship, and exemplary leadership.
Operating in all 50 states, NWRA chapters exit across five U.S. regions: Midwest, Northeast, Sun Belt, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. There’s also an International chapter.
- National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP)
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 led to the formation of the EPA, and in so doing created a need for “environmental professionals.” Thereby, the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) was formed to define, organize, and set standards for persons aspiring to the “environmental professional” distinction across a variety of related trades and expertise.
Aimed at decision-making professionals in both the public and private sectors who desire knowledge about the environmental, social, and economic impacts of those decisions, the NAEP promotes itself as dedicated to “developing the highest standards of ethics and proficiency in the environmental professions” and endeavors to be “the primary source of unbiased information on environmental practices.”
The association also endeavors to support the career advancement of its membership through conferences, awards, scholarships, publications, and other resources.
There are five categories of membership:
General Membership requires an undergraduate degree or alternatively three-years of working experience in the environmental field.
- Associate Membership is open to individuals who are unqualified for General Membership.
- Senior Membership is for individuals 65 years or older.
- Student Membership is limited to full-time students pursuing an environmental career.
- Corporate Membership is for private companies and government agencies.