“Industrial waste” can include a wide variety of substances, some hazardous and some not. This article provides Q&As about analyzing and industrial waste management, the different types of raw materials that input your manufacturing processes, as well as what kinds of wastes they create, including:
What is considered industrial waste?
What is considered nonhazardous industrial waste?
Are “listed wastes” and industrial wastes the same thing?
Which industrial wastes require hazardous waste disposal?
Should you treat all industrial waste as RCRA hazardous?
What are the different kinds of “industrial nonhazardous waste?”
Where can you get knowledgeable advice about how and where to dispose of industrial waste?
1. What is considered industrial waste?
You might think this would be a simple question with a straightforward answer. Not exactly, so let us begin…
“Industrial waste” is often called “manufacturing waste.” But if you check the EPA’s official glossary, you’ll find neither “manufacturing waste” nor “industrial waste.” Hunt further, and you’ll stumble across “industrial nonhazardous waste,” which is defined as:
“Waste generated from processes associated with the production of goods and products, such as electric power generation and manufacturing of materials such as pulp and paper, iron and steel, glass, and concrete.”
So, when EPA denizens talk about industrial waste, it would seem logical that they’re referring to something that’s nonhazardous, given their own terminology. But the literature is rampant with casual references to “industrial wastes” that include solids contaminated with oils, solvents, and chemicals, which are very much hazardous.
The fact is, when people throw around the term “industrial waste,” they’re likely including hazardous wastes: materials that better not show up in your municipal waste stream.
2. What is considered nonhazardous industrial waste?
“Nonhazardous industrial wastes” include a potpourri of materials that are secondary to the production of goods and products but nonhazardous per the EPA regulations, and so ostensibly not requiring hazardous waste disposal.
But what often appears environmentally innocent to the layperson might nonetheless be deemed to need special handling of environmental services by the EPA, OSHA, DOT, or some state or local bureaucracy.
For example, concrete is an industrial solid waste that doesn’t require hazardous waste management.
But dust from grinding concrete requires special handling per the OSHA Table I Compliance, which lists rules about occupational exposures to “respirable crystalline silica in construction work.”
Other industrial wastes that might or might not require special handling are antifreeze, sulfuric acid, coolant, ash, grinding dust, sludges, and liquids contaminated with nonhazardous chemicals.
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3. Are “listed wastes” and industrial wastes the same thing?
Absolutely not. But listed wastes are sometimes called “industrial wastes,” which is incorrect. Loosely speaking, waste that comes from a factory might be “industrial waste,” as explained above (see Q.1). But if waste is a “listed” material or P-listed waste, which the EPA defines as “pure and commercial grade formulations of certain unused chemicals that are being disposed,” then it’s “hazardous waste.”
So as we’re prone to advice when considering where to dispose of industrial waste, it’s crucial to get expert advice.
4. Which industrial wastes require hazardous waste disposal?
Some examples of industrial wastes that require hazardous waste disposal are hydraulic oil, paint residues and cleaners, tires, and electrical components. So are food wastes, animal remains, empty chemical containers, and infectious wastes.
Since such industrial wastes are RCRA hazardous, you must evaluate the different types of raw materials that go into your manufacturing processes and what kinds of waste each creates.
This information is crucial for keeping hazardous materials out of your nonhazardous waste streams, which you’re bound to do by law. But it also can provide a budgetary benefit (See Q.5).
5. Should you treat all industrial waste as RCRA hazardous?
If you mix a pound of nonhazardous waste with a pound of hazmat, you’ll get two pounds of hazmat, spuriously doubling your hazardous waste disposal costs. So, ensuring that only what’re genuinely RCRA hazardous winds up in your hazardous waste stream is the first step toward controlling your hazardous waste management costs.
6. What are the different kinds of “industrial nonhazardous waste?”
Paper, plastic, wood, cardboard, packaging materials, and scrap metal are paradigms of what the EPA means by “industrial nonhazardous waste” if not contaminated with hazardous waste.
But be careful!
Chemical wastes are sometimes referred to as industrial wastes. These can easily be substances listed as hazardous by the EPA or might be considered as such for being “characteristically” ignitable, corrosive material, toxic, reactive, or explosive.
Another complication surrounding industrial solid waste is that it can contain “liquid wastes” that are semisolid—E.g., fats, oils, greases, or FOG and sludges that might or might not be hazardous.
Industrial processes typically require large amounts of water, which might become contaminated with hazardous materials like these.
In such cases, a business or factory must apply wastewater treatment before the water’s discharged into the local POTW.
7. Where can you get knowledgeable advice about how and where to dispose of industrial waste?
Hazardous Waste Experts is one of the nation’s most trusted hazardous waste management companies. We will partner with you to analyze the types of waste you’re generating and provide expert advice about what is considered industrial waste, including RCRA requirements for containerization, storage, transportation, and disposal.
Get expert advice today on your industrial waste management. Or call 877.200.2029