Empowered Waste Management: On Demand Chemical & Safety Data

Hazardous Waste
October 08, 2019
By Alan L. Johnson

Compliance with global hazardous waste regulations and prioritized “zero waste to landfill” goals are top-of-mind for companies worldwide. Businesses are hard-pressed to improve waste management and monitoring through all stages. This begins with product development and continues through use, transportation, treatment and storage and disposal.

Effective compliance begins with streamlining and simplifying the waste management process enterprise-wide through one central system. This enables companies to easily abide by hazardous waste regulations governing generation, handling, transportation and disposal. As a result, “zero waste to landfill” targets within sustainability initiatives can be achieved.

The Information You Need, When You Need It

The Enablon Waste Management software solution combined with chemical property and Safety Data Sheet (SDS) data enables companies to manage and reduce waste while ensuring regulatory compliance and improving environmental or sustainability performance. Waste occurs in different contexts with varying degrees of severity. Global organizations with complex operations must address waste efficiently while managing risks proactively. To meet this challenge head-on, companies need accurate, real-time data at their fingertips. Interactive, mobile-ready, collaborative solutions that track, monitor and report waste are essential to EHS performance. What is just as important is making sure one has all the correct hazard, exposure and safety data for the waste that is being created, stored, reported, hauled and ultimately disposed of.

Up in Flames

At the beginning of this year Waste 360 published an article explaining that during the past 12 months the waste and recycling industry experienced 371 reported fires in both the U.S. and Canada. Furthermore, based on reasonable assumptions, they could extrapolate that the 1,800-plus facility fires that occurred during that time comprised more than 40% of the industry, based on the number of facilities reported by the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF).

The article concluded that these fires are not only occurring at materials recovery facilities (MRFs) and transfer stations, but at scrap metal, construction and demolition (C&D), paper, plastic, chemical and organics recycling operations, and are caused by a list of fire hazards, including, but not limited to, lithium-ion batteries, pressurized tanks and containers, fuels, fertilizers, propane tanks, aerosols and more.

Thankfully companies are becoming more empowered to identify employee risks across the value-chain and to keep them safe. While the trend is taking hazards and safety precautions seriously, there are still organizations who suffer from not having the correct chemical or safety data needed to protect workers and the general public. Take for example ABC 15 in Arizona who covered a story about an accident related to a bio-hazard waste hauling company. They mentioned that emergency personnel who showed up to the scene had no clue what the gaseous substance leaking out of the truck was. The investigative report went on to show that the truck had no placards or manifest on board despite carrying several 55-gallon drums of a phosphorus-water mixture and many gallons of other flammable chemicals. It was later determined that the phosphorous is likely what caused the smoke.

Be the Change

Recently there has been a fundamental shift in the way that companies approach waste from a product development point of view. Understanding the hazardous ingredients in a product and looking to create a greener alternative is becoming commonplace. This is driven deliberately by the market and consumers. Take for example NGO pressures like Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ Mind the Store campaign which rates retailers on the amount of hazardous chemicals allowed on their shelves. Or examine the clear research that shows younger generations like millennials are buying more eco-friendly products.

This shift in social pressure is already exhibited by retailers such as Walmart, Target and Amazon who have become proactive in removing products from their shelves that contain certain known hazardous substances. These are all reasons why having more accurate hazard, exposure, and safety data is important for mitigating waste from the beginning of a product’s lifecycle.

Moreover, the rise of e-commerce is also creating additional pressure on businesses to better understand what is in the products sold through their portals. With tens of thousands of SKUs exploding into hundreds of thousands or millions of SKUs in the e-commerce world, businesses need systems with the correct content, not people, to control and/or prevent waste streams.

Managing waste streams is certainly becoming more challenging throughout industries worldwide. Scarcity, social pressure and the need to be more sustainable are pervading most product lines. The need for a central management system and the correct data to govern these key business workflows is a must.

Whether you are looking to mitigate the amount of hazardous waste you produce, stay in compliance with global hazardous waste regulations or focus on “zero waste to landfill” goals as a sustainability initiative, the Enablon and Verisk 3E solution can give you an integrated waste management solution that brings the best hazard, exposure and safety data for the waste that is being created, stored, reported, hauled and ultimately disposed of.

Author

Alan Johnson Portrait

Alan L. Johnson

Director of Portfolio Management and Strategic Alliances