Businesses across the country must take care to adhere to a variety of waste and recycling regulations. However, the lack of all-encompassing federal legislation surrounding waste management means that businesses need to stay compliant and aware of any local regulations that could affect their operations.
Given their hyper-localized nature, environmental regulations are always changing and often difficult to keep up with, even for the professionals responsible for managing this side of a business. Although it is difficult, environmental and waste compliance for businesses is crucial to operations.
What are the waste disposal regulations for businesses?
The best rule of thumb to determine the waste disposal regulations for a given business is to look local.
Your specific area may have laws surrounding any of the following:
- Mandatory recycling laws and landfill bans
Twenty-five states have implemented mandatory recycling laws. Check with your local government to determine the required materials in your area. Certain regulations will specifically ban a given material from entering the waste stream. One or more items in each state (except Montana) is banned from being sent to landfills. These vary state to state, and could include items such as batteries, aluminum cans, yard waste, and more.
- E-waste regulations
Electronic waste, or “e-waste,” is a frequent output of businesses in our increasingly tech-reliant society. Twenty-five states, plus the District of Columbia, currently have state-wide e-waste recycling programs. These programs either require the manufacturer of electronics to collect the waste, or the consumers to pay a recycling fee.
- Hazardous waste disposal
If your business produces or utilizes any form of hazardous waste, federal and local laws require specific disposal methods. This can include any products containing mercury, waste oil and gasoline, chemicals, or even certain paints. On a federal level, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) works to “manage hazardous wastes from cradle to grave.” This involves on-site evaluations and monitoring of hazardous waste handlers.
Why is waste compliance so important for businesses?
Environmental compliance is a necessary and responsible part of doing business. Plus, without a clear understanding of compliance requirements, and up-to-date information at federal, state, and local levels, your company could suffer in a number of ways.
Non-compliance is costly. Businesses can incur hefty fines or even a loss of business due to suspended operations. Plus, to reattain or gain compliance after being penalized, businesses may need to outsource legal help.
Non-compliance also leads to a damaged reputation. By not participating in waste and other environmental regulations, your business could ruin its brand perception. This leads to damaged relationships with a wide range of constituents: from vendors, to customers, to communities.
Ensuring compliance for businesses
Rubicon wants to make waste compliance for businesses simple.
The new RegWatch digital platform helps businesses keep track of compliance requirements—from municipal to local regulations—from a single, easy-to-use portal that’s accessible from both desktop and mobile devices.
The platform provides real-time updates that help businesses both track and understand potential compliance risks. This includes a summary of how certain regulations can affect your business, either big picture or site-by-site.
From 2008 to 2018, annual regulatory alerts increased by more than 550 percent in the United States and worldwide. Is your business prepared?