Consequences of Improper Waste Disposal

5 Devastating Consequences of Improper Waste Disposal: Part I

For generators of any size, successfully managing a waste disposal program can be extremely challenging. Between training employees on protocols and remaining in compliance with ever-changing local, state and federal regulations while being cost efficient, it can seem impossible to manage with so many moving parts. But the consequences of mishandled waste can cause irreparable damage not only to your employees and your business, but far beyond. If you are responsible for your company’s waste removal, know that the cost of noncompliance far outweighs the cost of properly disposing of your waste products. Be sure you have a deep familiarity with regulations, or contact experts like those at Enviro-Safe Resource Recovery to support you and avoid these five devastating risks of improper waste disposal.

Risk 1: Human Health 

Your employees, neighbors and the public are all counting on you to remain in compliance with waste disposal regulations. Why? Because not doing so puts their health at risk. Explosions, spills and exposures have far-reaching implications for human health. Chief among concerns of improper waste management are exposures to harmful chemicals, infectious pathogens like antibiotic-resistant E. coli, heavy metals from industrial waste, and more through the municipal water supply. Failing to identify and dispose of hazardous materials your company is purchasing or manufacturing can lead to fires, skin wounds, chemical reactions and more that put your employees’ well-being at risk, and in tragic cases, can cost them their lives. Mishandling radioactive waste can cause severe injuries such as burns or cancer. Failure to properly dispose of medical waste like needles can lead to HIV and hepatitis B exposure. Water, air and soil are all subject to being polluted by improper waste disposal, leading to health epidemics like Cholera or Dysentery in a population.  Improper disposal can also cause harmful mutations in plants and affect food supply. Because the potential threats to human health are so severe, generators must be experts in waste disposal protocols and regulations. If you lack this expertise in house, consider consulting professionals like those at Enviro-Safe to assist you in properly recycling, transporting and waste disposal. 

Risk 2: Fines and Legal Liabilities 

Being in violation of federal and state laws risks not only the environment and human health, but it also jeopardizes your financial stability. In some cases, companies and individuals might even face criminal charges and prison time. But how strictly are environmental laws enforced? What are the potential long-term consequences? 

In fact, waste removal and treatment regulations are becoming increasingly strict. In 2017, the EPA reported a staggering number of violations, with a total of 153 years of incarceration for individual defendants in violation of environmental laws, plus fines of $2,829,202,563 for individuals and corporations in noncompliance. They also reported $3,092,631 in court-ordered environmental projects and $147,520,585 in restitution. On a more local level, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources states enforcement penalties for noncompliance may be up to $25,000 per day per violation. In addition to fines and potential criminal charges, companies may also suffer long-term financial consequences for improper waste management. Failed inspections by the EPA, OSHA, RCRA and more are not only costly because of fines, lawsuits and increased insurance premiums, but they can also lead to financial inefficiencies due to shutdowns and decreased productivity. 

The truth is, most businesses simply cannot afford to take risks with their waste disposal programs. Simply being ignorant of environmental laws is not considered an excuse. If your company is found in violation of environmental laws, you will be subject to the same consequences and fines, whether you understood the laws or not. Instead of risking your company’s financial stability, invest in training for your employees. Enviro-Safe Resource Recovery offers customized training for your business on topics ranging from DOT hazardous materials, RCRA waste management and more to help you avoid noncompliance. Avoiding accidents and following regulations not only reduces human suffering, but is ultimately good for business.

Contact the experts at Enviro-Safe today to help you mitigate risks for your industrial waste disposal programs, and check back on our blog next week to read 5 Devastating Consequences of Improper Waste Disposal: Part II