By Tory Clarke, Stericycle Canada
In many ways, hazardous waste is a bigger challenge for retailers than for manufacturers.
A small retail operation alone can carry a baffling array of hazardous wastes, such as paints, batteries, bleach, cleaners, detergents, pesticides, aerosol cans, fluorescent light bulbs, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, nail polish remover, hair dye, mascara, perfume—even electric toothbrushes and hand sanitizers!
And regulators are taking notice, too. Across North America, major retailers have been slapped recently with multimillion-dollar fines for non-compliance issues that range from illegal dumping to improper record-keeping.
While the financial costs are significant, the damage to your brand perception can be worse: news outlets and social media are quick to pick up on any perceived offences made by companies large and small.
Take six steps to keep your business safe
Your hazardous waste management program must take into account all of the unique needs of your business. You will want to consider the following steps:
- Assessment and store setup: This includes having a qualified person or company conduct an audit of the types and amounts of hazardous wastes that your business needs to have removed
- Employee training: You will want to have a system in place so that all employees know their responsibilities in terms of hazardous waste, from handling and sorting to documentation. Pay special attention to seasonal fluctuations in staffing levels, such as when you bring on summer students or extra help around the holidays.
- Waste separation/segregation: While part of your employee training must educate staff on how to separate hazardous waste types, it should also include training on what isn’t hazardous waste. When in doubt, employees often err on the side of caution and throw everything into the hazardous waste collection area. By ensuring that recyclable and landfill materials are not going into your hazardous waste stream, you can avoid unnecessary costs.
- Regulatory documentation and reporting: Hazardous waste needs to be properly documented. Companies have been fined for non-compliant reporting, even if they haven’t incorrectly disposed of anything. If your business operates across several provinces, you will want a provider that offers a national network, expertise in provincial requirements and consistent standards across Canada.
- Safe waste transport: While Canadian retailers aren’t currently held legally accountable if their waste removal service fails to dispose of a product safely, there is still the potential for damage to your brand if a mishap occurs. Choosing a reputable waste removal service —with training in the transport of dangerous goods—can offer you the peace of mind of knowing that, once the manifest has been signed off, you have the best chance of avoiding negative publicity down the road.
- Compliant, sustainable destruction: Compliant, documented destruction can prevent the diversion of “grey market” goods in your community, lowering the chances of your hazardous waste ending up being resold at a steep discount. As an added bonus, some providers offer sustainable options, such as repurposing hazardous materials, fuel blending or generating clean energy via incineration.
Get help from your waste removal provider
Finally, don’t forget that a good waste removal partner should be able to help you navigate every aspect of your compliance concerns, such as:
· Auditing and categorizing your waste streams
· Advising on compliance issues
· Helping to set up your hazardous waste collection area
· Training your staff
· Keeping track of your documentation requirements
· Reporting on your sustainability efforts
Partnering with an expert in hazardous waste removal can help ease your workload, lower your risk of non-compliance, protect your community, help achieve your zero-waste-to-landfill goals and, ultimately, save you money.
For more information
For more information and resources on hazardous waste disposal, visit stericycle.ca/retail.
As New Business Development and National Accounts Executive for Stericycle Canada, Tory Clarke has over 25 years of experience in the hazardous and non-hazardous waste disposal industry, with specialties in the industrial manufacturing, commercial/retail product and pharmaceutical sectors. She has assisted government agencies and initiatives, such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Ontario Provincial Police’s Drug Task Force and Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Service, with secure destruction programs for confiscated goods and illegal drugs. Tory also has a strong background in federal and provincial waste regulations, and specializes in zero-landfill disposal programs.
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