Plan, Implement and Review Waste Management Inspections for Speed, Efficiency, and Transparency
In the United States, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) touched over 290 million tons in 2018. About 25 million tons were composted, and nearly 70 million tons were recycled. In 2019 the total hazardous waste from large waste generators was almost 35 million tons, out of which about 29 million was wastewater. At such a massive scale of production and consumption in an industrialized country like the US, both non-hazardous solid and hazardous waste are significant challenges to tackle.
Waste Management is therefore highly regulated. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) provides the legal and regulatory framework for non-hazardous solid waste and hazardous waste management. It articulates protocols and describes guidelines for several processes like thermal treatment of solid wastes, their use as fuels, and the process for collection and storage of commercial, residential, and institutional waste. It also outlines procedures for source segregation, the criteria for municipal solid waste landfills, and the classification of waste disposal facilities. Likewise, it identifies and lists Hazardous waste and prescribes standards for waste generators, transporters, treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. Several inspection processes and forms are used at various points and for different waste management processes to ensure municipal and industrial waste is effectively managed with maximum potential for reuse and recycling, minimum loss of output, and the least risk to the health and wellbeing of the community.
Residual waste is a type of waste that has the potential for beneficial reuse and includes items like septage, wood ash, water treatment sludge, biosolids, and paper fiber. States have programs to oversee the collecting and processing of these waste products from municipal and industrial waste sources.
To ensure the environment is protected and citizens can live safely, federal and state programs outline how salvage yards must be operated, including issuing annual permits and conducting deep dive verifications and inquiries based on complaints raised by citizens. In addition, regular salvage yard inspections are conducted to ensure best practices are followed, and the yards comply with local regulations.
Non-hazardous solid wastes need their processes in terms of collection, transport, processing, etc. These typically include food waste, cans, bottles, jars, cardboard, paper, steel, glass, cardboard, aluminum, and other plastics. Some items are allowed in landfills, and others are strictly prohibited and must be recycled.
Garbage Equipment, Vehicles, and Receptacles
Garbage collection, segregation, transport, and processing involve various equipment and infrastructure. Waste is collected and taken to processing units, where it is further segregated, recycled, or disposed of, depending on the type of waste involved. Throughout this entire collection and transportation process, regular inspections are required to ensure that the vital pieces of equipment used are in proper working condition.
At the point of waste generation, waste receptacles are used to collect and store waste temporarily before it is loaded onto waste collection trucks for transport. Common receptacle types include sacks, bins, wheels, large dumpsters or containers for mechanical loading onto trucks, and even underground receptacles. Inspectors check if these receptacles are organized as needed to collect wet and dry waste separately and also include subcategories when required for recyclable material, toxic waste, and biodegradable organics. They also check the condition of the bins, the hygiene of the dumpsters’ immediate vicinity, and the presence of the proper holding racks and dollies for truck loading. Likewise, waste vehicles and trucks are inspected to audit the condition of their hydraulics, lifting arms, oil levels, engine fluids, vehicle battery, packer blades, etc.
Local authorities monitor spills, review spill reports, and conduct remediation measures to contain and manage the potential outcomes. Usually, spills must be reported if a hazardous waste of more than two gallons is spilled. Spills less than two gallons are also said if they pose an immediate threat to health, safety, and the environment. Inspectors conduct spill audits to observe and document the nature of the spill, the location, the type of material spilled, how the spill occurred, and the spill’s potential impact on the people in the vicinity and the environment. They also usually inspect the clean-up process to ensure that the correct environmental protection protocols are followed.
Companies often store petroleum and chemicals in underground or above-ground storage tanks. However, both these tanks pose risks if they leak or disseminate toxic material into the air, the underground water, or even poisonous vapor, which can enter confined spaces resulting in the potential for explosions and accidents. Therefore, inspectors assess these storage units to ensure they are robust, maintained adequately, and pose no risk of leakage. These inspections help protect human life, health, and the environment and enable companies to avoid expensive cleaning fees after uninsured incidents or releases.
Hazardous or toxic wastes can impact people, wildlife, plants, air, water, and almost everything it passes through. This poses significant risks to health, wellbeing, and the environment. Hazardous waste materials have specific properties which make them extremely dangerous, such as their corrosive nature, ignitibility, toxicity, or reactivity. Organizations considered generators of toxic waste must follow strict procedures to manage the generation, transportation, storage, treatment, recycling, and disposal of hazardous waste, used oil, and universal hazardous waste. Under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scope, several inspections are conducted to ensure these companies comply with the stated regulations according to their industry, waste material, and local laws. Inspectors validate waste shipping records, audit waste handling processes, check waste facility permits and treatment and disposal facilities, and review detailed waste management records to ensure compliance. In addition, inspectors conduct walkthroughs of facilities, examine waste material profiles, review past inspection records and inventory lists, and even audit employee training records and certifications to ensure they are qualified to handle toxic waste correctly. Such hazardous waste inspections are often unannounced to ascertain the ongoing quality of processes and the extent of compliance. Inspections usually span Compliance Assistance Visits (CAVs) to guide facilities on compliance requirements. Compliance Evaluation Inspections (CEIs) to assess the generator or handler’s level of compliance. Focused Compliance Inspections (FCIs) emphasize one particular aspect of regulatory compliance. Follow-up Inspections (FIUs) help tie up loose ends on audits and monitor corrective action taken from past audits.
Fielda – Redefining Waste Management Inspections
Waste Management inspections vary significantly in scope, process, and data collection methods. This depends on the industry being audited, the type of waste involved (non-hazardous or hazardous), and the state laws that apply. These inspections span waste collection, transport, storage, processing, and disposal. With Fielda, inspection teams can create and adapt inspection checklists enabling the flexibility they need. Fielda brings the power of digital transformation into waste management inspections. Its disruptive technology helps inspectors collect various types of data and manage the process pre and post-inspection to enable efficient collaboration between multiple stakeholders. Fielda is empowered with robust GIS functionality; this helps inspectors plot assets, equipment, and vehicles across facilities using accurate geolocation and mapping, enabling complete visibility and oversight. Its offline data capture enables seamless data gathering even in remote off-grid sites. Custom workflow management and instant data access allow inspectors to achieve massive time, cost, and outcome efficiencies through informed planning and execution.
We have helped rationale waste management inspections for several organizations to yield a significant investment return. Click here to schedule a walkthrough and explore how Fielda can help your team leverage the power of digital transformation.