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The Retailer’s Responsibility for Waste Compliance is Growing

Hazardous waste compliance is no longer a concern only for the manufacturing and industrial companies; it has become an area of responsibility for retailers as well. When it comes to the management of hazardous waste, retailers are caught in a precarious balancing act.

Following many high profile fines, retailers are now forced to take responsibility of how they handle their waste; otherwise, they will be risking their brand name, and subsequently, their sales.

Impact of Retailers’ Operations on the Environment

One of the challenges that these businesses are facing at a retail level are geographic variances. The definitions of which materials are considered hazardous differ from federal, state and county levels, and are constantly changing with environmental, political and economic pressures.

Coastal regions have always been the frontrunners of hazardous waste compliance due to their proximity to coastlines and watersheds. Now, many landlocked areas are increasing their regulatory oversight. The EPA is pursuing increased compliance at a national level. These factors contribute to an increased vulnerability for retailers.

New Laws and Guidelines Are Being Placed on Retailers

Federal and state agencies are tasking retailers with adhering to regulations originally designed for the manufacturing industry, which pertains to a drastically smaller set of materials and is better able to store and separate hazardous waste. The process of reporting, tracking, managing, and disposing of hazardous waste present more significant challenges for retailers.

Household products provided by retailers, such as batteries, paints, and bleach, all contain toxic chemicals that, if not managed properly, can be dangerous to human health and the environment.

The primary method for compliance and regulation that is being urged on retailers is employee training. The retail industry tailors the priorities of its employees to customer service, therefore most retail associates do not have experience handling of hazardous waste compliance. The most important thing retailers can do to avoid fines, and improve the environment, is to put a greater priority on environmental impact and train their employees accordingly.



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