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What Environmental Managers Need to Know About Business Waste Disposal

How to manage business waste disposal.

The roles of environmental managers are essential to ensuring that business operations avoid noncompliance issues with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waste requirements. By focusing on environmental waste management, you can reduce the amount of waste produced by your business, making it more efficient, less wasteful and more responsible towards the environment.

To meet these goals, you need an established system to follow. Within the system that you create as an environmental manager, you must consider methods of tracking, reducing and disposing of waste. Partnering with a company to assist you can optimize your efforts in managing the waste that your company produces day in and day out. 

Why Is It Important to Track Business Waste?

importance of tracking business waste

By tracking your business waste, your company can enjoy multiple benefits, including saving money, reducing waste, complying with all regulations and lowering liability. The process of tracking your company’s waste also makes it possible for you to achieve more sustainable waste management for your business. Here are some of the most important reasons to track your waste: 

1. Cost Savings

Disposing of waste costs money. By tracking your business waste and taking steps toward reducing it through throwing away less and recycling more, you save your company in disposal fees. Additionally, by tracking waste and verifying compliance, your business avoids fines from failing to meet waste disposal standards.

2. Emissions Reduction

Tracking the waste your company produces allows you to make changes toward reducing it. By lowering your facility’s waste disposal needs, you also can reduce emissions from transporting and handling the waste. The EPA offers a tool to calculate the amount of greenhouse gas reduction your business can achieve through reducing waste and increasing its total amount of recycling. Use this tool to see the potential effectiveness of your environmental strategies.

3. Regulatory Compliance

To verify your facility’s compliance with EPA guidelines for waste disposal, you need to know how much waste your site generates and what you do with it. When you keep tabs on your management of waste and recycling, you can answer any questions or concerns about your facility’s compliance.

4. Sustainability and Resource Conservation

The best way to start conserving resources is to know how you’re handling the ones that you currently have. By tracking your existing waste, you can recognize recycling options that can reduce your facility’s impact on the environment and become more sustainable as a whole. 

Other means of increasing sustainability may include collaborating with local suppliers to reduce emissions from transit, using fair marketing strategies and keeping an eye on maintaining resources for future generations and the business’ later operations.

5. Liability Reduction

In incidents involving liability and waste products, if you can prove what your facility does with the waste through tracking it and keeping records, you can avoid or reduce liability. 

Additionally, by shrinking the amount of hazardous waste it produces, your company can become less likely to create an environmental danger and the associated liability. For instance, the less pollution you produce, the lower the chance of a spill that puts the environment and the public in danger. Good waste disposal measures that include using a partner for non-hazardous waste handling can also keep your company in compliance with government requirements, thus lowering liability caused by not meeting these guidelines.

6. Reporting

Reporting on your operations to investors or other interested parties may also include outlining how you manage waste. To generate this data, you need to monitor your waste and how your facility handles it.

What Is an Environmental Management System?

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a framework that your business uses to create a system for handling waste disposal, recycling and other environmental goals. Unlike governmental regulations, each business will have its own EMS that outlines the specific needs of the facility while remaining in compliance with EPA guidelines and other state and local requirements.

Many management systems use the ISO 14001 standard to guide their setups. The ISO 14001 has five steps for creating and maintaining an environmental handling process. These steps are as follows:

  • Commitment to policy: Management within the company needs to commit to the environmental policy and the improvement of how the business handles its environmental waste and resources.
  • Planning: The planning phase includes businesses assessing any current environmental policies and potential needs for improvements. This evaluation can help with creating the goals for the environmental policy. Goals should have quantifiable results to make determining whether the business meets them easier. For instance, instead of a goal of increasing recycling, creating an aim of improving recycling by 25% over the next year is a better option. With the latter goal, you have a measurable figure that you can use to assess how close your business is to reaching it. 
  • Implementation: Implementing the policy also requires regular documentation and tracking of the waste and environmental handling procedures.
  • Evaluation: During the evaluation stage, your business uses measurements taken during the implementation phase to determine how close you were to reaching your goals.
  • Review:  Reviewing the results of the evaluation can inform your business on how to make improvements to your policy. The reviewing leads directly back into recommitting to continued improvements and altering plans.

Per the ISO 14001 standard, an EMS should have a cyclical pattern to ensure continuous changes and improvements to the system.

What Are Ways Environmental Managers Can Contribute to Commercial Waste Management?

Environmental managers play both major and minor roles in a business’s method of managing waste and improving environmental policies. These contributions don’t always fall directly under the managers’ job descriptions. However, they are common tasks reported by a majority of environmental managers. These major contributions to mitigating and handling waste include the following:

Minimizing Waste Production

Pollution reduction ranks as a top task for environmental managers. However, knowing how to reduce business waste includes more than cutting emissions. It also includes reducing the solid waste produced. Methods of doing so may include a three-fold policy of minimizing waste products, properly handling generated waste and increasing rates of recycling. These measures can prevent and reduce pollutants and waste, lowering overall commercial disposal costs.

Tracking Waste Materials

Keeping track of commercial waste and how the facility handles it is another major task for environmental managers. Records of this information provide vital information for evaluating the effectiveness of the current policies. This information can also inform potential improvements to the policy.

Additionally, by tracking and reporting on waste materials, the environmental manager can contribute to the health and safety department’s work of maintaining workplace safety in the handling of wastes.

Implementing Sustainable Practices

For a facility to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly, it needs policies and management to reach these goals. Sustainability may include working with facilities management to source lower waste products for operations or production. Environmental managers may also collaborate with production teams to find ways to make manufacturing more sustainable and less wasteful. By implementing sustainable practices, environmental managers help to reduce total waste, which lowers disposal costs.

Collaborating With Other Departments

At least 75% of environmental managers collaborate with other departments to achieve common goals. Many teams have overlapping tasks in all or part of their assignments. As noted, environmental managers may work with health and safety departments or production teams to reduce waste and inform the business of any potential waste hazards.

Accounting is another major department that environmental managers must work with to get budgetary coverage for the company’s environmental management strategy. Additionally, those in accounting may need to find ways to cut waste handling costs in collaboration with the environmental manager.

Increasing Employee Environmental Awareness

The environmental manager is not the only one in the company who should have a greener mindset. They may also need to teach all employees at the facility, suppliers and customers about reducing waste, recycling and becoming more sustainable. Environmental awareness is a socially responsible position for businesses to achieve. With waste-reducing environmental policies, sustainability measures, pollution control, increased recycling and greater awareness of resource use, businesses become more environmentally conscious through the work of their environmental managers.

Stages of the EMS Cycle

stages of the EMS cycle

Environmental management strategies should happen in a cycle of constant improvement. This continuous cycle has its roots in each of the critical ISO 14001 stages. EMS steps include planning, implementing, auditing and acting. You should plan to repeat these steps to perfect your EMS system and optimize your methods of managing waste.


The planning phase is essential. Don’t take shortcuts during this step of the EMS cycle. During planning, you will establish goals, budget, waste disposal, handling partners and methods for the system. Therefore, to ensure that things happen flawlessly when you put the plan into action, you need to know exactly what your business will do.

The first stage of planning is identifying your environmental management business objectives. These objectives may include reducing waste or increasing recycling to become more sustainable.

Planning also includes getting additional help from within the company for your environmental management tasks. While you, as the environmental manager, have responsibility for the EMS, you still need support from those higher up in the company to ensure compliance from other departments and financing. You should also garner consultants from engineering, finance, production, human resources or other departments to help you plan and implement the training and actions needed for the EMS.

Examine your existing EMS to determine if you have gaps in compliance with ISO 14001. Make changes to your methods to eliminate these gaps and meet these guidelines. If you need a third party to help you with disposal or recycling, ensure that they have a commitment to meeting EPA guidelines and other waste handling requirements.

Lastly, verify that you have the budget for the EMS and compliance from other employees. Training may help to raise awareness and ensure that other workers can help in contributing to the EMS execution.


Though planning requires a lot of effort, you will have that time investment rewarded during the implementation phase. This portion of the EMS is when you create your company’s environmental policy, train workers, define actions for noncompliance within your business and codify all this information into an environmental handling manual.

The manual created during the implementation phase includes all the decisions you arrived at concerning the environmental policy requirements for your business and how workers will help. You will also conduct training for employees based on the manual to ensure that everyone knows the official requirements for waste handling in your company.


Auditing is the phase during which you check your progress toward meeting your company’s goals that you created during the planning stage. You should choose a team for conducting internal audits of your company’s EMS. The earliest audits should focus on aspects of the EMS rather than the entire system. During the initial stages of auditing, use the data collected to create amendments as needed to identify the sources of problems or complications with meeting your guidelines.

Over time, the auditing phase should include consequences outlined in the manual for failure to meet the requirements. Make sure all employees know when you will begin enforcing the manual’s guidelines.


Using the audits, conduct additional reviews of your EMS with management. These reviews will determine whether you will need to make changes to your EMS. Anything that you need to change should return you to the planning phase to restart the cycle and improve your EMS.

How an Industrial Waste Management Partner Can Help to Improve Business Waste Management

a trusted waste management partner can help

Most businesses lack the resources to properly track and manage non-hazardous waste. Therefore, you need a trusted partner to help you to complete your environmental management business objectives of reducing waste, maintaining EPA compliance and becoming more sustainable.

Due to the heavily regulated nature of the waste disposal and recycling industry, your business needs a partner to ensure compliance throughout the process.

For over 15 years, VLS Environmental Solutions has helped environmental managers improve all aspects of commercial waste handling. We offer the following services to optimize your waste strategy:

  • Removal and disposal of non-hazardous liquid waste produced from cleaning ship tanks
  • Industrial tank cleaning
  • Waste disposal or recycling management  
  • Sludge and solvent removal and recycling
  • Sustainable waste transportation 
  • Waste drum and tote removal

Our services focus on non-hazardous materials generated by a variety of industries, including manufacturing and pharmaceuticals. We remain abreast of all existing EPA guidelines for waste handling to ensure that the companies we work with avoid problems from managing their commercial waste. 

Get in Touch With Us at VLS Environmental Services

Don’t go alone when planning the disposal of your commercial waste. Partner with us at VLS for environmentally sound, turn-key solutions to commercial waste management. Our non-hazardous waste processing meets high standards of customer service, safety and compliance, so you can trust our guidance on an environmental management system that works for your company. Contact us today to begin a partnership with VLS for assistance in handling your company’s non-hazardous pharmaceutical, manufacturing or marine waste.

partner with VLS for responsible waste managment solutions

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