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  1. How Is Hazardous Waste Disposed?

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    When handled improperly, hazardous waste poses a significant threat to both public health and the environment. Hazardous waste is defined as any substance capable of harming ecosystems or human life, and it comes in many forms. For industrial companies, agricultural facilities, and other sites, following proper disposal procedures is necessary to ensure compliance with EPA regulations.

    As a full-service environmental company, U.S. Waste Industries, Inc., specializes in both hazardous and non-hazardous waste removal services. Here, we will discuss the various substances that are classified as hazardous waste and their correct disposal methods. We will also cover the state and federal regulations surrounding hazardous waste disposal and key challenges to be aware of. Learning how to properly handle these harmful substances is crucial for maintaining a safe living environment. 

    Hazardous Waste Disposal Methods

    Hazardous waste comes in liquid, solid, and gas forms, as well as numerous chemical compositions. Due to these differences, there is no one-size-fits-all disposal method. In many cases, the waste must be exposed to either chemical, thermal, biological, or physical treatments before they are suitable for subsequent disposal processes. Chemical, thermal, and biological treatments target the molecular level of waste while physical treatments, such as evaporation or solidification, decrease their volume or concentration. 

    Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), regulations are outlined on proper hazardous waste management and disposal. This comprehensive regulatory program outlines acceptable disposal methods, which include landfill disposal, incineration, recycling, and neutralization processes. 

    Landfill Disposal

    Hazardous waste landfills are among the oldest and most commonly used disposal methods. These sites are specially engineered to contain hazardous substances without contamination to the ground or surrounding ecosystem. They are created by excavating a site deep within the ground and then lining it with a non-porous material like clay or high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Additional leak protection systems, double liners, and wind dispersal controls are then implemented for further safety. 


    High-temperature incineration is a thermal method of solid hazardous waste disposal. The waste is added to an incinerator, like a rotary kiln, followed by supplemental fuel, like natural gas. All sides of the solid waste are exposed to flames while the vapors are pulled through a series of plume eliminators and coolers that control air pollution.

    This disposal method safely destroys harmful chemicals and reduces the amount of waste in landfills. Several types of equipment facilitate this process, including:

    • Rotary kilns
    • Fluidized-bed incinerators 
    • Liquid-injection incinerators
    • Multiple-hearth furnaces


    Recycling hazardous waste offers many benefits for both resource conservation and the environment. Depending on the type of waste material, several techniques can be used:

    • Reuse: Waste can be substituted for another industrial ingredient or product. 
    • Energy recovery: Waste can be burned as fuel. 
    • Reclaiming: The waste can be processed to recover useful parts or regenerate it to its original state.

    Treatment and Neutralization

    Certain types of waste can be chemically neutralized and transformed into a state that’s safe for disposal. Chemical treatment methods include:

    • Precipitation
    • Ion exchange 
    • Reduction
    • Oxidation
    • Neutralization 

    These processes target a waste product’s molecular structure, destroying it. In addition, physical treatments like solidification are also used. Evaporation, filtration, and flotation are all physical methods of decreasing waste volume or creating a leach-resistant, solid mass that can be more easily and safely disposed of. 

    Types of Hazardous Waste

    The EPA provides lists outlining all hazardous materials; however, waste generally falls into the following categories: 

    • Lead, mercury, cadmium, and other heavy metals: Found in batteries, electronic waste, and industrial processes, these materials persist in the environment and accumulate within living organisms over time. 
    • Solvents, pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls: By-products of chemical production, agriculture, and industrial manufacturing, these substances are volatile and can contaminate the environment. 
    • Formaldehyde, chloroform, benzene: Found in pharmaceutical production, manufacturing, and laboratories, these chemicals are carcinogenic, toxic, and can potentially have long-term health effects. 
    • Acids and bases: Used in chemical manufacturing, metal processing, and laboratory settings, acids and bases can cause physical harm and corrode materials. 
    • Explosives, propane, gasoline: Used in military activities, automotive maintenance, and industrial processes, these substances are combustible and a potential fire and explosion hazard. 

    Regulatory Framework

    Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state-level agencies play a role in regulating hazardous waste disposal and enforcing these regulations. It is essential for any type of business to adhere to these guidelines as non-compliance results in penalties. While regulations can vary based on state, in many instances state guidelines are more stringent than federal programs. Information specific to your location can be found on the EPA’s website

    Learn More About Hazardous Waste Disposal 

    Hazardous waste disposal is a complex, yet vitally important topic. With the multitude of hazardous materials and disposal methods available, it takes a trusted expert to ensure proper handling. At U.S. Waste Industries, Inc., we offer comprehensive hazardous waste disposal services, nationwide. Whether you’re dealing with surplus chemicals, wastewater disposal, lagoon cleaning, or another challenging issue, our team is ready to offer support. To learn more, contact us or request a quote today.