How to save money on waste disposal

Imagine this: You’re cleaning and organizing your stock area and discover 865 buckets of expired adhesives and sealants. You realize they aren’t just garbage, so you call a few hazardous waste service providers to get disposal quotes—and you’re shocked. For proper disposal, one company quotes you $43,000 and the other, $116,000. 

When this happened to a Washington business owner, he reached out to Ecology. "Am I going about this wrong? I literally can’t afford to dispose of the glue the correct way. But I need it gone, and I want to do it right. What can I do?"

We responded with technical assistance. And as it turns out, this company strives to use safer products, so many of their adhesives were not dangerous waste and could be solidified without evaporation and put into the trash—legally.

The business owner used the product safety data sheets to designate each waste and determine which were hazardous and which were not. Designating waste this way is called using generator knowledge. It turned out that 604 of the 865 containers were not dangerous waste and could be hardened without evaporation and then landfilled.

This business organized a “glue hardening day” for those 604 buckets. They will dispose of the remaining 261 containers as hazardous waste through a third hazardous waste service provider. The quote for proper disposal was $25,000.

The lessons?

We provide dangerous waste designation guidance. For more information, visit our webpage: Dispose, recycle, or treat dangerous waste.

This article originally appeared in Ecology's Winter 2024 issue of Shoptalk. Subscribe to Shoptalk for tips on reducing toxics and managing hazardous waste.