Facility Maintenance Decisions

Determine a Hierarchy for Managing Hazardous Materials

Maintenance and engineering managers have a new strategy to demonstrate their departments’ benefits to the organization: supporting the widening efforts to make facilities more environmentally responsible.

Among the most important areas managers can address in this effort is properly managing hazardous materials and waste. Managing the organization’s hazardous material and waste program — specifically, making it greener — actually offers a host of benefits, including cost savings, regulatory compliance, safer work environments, and reduced waste volumes.

Generally, improving sustainability does not have to be a challenge for managers. The first step is to understand the organization’s environmental and sustainability goals. Managers also need to contact those in charge of the organization’s environmental efforts, communicate a willingness to participate, and work with the purchasing department. Making these efforts will help ensure visibility and support from upper management.

Setting Priorities

A preferred hierarchy exists for managing hazardous materials and wastes: prevention, reduction, recycling, and ongoing evaluation and management.

Prevention is the preferred method for reducing the total amount of hazardous waste. The process addresses the design, purchase, manufacture and use of products and materials to eliminate the amount or toxicity of solid waste. For instance, many manufacturers already have phased out potentially harmful chemicals from their products in favor of more benign materials. Among the many positive environmental effects of prevention is the generation of wastes with lower hazard potential.

Source reduction is the next preferred option for managing hazardous materials and wastes when eliminating hazardous chemicals is not an option. This involves the design, purchase, manufacture and use of products and materials that reduce the toxicity of solid waste. Both prevention and source reduction actually reduce the amount of material used, and therefore, the amount discarded.

Recycling aims to further reduce hazardous wastes once they are created. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed recycling regulations for hazardous waste to promote the safe reuse and reclamation of useful materials in a way that protects human health and the environment.

Continue Reading: Hazmat: The Sustainability Link

Determine a Hierarchy for Managing Hazardous Materials

Why Develop a Green Purchasing Plan?

Five Ways To Reduce Waste in Commercial Buildings

Compliance Considerations for Managing Hazardous Materials

Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »

  posted on 2/1/2009   Article Use Policy

Related Topics: