Developing a Waste Management Plan

A waste management plan is a document that sets out procedures for separating and transporting the various types of materials your company produces. It includes protocols for disposing of hazardous material, setting up recycling programs and providing adequate personal protective equipment. Developing such a plan can help your business lower its operating costs, increase efficiency and further enhance its environmental credibility.

Start by identifying all the waste streams your facility produces. Then you can develop targeted disposal practices, ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and identify specialized professional services for more toxic or hazardous wastes. For example, you might need a contractor to dispose of biologically contaminated waste and electronic waste.

The next step is to identify what reuse and recycling facilities are available within your community and region. Also determine what end markets exist for these recycled products. Then determine how these facilities can be pre-established or contracted to accept incident-related wastes, and what criteria should be used to select these sites. If possible, include neighboring communities, as they may also be impacted by waste flows after an incident.

You should consult individuals and groups that represent transportation, sanitation, emergency response, public health, public works, zoning, environment, agriculture and industry during the development of the waste management plan (WMP). The WMP should be updated regularly. Consider incorporating lessons learned and after action reports from past incidents in the plan to avoid repeating mistakes.

Once your WMP is complete, you can implement it during a disaster by including waste management sections in your incident-specific plans. These may include the incident’s situational overview, generated waste types and quantities, locations of waste, an exit strategy and health and safety requirements.

During a disaster, it’s crucial to communicate the location of waste management facilities and how to contact them to arrange pickups. You should also include the protocols you’ll use for establishing a chain of custody, which ensures that waste is tracked from its point of origin to the appropriate disposal site.

When you’ve developed a new waste management plan, set facility goals to measure progress and encourage employee engagement. For example, you might want to reduce waste disposal volumes by 20% or see no compliance violations for six months. When you achieve these goals, celebrate your success and set new ones to push for even greater improvement.

The City of New York’s Sustainable Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) is designed to minimize the need for landfills and increase the capacity for recycling, composting and reuse. For instance, the city aims to transfer debris to disposal sites closer to where it is collected, and to export this material via barge and rail instead of trucks to decrease the impact of frequent sanitation truck traffic in local neighborhoods. The city also aims to reduce the amount of materials that can be considered hazardous waste by updating building codes for resilient design and construction. In addition, the City of New York is investing in new infrastructure that can handle a wide variety of debris streams.

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