Heritage Receives 2020 EBJ Business Achievement Awards



San Diego, Calif. (February 26, 2021)Environmental Business Journal® (EBJ), a business research publication which has provided strategic business intelligence to the environmental industry since 1988, has honored Heritage Environmental Services (Heritage) with 2020 EBJ Business Achievement Awards for COVID Response Services, Battery Recycling (New Practice Area), and a 50-Year Recognition.

“2020 was certainly an exceptional year for our society, the economy and the environmental industry,” said Grant Ferrier, president of Environmental Business International Inc. (EBI, Inc.), and editor of Environmental Business Journal. “Unique enough that we added two major categories to the EBJ Awards: COVID Resilience that recognizes companies that adapted to work-at-home, travel, field services and other restrictions, as well as rapidly changing client needs; and COVID Response that recognizes companies that developed or accelerated new business initiatives, innovations and entire business units to support the environment, health & safety needs of their diverse client sectors.”

Throughout the pandemic, Heritage has actively provided response services to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Services include both routine and emergency disinfection in addition to regular hazardous, industrial and medical waste transportation and disposal. Heritage developed a program to ensure safe, secure transportation and disposal of PPE, diverting this wastestream from landfills to an energy recovery facility to be thermally destroyed.

“I’m proud of how our team continued to service customers with their everyday waste needs while stepping up to perform thousands of COVID disinfecting jobs, helping them keep their companies, employees, and clients safe,” said Rudy Streng, Senior Vice President at Heritage. “We also collected N95 masks from hundreds of hospitals across the country, took them to disinfection facilities, and safely returned them to those front line workers.”

Heritage was recognized by EBJ with a 50-Year Recognition award, honoring environmental industry firms founded in 1970. Partnering with innovative organizations and launching a new division, Heritage Battery Recycling, is one of many steps the company is taking to ensure the business sustains its track record of success for another 50 years. Heritage has positioned itself to be on the cutting edge of electronic vehicle battery reuse and recycling, receiving an EBJ award for this New Practice Area.

About Heritage Environmental Services, Inc.

Heritage Environmental Services is a privately held, family-owned environmental services business with more than 1,600 employees across North and Central America. The company provides a full suite of tailored solutions from emergency response, waste disposal, and sustainability services to on-site support and technical solutions to thousands of customers in hundreds of industries and verticals. Throughout its 50-year history, Heritage Environmental Services has prioritized the safety of its employees while pursuing its purpose of protecting human health and the environment.

Heritage Invests in Future of Battery Recycling

  • The Heritage Group’s newly formed Heritage Battery Recycling announces collaboration with Romeo Power, Inc. and Heritage-Crystal Clean, Inc. – leveraging a well-established logistics network for spent lithium-ion battery collection, processing and reuse assessment
  • Shane Thompson joins the Heritage team as President of Heritage Battery Recycling


INDIANAPOLIS, IN. (Feb 10, 2021) – The Heritage Group and Heritage Environmental Services, Inc. (collectively, “Heritage”), a leader in environmental and sustainability services, launched a new division, Heritage Battery Recycling (HBR), in late 2020 to address growing market demand for safe, sustainable solutions for lithium-ion batteries near or at end-of-life. HBR’s goal is to recover and reuse critical battery precursor resources that exist in finite supply across the globe.

In collaboration with Romeo Power, Inc. (“Romeo Power”) (NYSE: RMO), an energy technology leader delivering large-scale electrification solutions for complex commercial applications, HBR will develop a battery reuse and recycling facility sited in the southwestern United States.

“By working directly with Romeo Power, we have a unique opportunity to provide a safe, environmentally sound end-of-life strategy for commercial truck manufacturers, commercial fleet managers and conscientious business owners who are investing in clean energy today,” said Jeff Laborsky, CEO of Heritage. “We are proud to be part of this long-term sustainability collaboration.”

“Romeo Power is thrilled to expand our end-to-end electrification strategy through the Heritage Battery Recycling facility” said Lionel Selwood Jr., CEO of Romeo Power. “We are committed to anticipating our customers’ long-term needs as they transition to electrification, and HBR will provide them with a turnkey solution to repurpose end-of-life batteries safely and responsibly.”

To jumpstart efficiencies in transportation and logistics for HBR’s battery collection operations across North America, Heritage partnered with Heritage-Crystal Clean, Inc. (“Crystal Clean”) (Nasdaq: HCCI), a leading provider of parts cleaning, used oil re-refining, and hazardous and non-hazardous waste services primarily focused on small and mid-sized customers. Crystal Clean’s extensive network of 89 branch locations, advanced logistic operations and long-standing customer relationships across the automotive sector position it as an optimal partner for HBR.

Together, Heritage and Crystal Clean bring HBR access to over 100,000 customer locations, 2,500 knowledgeable employees, a fleet of over 1,300 power units and 108 facility locations across North America.

“The creation of Heritage Battery Recycling, and our partnership with Crystal Clean, reflects our 50-year legacy of pursuing sustainable solutions for our customers, and further demonstrates our commitment to achieving our Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals,” said Jeff Laborsky, CEO of Heritage.  “Our two companies together combine the strengths of Crystal Clean’s advanced collection capabilities with Heritage’s safe processing expertise.”

”Since its inception, Heritage-Crystal Clean has partnered with Heritage in an effort to provide value to our customers,” explained Brian Recatto, President and CEO of Heritage-Crystal Clean. “We’re excited about our commitment to invest in a new partnership with Heritage Battery Recycling because it not only furthers our valuable relationship with Heritage, but is demonstrative of our vision to protect the earth’s resources and our mission to provide environmentally sustainable solutions to our customers.

HBR is investing in technology, partnerships and people to help identify the highest and best use of reduced capacity electric vehicle batteries and establishing best practices for recycling or refurbishment. Heritage’s experience with safely handling hazardous waste and managing total byproduct programs with many auto OEMs, makes it a natural fit for collaboration with automotive manufacturers facing this industry-wide challenge.

Heritage announced today that Shane Thompson has been named President of newly formed HBR. “Shane is the right leader for Heritage Battery Recycling,” said Laborsky. “His extensive background in battery end-of-life management makes him one of the world’s leading experts in this rapidly evolving industry. We are confident that Shane’s strong business relationships and deep understanding of the battery value chain will quickly position Heritage Battery Recycling as a market leader in North America.”

“I was thrilled to be asked to join the team and launch Heritage Battery Recycling,” said Shane Thompson. “We’ve reached an inflection point in the electrification of vehicles across North America – and as those spent battery units move to recycling or reuse opportunities, Heritage Battery Recycling will be ready to meet the demand.”

About Heritage Environmental Services, Inc.

Heritage Environmental Services is a privately held, family-owned environmental services business with more than 1,600 employees across North and Central America. The company provides a full suite of tailored solutions from emergency response, waste disposal, and sustainability services to on-site support and technical solutions to thousands of customers in hundreds of industries and verticals. Throughout its 50-year history, Heritage Environmental Services has prioritized the safety of its employees while pursuing its purpose of protecting human health and the environment.

About Heritage-Crystal Clean, Inc.

Heritage-Crystal Clean, Inc. provides parts cleaning, used oil re-refining, and hazardous and non-hazardous waste services primarily to small and mid-sized customers in the vehicle maintenance sector as well as manufacturers and other industrial businesses. Our service programs include parts cleaning, containerized waste management, used oil collection and re-refining, vacuum truck services, waste antifreeze collection, recycling and product sales, and field services. These services help our customers manage their used chemicals and liquid and solid wastes, while also helping to minimize their regulatory burdens. Our customers include businesses involved in vehicle maintenance operations, such as car dealerships, automotive repair shops, and trucking firms, as well as small-to-medium sized manufacturers, such as metal product fabricators and printers, and other industrial businesses. Through our used oil re-refining program, we recycle used oil into high quality lubricating base oil, and we are a supplier to firms that produce and market finished lubricants. Through our antifreeze program we recycle spent antifreeze and produce a full line of virgin-quality antifreeze products. Heritage-Crystal Clean, Inc. is headquartered in Elgin, Illinois, and operates through 89 branches serving approximately 91,000 customer locations.

About Romeo Power, Inc.

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Los Angeles, California, Romeo Power (NYSE: RMO) is an energy technology leader delivering large-scale electrification solutions for complex commercial applications. The company’s suite of advanced hardware, combined with its innovative battery management system, delivers the safety, performance, reliability and configurability its customers need to succeed. Romeo Power’s 113,000 square-foot manufacturing facility brings its flexible design and development process inhouse to pack the most energy dense modules on the market. To keep up with everything Romeo Power, please follow the company on social @romeopowerinc or visit


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Heritage-Crystal Clean, Inc. Safe Harbor Statement

This release contains forward-looking statements that are based upon current management expectations. Generally, the words “aim,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “should,” “will be,” “will continue,” “will likely result,” “would” and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that could cause our actual results, performance or achievements or industry results to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks, uncertainties and other important factors include, among others: developments in the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting impact on our business and operations, future financial and operating results, future disclosures of historical financial and operating results, general economic conditions and downturns in the business cycles of automotive repair shops, industrial manufacturing businesses and small businesses in general; increased solvent, fuel and energy costs and volatility in the price of crude oil, the selling price of lubricating base oil, solvent, fuel, energy, and commodity costs; our ability to successfully integrate businesses we acquire; our ability to enforce our rights under the FCC Environmental purchase agreement; our ability to pay our debt when due and comply with our debt covenants; our ability to successfully operate our used oil re-refinery and to cost effectively collect or purchase used oil or generate operating results; increased market supply or decreased demand for base oil; further consolidation and/or declines in the United States automotive repair and manufacturing industries; the impact of extensive environmental, health and safety and employment laws and regulations on our business; legislative or regulatory requirements or changes adversely affecting our business; competition in the industrial and hazardous waste services industries and from other used oil processing facilities including other re-refineries; claims and involuntary shutdowns relating to our handling of hazardous substances; the value of our used solvents and oil inventory, which may fluctuate significantly; our dependency on key employees; our level of indebtedness, which could affect our ability to fulfill our obligations, impede the implementation of our strategy, and expose us to interest rate risk; our ability to effectively manage our extended network of branch locations; the control of The Heritage Group over the Company; and the risks identified in our Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC on March 3, 2020 and subsequent filings with the SEC. Given these uncertainties, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. We assume no obligation to update or revise them or provide reasons why actual results may differ. The information in this release should be read in light of such risks and in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and the notes thereto included elsewhere in this release.

Case Study – Boxed Rolls Recycling

Boxed Rolls Recycling (Painesville, OH)

By reviewing landfill data and working closely with Stew Murphy at the Avery Dennison facility in Painesville, OH, Heritage Program Manager, Matt Wilson, was able to successfully implement a recycling program that removes boxed rolls from landfill and eliminates one open top container from the facility.

After conversations with Avery Dennison and the vendor, Matt determined that procedural changes at the facility would allow for the material to be recycled instead of landfilled. With the new program, the boxed rolls are taken by the vendor who separates the cardboard boxes from the rolls. The cardboard boxes are then compacted and recycled, and the rolls are also recycled.

Matt worked closely with the site as well as the vendor to define what items could and could not be placed in the dumpster. Once determinations were made, site personnel had to be informed and on board with the new procedures if changes from landfill to recycling were to be successful. The implementation process lasted approximately six weeks, and the boxed roll material is now effectively recycled.

As a result of onboarding site personnel to the recycling changes and working with the vendor to determine logistics, an estimated 333 tons will be diverted from landfill annually, and the Avery Dennison facility is estimated to save approximately $6,783 annually.


For help streamlining recycling at your company, click here to connect with a Heritage Representative.

General Recycling – The Basics

This blog breaks down recycling basics, outlining general topics to think about when evaluating a recycling program or starting to recycle a new material. The “rules” outlined below will fluctuate slightly based on the specific services provided by each contracted recycler.

General Practices 

  • Education/Vendor Requirements – An essential aspect to a recycling program is a clear understanding of what is recyclable and how a recycler needs to receive the material. This information can be provided by your Heritage PM or the servicing recycler. Not knowing what material is acceptable can derail a recycling program and come with fees.
    • Signage –The easiest ways to educate a facility on recycling materials is signage outlining what is acceptable material.
    • Toolbox Talks/Meetings – Routine meetings update involved personnel on the success of a recycling program as well as changes in acceptable items and process.
  • Purity/Labor – When perusing a program for recycling that will generate a rebate, you should evaluate how to reduce each material down to its purer form as well as what can be done onsite to reduce the amount of handling required by a service provider. Not all facilities have the capability to segregate waste and process it for handling due to operational or financial constraints, however it is important to understand that this will happen somewhere in the process.
      • Grading – Almost all recyclable material will be given a “grade” based on the type of material, contamination between materials, and other categories which determines the value of the material.
  • Understanding Capabilities and waste – Facilities vary and having a good understanding of what that material is will help in establishing a successful recycling program. If a small location has limited streams it may not be worth separating the material into separate waste streams at the site because a) you will not see any cost benefit due to low volumes or b) the site may not have the resources required to perform appropriate material segregation. This basic understanding will allow sites to evaluate between two main styles of recycling:
    • Co-mingled – A ‘turn key’ process for recycling where recyclable materials are collected in a single container and then taken to a recycling facility where the servicing company will sperate and process.
       **Co-mingled programs will vary from region to region based on the market **
    • Segregated – Almost all material will either a) become more recyclable through onsite segregation or b) see a cost benefit by being segregated onsite. Segregation is best handled at the point of collection by putting in place separate containers for material, such asseparate containers in a cafeteria for trash, plastics, paper, compost, etc. This upfront work by a site can open different avenues for the material.
       **Different materials may be accepted in different forms outlined below. This will vary from region to region and again by service provider based on their capabilities. **
    • Mail Back Options – There is a trend in the industry to provide a larger variety of options for prepaid recycling boxes that are used to collect material and then mailed to the recycler, best for sites or waste streams with low volumes or storage
  • Ease – While segregating material in pure and easily handled forms is cost efficient, a recycling program must also be implemented in an understandable way for the people involved. This may mean outlining very clearly a complex process for segregation, but it may also mean choosing to outsource that segregation to the supplier via a co-mingled container in which all like materials can be deposited. This is largely dependent on the capabilities of a facility and the commitment of a team

Waste Stream Specific

The below provides rough details on ways to handle several materials from a cost standpoint. Each of these can typically be handled via a co-mingled service as well but should be confirmed with your Heritage PM or service provider.

  • Plastic – Plastic when segregated can sometimes be taken “loose”, but from both an efficiency and cost standpoint is better handled after some sort of processing such as baling, compacting, or grinding/shredding/chipping.
  • Paper – When segregated white paper is most commonly handled in cubic yard boxes. The way that it lays down on itself allows for efficient handling of the material.
    **This does not include secure destruct 
  • Cardboard – Cardboard when segregated and sometimes be taken “loose”, but from both an efficiency and cost standpoint is better handled after some sort of processing which can be done by either baling or compacting
  • Universal – Universal waste like all recyclables can be handle in a co-mingled fashion, though it does have additional restrictions. There are certain types of batteries and bulbs for instance that must be handled in certain ways specified by legal entities as well as potential additional requirements by recyclers. As with most recyclables sorting universal waste into individual waste streams will often be more cost effective from a recycling standpoint. Universal waste can also be handled in a mail back kit.
  • Electrical – Electrical waste (E-Waste) can be recycled in a co-mingled program, though different suppliers will have restrictions on how material can be received. E-waste can largely be tied to markets due to the recoverable material in the components. Some electronics can yield a rebate and others will not, this is influenced by the amount of resources needed to recover what material is available
  • Metals – Metal recycling operates under the same circumstances as other recyclables, meaning that if you put the labor in upfront, you will see a higher return via rebate. The first step to segregating metal by-product is to separate the materials into Ferrous and Non-ferrous materials.
    • Ferrous –Ferrous metals can be graded by the composition of the material, which can impact value, but the most common and simple onsite method for segregating would be to pull your production scrap metal from your maintenance or general scrap metal.
    • Non-ferrous – The list of categories into which non-ferrous metals can be segregate is large, but should be readily available from any scrap metal vendor. We can say that the focus should be on separating your non-ferrous metals into type (ex. copper, aluminum, brass, etc.). Once bucketed into those categories another good rule would be to separate the material by whether it has contaminated on it (ex. raw copper wire vs. insulated copper wire). Lastly the material will again be graded based on thickness so a thicker gauged wire is more cost beneficial to separate that into like sizes versus combining with a smaller braided wire.

For help streamlining recycling at your company, click here to connect with a Heritage Representative.

Mercury Lamp Waste Management

A common inquiry we receive concerns proper management of spent mercury-containing lightbulbs or “lamps” and how lamp crushers can be used in the waste management process.

Mercury is a hazardous material. All fluorescent lamps and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) contain elemental liquid mercury, as do high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps such as mercury vapor, metal halide, and high-pressure sodium lamps. When a lamp is broken, the mercury vaporizes into an invisible, odorless, and tasteless vapor. Inhaling mercury vapor is extremely dangerous to human health. If released to the environment, the mercury can be transformed to methylmercury, which is more toxic than elemental mercury and which bioaccumulates within food chains.

Normal handling of intact lamps presents a very low risk of mercury exposure. Repeated exposure to broken lamps or a one-time exposure to a large number of broken lamps increases the risk. The key is to protect lamps from accidental breakage and properly manage spent lamps.


Since January of 2000, the USEPA has allowed spent mercury lamps to be managed as universal waste. A lamp generator can be a Small Quantity Handler of Universal Waste (SQHUW) or a Large Quantity Handler of Universal Waste (LQHUW) depending on the number of spent lamps accumulated at one time. See for the federal universal waste handler requirements in 40 CFR 273 Subparts B and C. Recycling of mercury lamps is strongly encouraged. If a facility does not choose to manage their mercury lamps as universal waste, they must then be disposed of as a full RCRA hazardous waste.

In addition, some states require broken lamps to be handled according to full RCRA hazardous waste regulations. Be sure to check with your state’s environmental agency for up-to-date waste handling requirements. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) makes available an interactive map with links to state environmental agencies and fact sheets. You can access the map at A USEPA table of links to state universal waste regulations is also available at

Sections 273.16 and 273.36 of the Universal Waste Rule discuss the general employee training requirements for small and large quantity handlers of universal waste. Specifically for mercury lamp management, the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers (ALMR), with support from USEPA, developed an easy-to-use “Training Module (1-hour version) for Generators and Handlers of Fluorescent and Mercury-Containing Lamps (and Ballasts).” The document is available for download at

Lamp Crushers

Crushing is the intentional, controlled breaking of mercury-containing lamps into an appropriate storage container. Crushing itself is not recycling, but it can be part of a facility’s lamp recycling program. Crushing lamps can have several benefits: reduced risk of accidental lamp breakage during packaging and shipping of whole spent lamps; reduced handling time by eliminating the need to package and ship whole lamps; reduced storage space requirements.

A drum-top crusher is a mechanical device that is mounted on the top of a 55-gallon drum. The lamps are fed into the crusher and the crushed components are stored in the drum until ready for pickup for recycling or disposal. A 55-gallon drum typically can hold 1,000 or more crushed 4-foot lamps or the equivalent amount of other lamp types.

The lamp components are not separated during crushing, so the drum will contain mercury, phosphor powder, glass, and metals. The mercury will tend to evaporate, so an activated carbon filter is used to capture mercury vapor before it can be released to the ambient atmosphere. Dust filters and HEPA filters are also used to prevent particulate release.

Proper filter disposal depends on the specific type of crusher you use. The technical specifications for each type of crusher being considered or used should be carefully studied and understood to ensure filters are installed, checked, changed, and disposed of properly.

Monitoring and PPE

Areas in which a lamp crusher is used should be monitored for mercury vapor and mercury-containing particulates. The monitoring can be accomplished using various methods such as wipe sampling and air sampling.

At a minimum, Level D PPE should be used by employees operating the crusher or otherwise working in the immediate area. Higher levels of PPE may be required depending on the specifications of the specific crusher and area monitoring results.


Learn more about our Hazardous Waste Services

What is Waste Minimization?

A couple of weeks ago we did a post on how the government is addressing waste minimization. Here we’ll talk more about what waste minimization is. According to the EPA, “Waste Minimization refers to the use of source reduction and/or environmentally sound recycling methods prior to energy recovery, treatment, or disposal of wastes.” Ergo, treatment of a wastestream does not constitute waste minimization. The EPA takes this further by clarifying that “compacting, neutralizing, diluting, and incineration are not typically considered waste minimization practices.” So in the hierarchy of materials management source reduction and recycling come before energy recovery, treatment, or disposal.

What is Source Reduction?

Source reduction (which is also known as pollution prevention or P2) is a practice that reduces or eliminates the creation of wastes at the source. Additionally, source reduction “refers to any practice that reduces the use of hazardous materials in production processes.” The EPA lists the following examples of source reduction:

  • “Early retirement of equipment such as mercury-containing devices like switches and thermostats;
  • Reformulating or redesigning products, such as creating new PVC compounds without using lead;
  • Using less toxic feedstocks, such as switching to the use of lead-free solder in manufacturing;
  • Improving work practices, such as reorganizing paint batches in order to reduce cleaning operations.”

How is Recycling Utilized?

While most of us know about recycling from a personal standpoint we probably still can learn about recycling at the manufacturing level. In most cases recycling is used when source reduction is not seen as practical economically. In the manufacturing process, “Recycling includes the reuse or recovery of in-process materials or materials generated as by-products that can be processed further on-site or sent offsite to reclaim value. Recycling is a broad term that encompasses the reuse of materials in original or changed forms rather than discarding them as wastes. Recycling can also be thought of as the collection and reprocessing of a resource so it can be used again, though not necessarily for its original purpose.” The EPA provides a few examples of the types of recycling that can be used for waste minimization:

  • “Direct use/reuse of a waste in a process to make a product, such as reusing a purge product used to clean paint lines rather than disposing of it by incineration.
  • Processing the waste to recover or regenerate a usable product, such as collecting vapor from dry cleaning operations, turning it back into liquid, and reusing the liquid to clean more clothes.
  • Using/reusing waste as a substitute for a commercial product. When mercury is recycled from old equipment like switches, it can be used in new products that still require mercury, such as fluorescent bulbs. Recycling of mercury has been so successful that there is now enough recycled mercury in the U.S. that manufacturers do not need to use new mercury from mines.”

How can Waste Minimization help companies? 

Aside from being good for the environment, waste minimization can help companies on an economic sense by eliminating wasted materials, improving production efficiency, and improving product quality. Additionally, the EPA states that “reducing waste generation through waste minimization has helped some companies change their RCRA regulatory status from large quantity generator (1000 or more kilograms of hazardous waste generated per month) to small quantity generator (between 100 and 1000 kg of hazardous waste generated per month), or to conditionally exempt small quantity generator (up to 100 kg of hazardous waste generated per month). Some have managed to eliminate the generation of hazardous waste and avoid RCRA regulatory requirements altogether.”

What do you think about waste minimization? Does your company have plans and processes in place to achieve waste minimization goals? Have you seen a good ROI on your efforts?  We’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

Quoted and cited information (unless otherwise noted) for this blog post was gathered from the EPA FAQ Page on Waste Minimization. As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations.


The 3 R’s of Solid Waste Management

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all heard about the three R’s of waste management; reduce, reuse, and recycle. But do you know why they are in that order and what each one entails? In order to fully understand the meanings of the three R’s we need to talk about the impact solid waste has on the earth annually. For example, did you know that each year, Americans throw away 50 billion food and drink cans, 27 billion glass bottles and jars, and 65 million plastic and metal jar and can covers [1]. So how can we cut back on these numbers? That’s where the three R’s come in to play.


As you can likely deduce from its being the first of the three R’s, reducing is the best way to go about managing solid waste. It’s quite simple really, the less you use the less waste you will produce. This R causes the most unease in consumers because we tend to think we need to cut back on everything or we won’t be making an impact. This is not the case, though. By just doing a few things to cut back you can noticeably reduce your waste without totally altering your lifestyle. You could do this by:

  • Buying products with less packaging. Did you know that 30% of the waste in our landfills comes from product packaging? When shopping for items choose the ones in just one bog or bag as opposed to those that are double and triple packaged.
  • Buying products in bulk. By buying more of the same item all at once you reduce the overall amount of packaging you will encounter.
  • Try to stay away from disposable goods. In particular, paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils.
  • Buy durable goods. Especially when making a big purchase look into the history and reviews of the item you are buying. By buying something that will last you help to make sure wastes will stay out of landfills for longer.


The second R is for reuse. This one is becoming more and more popular with the surge of upcycling and craft projects all over the web. If you reuse something as opposed to throwing it away you keep waste out of landfills and create something new. A quick internet search can open a world of ideas or you can try any of the following:

  • Don’t automatically throw away items that are broken, several can be reused and turned into great new things!
  • Use sealable containers rather than plastic wrap.
  • Invest in some reusable shopping bags or bring old plastic ones with you to the store.
  • Look into upcycling ideas for common household items, many have alternate uses you may never have thought about.
  • Embrace hand-me-downs. As a younger sibling I can understand wanting clothes of your own but if you have kids of similar ages try to supplement wardrobes with some hand-me-downs as well. Another option is to shop second hand stores or consignment shops. That way the items will be totally new to you while still helping to reuse someone else’s potential waste. 


The final, and probably the best known, R stands for recycling. As you probably know, recycling is the process of remanufacturing a product to be sold as new. Along with the basics of paper, plastic, glass, and cardboard there are tons of items which can be recycled that you may not even realize. And remember, recycling only works if you complete the process by buying recycled materials. Start recycling today by doing any of the following:

  • Check with your municipal garbage company to see if they have a recycling option as well. This can help make recycling even easier.
  • Check with local recycling facilities to see what items they accept.
  • Start an office recycling program.

Types of Solid Waste Recycling

We’ve been talking a bit about solid wastes recently. You may recall us mentioning that there are three categories for recycled materials, each with its own regulatory definition. Today we are going to look a little closer into what those three types are. When it comes to disposing of solid wastes via recycling the EPA currently regulates the three separate ways; use constituting disposal, burning waste fuels, and reclamation. The first step you have to go through when recycling a solid waste is to determine what kind of material you are dealing with.

Once you’ve determined what type of secondary material you are working with (spent material, sludge, or scrap metal, etc.) the way in which it is recycled will be the determining factor in whether or not the material is a solid waste and, as such, potentially regulated as a hazardous waste. There is a fourth type of recycling called direct use/reuse which is not regulated under RCRA. But let’s look at the RCRA regulated recycling options before we talk about that.

Use Constituting Disposal

According to §261.2, when wastes or products containing wastes are placed directly on the land it is considered to be use constituting disposal. That said, if direct placement of a Commercial Chemical Product on the land is consistent with its typical use, like pesticides, then the material is not regulated as a solid waste. A good example is heptachlor which can potentially be a P-listed waste. When it is used as a pesticide though, it is not regulated as a solid waste.

Burning Waste Fuels

“Burning hazardous waste for energy recovery and using waste to produce a fuel are both covered under burning waste fuels (§261.2). CCPs that are themselves fuels are not considered solid wastes when burned, however, since burning is consistent with the product’s intended use. For example, off-specification jet fuel is not a solid waste when it is burned for energy recovery because it is itself a fuel.”


We’ve talked about reclamation before but never in much detail. According to the EPA, “reclamation is the regeneration of wastes or recovery of usable materials from wastes (e.g., regenerating spent solvents in a solvent still). Wastes are regenerated when they are processed to remove contaminants in a way that restores them to their usable condition.”


Direct reuse of a secondary material, with no reclamation involved beforehand, is the last form of recycling we’re going to discuss. 40 CFR §261.2 provides exclusions from the definition of solid waste for those materials which are reused in one of the following three ways:

Use as an Ingredient

If a secondary material is directly used as an ingredient in a production process without first being reclaimed…then that material is not a solid waste.

Used as a Product Substitute

If a secondary material is used as an effective substitute for a commercial product without first being reclaimed…it is exempt from the definition of solid waste.

Returned to the Production Process

When a material is returned to the original production process from which it was generated, it is not a solid waste. This exclusion only applies if the material is used as a raw material or feedstock in the production process and if it is not reclaimed prior to its reintroduction into the system. The material does not have to be returned to the exact unit, but may be returned to any unit associated with the production of a particular product.

All information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Document, Definition of Solid Waste and Hazardous Waste Recycling. As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full rules and regulations.

Classifications of Recycled Materials

I’ve written in the past about solid wastes and the different criteria that can be met for a material to be considered as such. You may remember that one way for a material to be considered a solid waste is for it to be recycled in a certain manner. Today we’re going to talk about the different classifications of recycled materials.

According to the EPA, “when a material is recycled, its regulatory classification (i.e., whether or not it is a solid waste, and potentially a regulated hazardous waste) depends on two factors: first, what type of secondary material is being recycled; and second, what type of recycling is occurring.” These materials are called “secondary materials” and are explained in further detail below.

A secondary material is defined as a material that when recycled could potentially be a solid or hazardous waste. These used or residual waste-like materials are broken down into five categories, spent materials, sludges, by-products, commercial chemical products, and scrap metal. All waste-like materials fit into one of these five secondary material categories.

What is a spent material?

According to the EPA, “Spent materials, as defined in §261.1(c)(1), are those used materials that can no longer serve the purpose for which they were produced without undergoing regeneration, reclamation, or reprocessing. Examples include spent solvents, spent activated carbon, spent catalysts, and spent acids.”

What is a sludge?

The EPA defines sludges as, “any solid, semisolid, or liquid waste generated from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control device.” An example is baghouse dust. There are two sludge categories, those listed on the F or K list (F037 petroleum refinery oil/water/solids separation sludge), and those which exhibit a hazardous characteristic.

What are byproducts?

A byproduct is a material that is created through a production process but which is not a primary product of said process. A byproduct is a catch-all term, and includes most wastes that are not spent materials or sludges. One example is a distillation column bottom.

What is a commercial chemical product?

According to §261.33, commercial chemical products (CCPs) include unused chemical intermediates, off specification variants, and spill or container residues. An example is unused sodium cyanide. According to the EPA, “the definition of CCP, which is also part of the hazardous waste identification process for P- or U-listed wastes, is expanded for the purposes of defining a material as a solid waste. For this purpose, the term CCP also includes chemicals that are not listed in §261.33 but exhibit a hazardous characteristic (e.g.,off-specification jet fuel), as well as other unused commercial products that exhibit a characteristic of hazardous waste, even though they are not commonly considered chemicals (e.g. unused circuit boards, unused batteries).”

What is meant by scrap metal?

The EPA defines scrap metal as “bits and pieces of metal parts that are worn or superfluous.” The term also includes products made of metal that become worn out such as scrap automobiles and radiators. Excluded scrap metal (processed scrap metal, unprocessed home scrap metal, and unprocessed prompt scrap metal) is not a secondary material because it is excluded from the definition of solid waste.

Keep reading our blog to learn more about solid waste recycling. Check back soon for information about the different types of recycling a solid waste can be part of. All information for this blog post was gathered from the EPA Document, Definition of Solid Waste and Hazardous Waste Recycling. As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full rules and regulations.

Plastic Identification: How to Categorize Your Waste

Information for this weeks post was found via the The Green Guide. Below, you will find the different classifications of plastic, common items in each category, and information about recycling. To read more from The Green Guide Network click here.



Plastic #1: Polyethylene terephtalate, also known as PETE or PET.  Usually clear in color, the vast majority of disposable soda and water bottles are made of #1 plastic. This plastic is considered generally safe and is picked up by most curbside recycling programs. However, the porous nature of its surface allows bacteria and flavor to accumulate, so avoid reusing these bottles as makeshift containers.



Plastic #2: High-density polyethylene, or HDPE.  Most milk jugs, detergent bottles, juice bottles, butter tubs, and toiletries bottles are made of HDPE. Usually opaque in color and picked up by most recycling programs. This plastic is considered safe and has low risk of leaching.



Plastic #3: Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. It is used to make food wrap, bottles for cooking oil, and the highly common plumbing pipes. PVC, although tough in terms of strength, is not considered safe to cook food near. PVC contains softening chemicals called phthalates that interfere with hormonal development. Never cook using food wrap, especially in a microwave oven. This plastic is rarely accepted by recycling programs.



Plastic #4: Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is used to make grocery bags, some food wraps, squeezable bottles, and bread bags. While considered safe it is unfortunately not often accepted by curbside recycling programs.



Plastic #5: This is polypropylene. Common items produced with it include yogurt cups, medicine bottles, ketchup, syrup bottles, straws and similar wide-necked containers, as well as water bottles with a cloudy finish. This plastic is also considered safe, and is increasingly being accepted by curbside recycling programs.



Plastic #6: Polystyrene, or Styrofoam, from which disposable containers and packaging are made. Also found in disposable plates and cups. Overwhelming evidence suggests that this type of plastic leaches potentially toxic chemicals, especially when heated. Try to avoid the use of #6 plastic as much as possible. It is difficult to recycle and most recycling programs won’t accept it.



Plastic #7: This category basically means “everything else” and is composed of plastics that were invented after 1987 – the use of plastic in this category is at your own risk since you don’t know what could be in it. Polycarbonate falls into this category, including the highly toxic BPA. Products produced include baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, CD’s, DVD’s, and even iPods. It is wise to dispose of any food or drink related product that is known to contain BPA. It is difficult to recycle #7 plastic and most curbside recycling programs won’t accept it.


Where do you recycle your plastics?