OMNIA Partners Blog

Evolving Policy Changes Affecting Waste Management Compliance

Posted by Megan Urbas on May 23, 2017

All businesses and industrial facilities create waste, it is simply a by-product of business. Usually, as production increases to fulfill demand, so does the volume of waste. This is where the fundamental challenges of waste management come into play for all businesses.

It is time for procurement to work with internal stakeholders and identify a strategic partner that can aid in the management of your organization’s long-term environmental liability initiatives.


There is exceedingly higher potential for regulatory reform when a new administration goes into effect. Policies are typically adjusted in the areas of enforcement and expansion of existing regulations or creation of new regulations.

It can be complicated to fully grasp the scope of laws that each business is responsible to abide by and it becomes exponentially more difficult as the laws change with frequency. There have been significant changes to waste management laws in recent history. Many Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) penalty fines have almost doubled, or in some cases tripled. For example, in August 2016 the maximum penalty for the improper disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste listed in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was raised from $37,500 per violation/day to $70,117. These fines are retroactive to November 2015. The penalties can easily begin to diminish profits and threaten innovation opportunities. Imagine the innovation that your business could capitalize on with $70,117.00 or $140,234.00.

OSHA penalty fine increases you need to know:

OSHA Fine Increases Infographic

These penalties are not industry or business size inclusive. For example, no matter if you are a dry cleaner or manufacturing operation, you will receive the same penalty if you are not properly managing your waste. Since the penalty is charged per day, violations left uncorrected could potentially bankrupt a business. This makes it even more vital than ever to stay up-to-date with evolving policies.


Looking at the dollar signs associated with penalties is jarring and should be eye-opening; nevertheless, many businesses have the mentality of “that won’t happen to me.” On the contrary, in 2016 the EPA gained more than $13.7 billion in enforcement penalties by companies in actions and equipment control pollution.

You may recall the landmark case decided in June 2016 that included totals of $14.7 billion to remedy Clean Air Act violations. That $14.7 billion is only the settlement cost and it does not include the $4.7 billion that will be spent to mitigate pollution from the product or the additional compensation due to consumers.

Key 2016 at-a-glance penalty enforcement action statistics:

  • More than $1 billion in commitments from responsible parties to clean up Superfund sites
  • $6 billion in combined federal administrative, civil judicial penalties and criminal fines
  • 93 combined years of incarceration for sentenced defendants through the criminal program, secured $775,000 in court-ordered environmental projects and generated $207 million in fines and restitution
  • $31.6 million for supplemental environmental projects that provide direct benefits to local communities across the country
  • 62 billion pounds of hazardous waste committed to be treated, minimized or properly disposed of as the result of enforcement actions (up from 535 million pounds in 2015)

With EPA reported penalties of this magnitude and frequency, it is easy to understand why regulatory pressures weigh heavily on corporate leadership. This pressure can often cascade to procurement, with respect to risk and cost mitigation for waste management.


Safe waste management can be viewed as burdensome due to the ever-changing penalty structure and necessary compliance risks. Maintaining up-to-date knowledge of legal requirements can tie up a significant amount of internal resources, making it time consuming for businesses to navigate disposal efforts without the proper supplier partner. While numerous factors will still affect the severity of fine amounts, a supplier can serve as your safety net protecting both your profits and the environment.


Implementing a successful waste management program will provide multiple benefits like risk mitigation and promotion of health and safety. Start a conversation at your business to address your waste management lifecycle.

Learn more about how Corporate United can help your business dispose of potential environmental risk through a dedicated Total Waste Management program.

Topics: Facilities, Infographic, Total Waste Management, MPS Group

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