Hazardous industrial waste is any type of waste by products produced by a business as part of the ongoing production of goods and services. In most countries, the disposal of this type of waste must be conducted in compliance with regulations set in place by a government agency charged with protecting the ecology of the community where the business operates facilities. In the United States, this task is typically managed by the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA.
At one time, the disposal of hazardous industrial waste was not monitored by governmental agencies. This meant that companies were expected on their own to recycle or otherwise process that waste in a manner that was responsible, ethical, and cost-effective. Over time, the fact that not all business operations were disposing of hazardous industrial waste in a manner that did not cause harm to the environment or to individual living in the community made it necessary to establish regulations and impose fines on any company that failed to follow those regulations. By the end of the 20th century, the majority of nations around the world had created some type of standards for hazardous industrial waste disposal that businesses operating within their borders were expected to follow.
One of the most common means of managing hazardous industrial waste today is recycling that waste into new products that are safe for use and pose no threat to the environment. While somewhat costly, this approach can minimize the need for new raw materials to be used in the production process, effectively offsetting the cost of purification of the waste. At other times, the recycling effort focuses on cleansing the waste so that completely new products can be developed from the purified materials. This strategy not only slows the use of limited natural resources, but also increases the options open to consumers when comparing the cost and quality of goods made from recycled materials versus those of goods made from recently harvested natural resources.
When hazardous industrial waste cannot be recycled and used safely, this means that some type of hazardous waste program to manage the disposal is necessary. In some countries, this means packing the waste into sealed containers that are then transported to specific facilities set aside to store the dangerous waste. This approach prevents the dumping of the waste into waterways or burying the waste in landfills, both approaches that can create a great deal of damage to the local ecology. All forms of hazardous industrial waste disposal must comply with all hazardous waste regulations required by local and national governments. Failure to do so can lead to various types of fines, closure of manufacturing facilities, and paying for all efforts required to reverse the damage caused by irresponsible dumping of the hazardous waste.