Author: p1ws

Disposing of Grow Room Waste: A Pocket Guide

Disposing of grow room waste legally is one component of the burgeoning cannabis business that few growers likely considered when entering the cannabis market. However, as with any industry, by law, proper management and disposal of wastes generated by a company is a responsibility shared by all. For those in the cannabis industry, it is no different. 

Any waste generated onsite by a cannabis business, especially disposing of grow room waste, is subject to regulatory oversight. Every state that has legalized cannabis has enacted rules, procedures, and guidelines for the proper disposal of cannabis waste. This would include the waste generated at cannabis cultivation facilities and production facilities, retail stores, dispensaries, testing facilities, and so forth. 

For some, there may be a misperception about how to properly manage cannabis waste generated at facilities. In large part because cannabis waste is quite rightly perceived and classified as organic material. Yet, that waste is still subject to regulation and, depending on how it is processed, whether or not it is classified as either hazardous or nonhazardous. 

With an increasing number of states legalizing cannabis every election cycle, the need to develop regulations and requirements for how to properly dispose of cannabis waste became readily apparent. As the usable trim and flowers of each plant account for approximately 10% to 15% of the weight harvested, the remaining weight, the chaff, is the plant’s waste. It’s not uncommon—if not routine—for processors to generate thousands of pounds of such waste per month. Though the rules for its disposal are regularly fine tuned, they differ slightly from state to state. 

This is true for the State of Maine, where businesses must be in compliance with managing cannabis waste. If you’re in the cannabis business, there is no reason not to know the procedures for legally managing and disposing of grow room waste. Failure to comply can result in heavy fines or in some cases, loss of license to grow altogether. 

Nonhazardous Cannabis Waste

Though cannabis plants, their trimmings, stalks, and other plant matter are not considered hazardous material, under Maine law, any waste product that contains more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) must be transported for disposal by an authorized entity, such as a licensed waste management and disposal company, or personnel from a law enforcement agency like the DEA. Additionally, in general, all plant waste must be “rendered unusable” before leaving a facility. For materials to be considered unusable they must be ground and mixed at a 50:50 ratio with another authorized organic waste material. This would include food wastes, animal manures, debris from yard waste, and the like. 

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)  encourages the composting of cannabis waste as long as it doesn’t contain any harmful solvents or chemical extraction agents like methane, butane or propane that could render it hazardous and unsuitable for agricultural use. Composting cannabis waste can occur on the farm where it was grown, other farms where cannabis is grown, or at designated DEP off-farm agricultural composting sites.

Other nonhazardous disposal options for cannabis waste are solid waste landfills or incinerators that have been licensed by the DEP to accept municipal solid waste. Cannabis waste can also be disposed of at aerobic digestion facilities which are licensed to receive organic materials from municipal solid waste streams.

Hazardous Cannabis Waste Considerations

Though it may be difficult to conceive that cannabis processing could produce hazardous waste, the fact remains that there are production processes that do render the waste hazardous. Some extraction methods of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) oils use solvents that often produce hazardous waste in solid or liquid form. Even secondary distillation methods used to extract cannabinoids from the plant can render the waste hazardous. 

In short, any cannabis waste that contains chemical extraction agents such as butane, methane, propane or other solvents, are considered a hazardous waste which must be disposed of according to Maine’s DEP Hazardous Waste Management Rules.  

Disposing of grow room waste properly and legally is the responsibility of every cannabis farmer. Whether waste generated at a facility is hazardous or nonhazardous, waste of any kind must be disposed of in accordance with state laws and regulations. Maine Labpack offers comprehensive cannabis waste management services for cannabis waste generators, as well as dispensary recycling services. To learn more about our hazardous disposal services, contact Maine Labpack today.

Maine Sharps Disposal Regulations: How Each State Differs

As a medical waste, sharps disposal regulations by state can vary considerably. Though federal agencies issue guidelines, protocols, and mandates for the safe disposal of sharps, every state has its disposal guidelines or requirements for safely handling, storing, and disposing of sharps. The laws governing how sharps are disposed of in Maine differ from those in Massachusetts, which are different from those in any other New England state. 

Perhaps the one commonality shared by federal and state regulations is that once a sharp has been used, it is recognized as a medical waste that needs to be safely disposed of. How that is accomplished may differ, but everyone agrees as much for the common good as by common sense that safely disposing of sharps helps protect the public and the workers that handle them from possible infectious disease transmission and unnecessary injury.

What Are Sharps?

As the name suggests, a sharp is a medical term that refers to any medical device with a sharp edge or point that can cut or puncture the skin of people or animals. This would include familiar devices such as needles and syringes for injecting or withdrawing fluids into or from the body. Other devices include lancets, auto-injectors, infusion sets, and connection needle sets. For administering a vaccine or blood test, treating allergies or diabetes, or delivering meds, sharps are widely used for various medical conditions and applications. 

Once a sharp has been used, it is considered medical waste. Often referred to, by definition, as ‘regulated medical waste,’ medical waste is healthcare waste contaminated by body fluids, blood, or other potentially infectious materials from a person or animal. As a medical device contaminated by body fluids or blood, sharps are regulated medical waste that must be disposed of properly. 

Sharps Disposal Regulations by State: Maine

Federal agencies such as the Department of Transportation (DOT) specify packaging and regulate the transportation of medical waste. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) administers Bloodborne Pathogen standards to protect employee health and safety. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has guidelines to treat or decontaminate medical wastes to reduce the microbial load on the waste to render it safe for further handling. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues recommendations for sharps disposal containers for labs and health care facilities, but also for disposal of needles and other sharps used by individuals at home, on the job, or while traveling. That said, it remains under state jurisdiction to manage and regulate medical waste, generally through a state’s health and/or environmental agencies or departments. 

The healthcare industry in Maine uses millions of sharps annually for medical applications and to treat and control medical conditions. Tens of thousands of Mainers routinely use sharps at home to treat diabetes, arthritis, and allergies. It’s against the law in Maine to improperly dispose of sharps in the trash, flush them down the toilet, or stockpile them. Individuals who use home-generated sharps like lancets, syringes, and hypodermic needles to treat chronic conditions are responsible for their sharps disposal in FDA-cleared sharps containers, which are generally available through pharmacies, medical supply companies, health care providers, and online. 

The State of Maine recognizes medical waste’s public health and environmental hazards and the potential for transmitting pathogenic and infectious diseases such wastes can carry. Medical waste management in Maine is classified as biomedical waste, and its handling and disposal are subject to regulation by the Board of Environmental Protection. The law requires the registration of biomedical waste generators. It also establishes requirements for packaging, labeling, handling, storage, transportation, and treatment of biomedical waste and licensing all transporters and owners or operators of transfer facilities and treatment facilities. The disposal of untreated biomedical waste is prohibited by law. 

Contact Maine Labpack for Biomedical Waste Disposal

Maine Labpack recognizes that each state’s disposal regulations and requirements for biomedical waste differ. We offer comprehensive, no-contract biomedical waste disposal for various generators, such as hospitals, health clinics, research laboratories, physician offices, dental clinics, and veterinarian offices. Following state regulations, our experts on biomedical waste arrive at your facility or site, remove your pre-packaged waste, and supply you with containers for future pickups. In this regard, we ensure that all our customers comply.

To learn more about our no-contract biomedical waste services and how we can dispose of your sharps, please get in touch with us today

How to Dispose of Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Fluorescent light bulbs and lamps are well-regarded for their energy efficiency and long service hours. However, it’s important to know how to dispose of fluorescent light bulbs and lamps because fluorescent lights contain heavy toxic metals that are regulated hazardous waste. That waste is principally mercury and mercury-laden vapor, but lead, cadmium, nickel, arsenic, chromium, and gadolinium can all be found in fluorescent lights. To comply with the law, states like Maine require institutions, companies, and consumers alike to recycle all mercury-added light bulbs properly.     

Why Proper Disposal is Important

Though hazards related to fluorescent light bulbs have been known for some time, they are so commonplace that many people overlook, do not consider, or even realize how potentially harmful they are. Fluorescent tubing and bulbs are filled with an inert gas comprising 15 mg of mercury, part of which is in vapor form. Though that vapor emits ultraviolet radiation (UV) when an electric current is applied to the electrodes, it’s also toxic. When fluorescent bulbs shatter, mercury vapor is released into the air. That in itself not only presents a health hazard. Mercury is a neurotoxin, but a source of environmental contamination if not appropriately cleaned and disposed of.

Nonetheless, public places everywhere—schools, stores, businesses, factories, plants, and various institutions—use fluorescent lights for their low energy consumption relative to electrical power supply. But it also means that millions of spent bulbs are discarded each year. That alone makes fluorescent lights the largest source of mercury in the waste stream and is why it is classified as a universal waste.

Universal wastes are hazardous wastes regulated by states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These types of waste are generated by virtually all businesses, households, and public spaces, and proper disposal and recycling are required by law. Common universal wastes are batteries, thermostats and thermometers, televisions, computers, flat panel displays, various types of light bulbs and lamps like high-pressure sodium, metal halide, and ballasts containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and, of course, fluorescent lights and bulbs. 

Mercury-added light bulbs are not limited to types of fluorescent lighting such as compact fluorescent (CFL) or linear fluorescent (straight, circline, and u-tubes), but mercury and heavy metals are also found in neon lights, black lights, UV lights, and high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs. HID lights and lighting is used extensively for security and illumination in outdoor warehouses and in industrial, retail, and various commercial settings and environments. If you are uncertain whether a light bulb contains mercury, look for the letters “Hg” (the elemental symbol for mercury) stamped within a small circle on the bulb. Then again, sometimes bulbs are labeled with the words “contains mercury.”

How to Dispose of Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Fortunately, fluorescent lights are recyclable. In Maine and other states, the lights, or any mercury-added lamps, cannot be disposed of in the trash and must be recycled as mandated. To comply with the law, businesses and institutions should create a plan for their proper removal. For the sake of their own health, all staff should be made aware of the potential hazards of fluorescent lighting if broken, and responsible staff should know, procedurally, how to dispose of fluorescent light bulbs in the building. Fluorescent lights are fragile and need to be handled carefully. Do not tape or band them together. They will break under stress. Used lamps and bulbs can be placed in the boxes in which they came. To ensure they are not shattered, store them in a safe, dry area and other universal wastes until it’s time for proper disposal.  

A single box of bulbs can be brought to designated recycling centers—located everywhere. However, to ensure compliance and safety, businesses and institutions that generate large amounts of universal waste are better served by working with an experienced company to properly dispose of EPA-sanctioned waste. 

Contact the Experts at Maine Labpack

Maine Labpack has over 20 years of experience in packaging and safely transporting such wastes for disposal, including universal wastes like fluorescent light bulbs. We offer free consultation and estimates for disposal. Our service area covers Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, and we maintain a healthy liaison with each state’s environmental agencies. For more information on how we can help you manage your disposal needs, contact our team at Maine Labpack. 

Dangerous Goods: Shipping Lab Samples

Are you having trouble shipping samples or dangerous goods from your workplace?

Often, chemical samples need to be shipped for analysis to labs across the country and sometimes the world. However, these materials, when considered hazardous under International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidance, are often rejected by shipping companies, because they are considered dangerous goods shipments.

Prior to offering a dangerous good to an air carrier, hazardous materials regulations require the shipper to classify, package, mark, and label the shipment. Only trained personnel can then prepare and sign the required paperwork to forward the shipment to the carrier. Dangerous Goods Package

For example, many paper mills in Maine must ship samples of their black liquor to laboratories in Canada or the Pacific Northwest for analysis. Black liquor, a by-product of the Kraft process that digests pulpwood, contains caustic, corrosive chemicals that must be properly identified according to IATA. This means these mills must employ personnel or a contractor to manage these shipments according to applicable regulations.

Declaring your hazardous materials is imperative to ensure you and your company stay in compliance. For those who knowingly do not comply with these regulations, a fine upwards of $500,000 can be imposed on an individual. Meanwhile, a company may be dealt fines greater than $75,000 per violation, per day.

At Maine Labpack, we offer full-service shipping options that help get your samples across the globe. Our trained dangerous goods shippers properly package, label, and prepare documentation for your sample shipments to get them to the lab without delay. 

Interested in our Dangerous Goods services? Contact us today to learn more!

Guidelines for Storing Medical Waste

Medical waste, often called biohazardous waste, biomedical waste, infectious waste, red bag waste, etc., is a type of waste that is infectious or potentially infectious to humans or animals. This type of waste is generated in hospitals, health clinics, biotech research labs, or veterinarian offices. Generally medical waste is contaminated with blood, bodily fluids, or other potentially infectious materials and must be handled properly to ensure workers, patients, and the community is kept safe. 

How to Package Medical Waste

Biohazardous waste must be properly packaged to ensure containment and prevent leaks during storage, transport, and other handling procedures prior to arriving at the disposal facility. Impervious bags that are strong enough to resist tearing, ripping or bursting during usage and handling must be used to store and transport medical waste. All contaminated materials that are considered a “sharp” (needles, scalpels, etc.) must first be placed in a rigid container with a lid to prevent injury. Liquids in large volumes must also be placed in a container that is unbreakable, tightly seals, and sufficiently contains the materials for handling, storage and transport. 

How to Properly Store Medical Waste

Biomedical waste needs to be stored away from other types of waste in a clear, designated area. This is to ensure there is no confusion on the type of waste. In addition to storing away from other wastes, the medical waste storage area should be in a designated area that has limited foot traffic and prevents unauthorized access. The climate in the room should be managed in a way that prevents microbial growth and in some cases, like pathological waste, the medical waste needs to be stored below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. 

How to Properly Dispose of Biohazards

At Maine Labpack, we offer comprehensive, no-contract biomedical waste disposal for a variety of generators. We’re here to help you keep your staff safe, and your facility in compliance with regulations. Our biohazardous material experts arrive on site, remove your pre-packaged waste, and supply you with containers for future pickups. To learn more about our biomedical waste services, please contact us.

Radioactive Waste Management

Radioactive Waste Management

Radioactive material is unique in the sense that it is not disposed by one of the normal means. Those normal means entail fuels blending, incineration, recycling, and neutralization.

While the Department of Transportation (DOT) classifies Radioactive Material as a Hazard Class 7 (thus, not as dangerous as a Hazard Class 1 Explosive) it obviously must meet certain criteria for shipping across our nation’s roadways for ultimate disposal at federally monitored facilities.

The level of radioactivity is determined by isotope quantity. An indicator of this level is given by a certified Geiger Counter.  Isotope levels determine the personal hazard level of various chemicals.  For instance, Cobalt 60 is used in minimizing the spread of cancer and Plutonium 238 acts as an electrical source of power for pacemakers and spacecraft equipment. There are also the much more sinister uses of these materials. The federal government regulates these types of chemicals and imposes restrictions on all of them.

Radioactive Waste Disposal

In many cases, these chemicals are disposed of at a registered and permitted secure radioactive chemical landfill. The transport of such chemicals has to be conducted in a permitted transport vehicle that is itself inspected often for radioactivity.

When we review your chemical inventory for packing, transport, and ultimate disposal, we assess the level at which the radioactive elements have to be handled. We file the appropriate paperwork that enables this waste to be packed and taken away safely and in accordance with all the federal requirements.

Discussing the proper options allowed for a particular radioactive chemical also derives the cost. Of all the hazardous waste streams, this hazard class can be the most expensive disposal cost regardless of quantity, volume, or weight.

The decision to purchase any such element should also incorporate the estimated disposal cost that inevitably comes up at the end of the useable product life. To budget this cost early is critical. Costs vary due to quantity, volume, weight, location of pickup and carrier limitations.

Where we find it

The market for radioactive disposal fluctuates. Some users consistently generate this waste (analytical labs, testing facilities, hospitals) and some users are very infrequent users (schools, demolition companies, veterinary shops).

Radioactive items are found in almost everyday items we see around us such as the older “EXIT” signs located in public facilities, smoke and fire detectors, x-ray machines, even older watches containing radium.

As time passes, equipment with these hazards are being outdated and surpassed by newer technology equipment that is less dangerous to health and environment.

When there is a question regarding the radioactive issue at your facility, contact Maine Labpack, Inc. for more information on how to properly manage this very important waste stream

Hazardous Waste Guide: Antifreeze Waste

Antifreeze, often referred to as coolant, is a yellowish-green liquid that serves as a lubricant for moving parts in a machine such as a water pump. Coolant treats the water in a radiator and engine from freezing in cold temperatures, but also from boiling over in hot temperatures. Most antifreezes contain the compound ethylene glycol; ethylene glycol, when ingested may cause heart and kidney failure. So what do you do with antifreeze waste?

Is Waste Antifreeze Regulated?

While there are no federal regulations for the management and disposal of ethylene glycol based antifreeze that does not mean it is not hazardous. Antifreeze is not considered a “solid waste” according to the EPA (United State’s Environmental Protection Agency) and therefore is not regulated or considered a “hazardous waste.” However, some states have specific regulations set for the disposal of antifreeze based solely on its toxicity. For example, the state of Vermont regulates ethylene glycol in solutions greater than 700 parts per million.

How Do You Dispose of Antifreeze?

Recycling of antifreeze is always the first recommendation for generators of waste. In cases where that is not possible, antifreeze must be disposed of properly. According to the EPA, used antifreeze “may not be dumped with regular trash, poured into the sewer or poured onto the ground.” Instead, the material must be disposed of at a secure chemical landfill or a landfill which has been designated for used antifreeze disposal.

Where Is There an Antifreeze Landfill?

In most cases, the general public does not have access to a landfill where antifreeze is accepted. Instead, generator’s typically ship their used, unrecyclable antifreeze with a licensed hazardous waste disposal company. Hazardous waste haulers generally have access to disposal facilities that will dispose of chemical solutions not fit for the standard residual waste.

Do You Have Used Antifreeze to Dispose of?

Maine Labpack, Inc. is a licensed hazardous waste disposal company with access to a variety of disposal outlets, including those who accept used antifreeze. 

Have antifreeze to dispose of? Contact us today to learn more about disposal options. 

Universal Waste Guide: Mercury Containing Equipment

Certain categories of hazardous waste are regulated under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruling as Universal Waste. Universal waste, or “UW”, is a category of hazardous waste commonly generated by a wide variety of establishments and is regulated in a manner that promotes recycling, eases the regulatory burden on homeowners and retail stores, and encourages the development of municipal and commercial recycling programs. Universal waste management is essential to protecting both employees and the environment from potential risks. (more…)

Universal Waste Guide: Lamps & Light Bulbs

Certain categories of hazardous waste are regulated under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruling as Universal Waste. Universal waste, or “UW”, is a category of hazardous waste commonly generated by a wide variety of establishments and is regulated in a manner that promotes recycling, eases regulatory burden on homeowners and retail stores, and encourages the development of municipal and commercial recycling programs. 

Universal Waste Categories

There are five types of Universal Waste as defined by Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 273: batteries, pesticides, mercury containing devices, lamps or light bulbs, and aerosol cans.

Lamps Regulated As Universal Waste

40 CFR part 273 defines a lamp as any portion of a lighting fixture that is used to produce radiant light. These materials include: 

  • Fluorescent light bulbs
  • High intensity discharge (HID) light bulbs 
  • Neon light bulbs 
  • Mercury vapor light bulbs 
  • High pressure sodium light bulbs 
  • Metal halide light bulbs 
  • Ballasts (in Maine & Vermont only)

Generation & Storage of UW Lamps 

Nearly every home and facility produces Universal Waste lamps. Households, which are the least regulated, must properly dispose of lamps with their local municipality or recycling center. A small universal waste generator (SUWG) generates less than 200 pieces of universal waste in a month. A large universal waste generator (LUWG) accumulates more than 200 pieces of universal waste a month and they must obtain an EPA ID number. 

Lamps, in particular, become a Universal Waste when they are unusable. Once “burnt,” lamps should be placed in a sturdy, closable box and marked with the date the first lamp was placed inside. From then, the generator should keep the boxes in a locked secure location. 

Disposal & Recycling of Lamps 

At the recycling facility, bulbs are sorted by type and crushed. Mercury is pulled from the material and reclaimed, and metals are melted out of the waste for recycling. 

Do you need help managing your universal waste? Contact us to learn how we can help!

Hazardous Waste Guide: Vermiculite

Many customers ask us why we pour what looks like gravel or dirt into their containers of hazardous waste or dangerous goods shipments. Like shipping any material, hazardous goods need something to cushion them during shipment. So, what are the materials we use for that? The answer is vermiculite.

Vermiculite, or “verm” for short, is a shiny, fire-resistant, absorbent mineral that looks similar to gravel, but is very lightweight. Generally, it has a gold-like sheen and has visible layers within its small pieces. You may have come across the mineral in the gardening section of your local hardware store, or in the insulation in your attic. But, what are the benefits of vermiculite for shipping dangerous goods and hazardous materials? (more…)