Retail Universal Waste Compliance Doesn’t Need to Be Difficult
By Scott Thibodeau, [email protected]
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and compliance with it, remains a regulatory challenge for the retail industry. Many retailers are forced to become experts in waste characterization to ensure compliance with environmental regulations, something that has become difficult for resource strapped retailers. While RCRA was originally developed to prevent the improper disposal of hazardous waste, the regulations were typically suited for industrial, manufacturing and chemical-related industries.
Thankfully, managing certain hazardous wastes generated by retailers doesn’t need to be difficult. The Environmental Protection Agency established the Universal Waste Rule in 1995. EPA’s universal waste regulations streamline hazardous waste management standards for federally designated "universal wastes," which include batteries, mercury-containing equipment and fluorescent lamps.
Millions of fluorescent lamps are sold in the United States each year and most are improperly discarded. According to the Association of Lamp and Mercury Recyclers (ALMR), up to 70% of all lamps disposed in the United States are not recycled. This poses a risk to both the environment and retailers that are not properly recycling their mercury-containing fluorescent lamps. From an environmental perspective, although the amount of mercury in a single fluorescent lamp is small (ranging less than 2 milligrams to 15 milligrams for common fluorescent lamps), collectively the large numbers of fluorescent lamps can contribute significantly to the amount of mercury that is released into the environment if fluorescent lamps are not recycled. When mercury is released to the environment, it can contaminate waterways where it ends up in fish that are then consumed by humans and other animals.
The universal waste regulations govern the collection and management of these widely generated wastes and eases the regulatory burden on retail stores, thus facilitating environmentally sound collection and proper recycling or treatment.
Many of today’s retailers have or are currently retrofitting or re-lamping their stores to more energy efficient lighting systems such as T8 and T5 linear fluorescents, light emitting diode (LED) as well as installing battery operated point of purchase displays. Still, others are implementing collection and return programs for compact fluorescents and batteries brought back to their stores by their customers. At the end of these projects, many retailers are left with hazardous mercury containing fluorescent lamps, PCB or non-PCB lamp ballast and mixed batteries that may contain corrosive materials such potassium hydroxide (lye) or sulfuric acid; or reactive metals such as lithium; or toxic metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel.
In addition to the waste, retailers are strapped to the logistical nightmare of having the waste picked up in a timely manner and managed in accordance with disposal regulations to ensure environmental compliance.
While most retailers excel at reverse logistics to consolidate goods and minimize transportation costs, this is best used and designed to consolidate products intended for resale, vendor returns or charitable donations. The current regulatory framework does not allow for retailers to utilize reverse logistics to consolidate waste in many cases, leaving a need for a regional environmental service provider to service local stores.
While small single store retailers can benefit from working with a local environmental service provider, multi-store retailers can find it challenging to work with multiple regional environmental services providers, specifically as it relates to program consistency between stores, compliant labeling and packaging, on-time service, pricing and down-stream auditing of processing facilities. Having a single point of access for regulatory compliance documentation and reporting is also virtually impossible when working with multiple environmental service providers.
For retailers, the solution really comes down to addressing a few high level items. First make the recycling program easy and reproducible. Whether the retailer has one location or hundreds across the country, the program has to work the same way from facility to facility and be easily implementable. Training is required and needs to be easily accessible as employees turnover and are required to manage the process.
Second, the recycling program needs to be consistent whether the retailer is managing one location or multiple locations. It is imperative that the process is the same, the packaging is the same, the labeling is the same and the retailer has a single point of contact for questions or concerns.
Third, the recycling program has to be cost-effective. While the cost of compliance cannot be overlooked, given the recent multi-million dollar fines imposed on some retailers, the programs offered by environmental service providers need to be flexible and based on retailer need instead of fitting a retailer into a “one size fits all” service offering.
Fourth, the recycling program has to be managed by a reputable environmental service provider with adequate financial stability, insurance and indemnification programs that protect retailer’s long-term liability.
Last, the recycling program needs to be documentable. Retailers love sustainability and telling the story. Managers should have access to environmental reporting and documentation at their fingertips with a few clicks of a mouse.
While the industry is constantly evolving and making strides toward reducing the amount of hazardous materials like mercury in fluorescent lamps, retailers should weigh their options closely to choose a recycling program that reduces environmental liability, limits costs and minimizes complexities.
Scott Thibodeau, business development manager, electronics recycling, Veolia ES Technical Solutions, is a division of Veolia Environmental Services North America Corp., whose service offering includes turn-key industrial cleaning and maintenance services, and the treatment, recycling and disposal of hazardous and regulated wastes in North America. He can be reached at [email protected].
Genco Marketplace has new CEO
Supply chain and reverse logistics provider Genco has named Laurie Barkman as the new president and CEO of Genco Marketplace, Genco’s wholly owned liquidation subsidiary.
Barkman has served as Genco Marketplace’s chief operating officer since July 2013. In her new role, Barkman will be responsible for driving expansion into new liquidation markets and developing a world-class team.
Since joining Genco Marketplace, Barkman has focused her efforts on expanding the company’s inventory assortment and buyer base to drive its continual growth. Barkman has more than 15 years of strategic retail industry and online marketing leadership experience, including at American Eagle Outfitters and the Art Institutes, a system of 50 schools in North America.
"We are pleased to name Laurie as the new president and CEO of Genco Marketplace. The depth of her experience and skill that she brings has already proven to be invaluable to the continued growth and success of Genco Marketplace," said Herb Shear, Genco’s executive chairman.
Robert R. Auray Jr. served as president and CEO of Genco Marketplace for the past seven years. During that time, Auray is credited with doubling Genco Marketplace’s revenue and increasing earnings at a 20% per-year rate. Auray will continue to serve in his role as a vice chairman at Genco working on strategic business initiatives.
Genco Marketplace is a leading wholesale liquidator of retail returns and surplus inventories. The company’s resale channels include direct sales by the truckload to high-volume buyers, internet auctions of pallet quantities on the company’s B2B website and sales of individual items on the company’s bargain shopping site for consumers.
Genco is a leading third-party logistics provider for manufacturers, retailers and U.S. government. It operates 140 value-added warehouse locations totaling 35 million sq. ft. and manages $1.5 billion in freight annually throughout North America.
Rite Aid bolsters Wellness Ambassador program with new position
Rite Aid has promoted Karen Staniforth, VP pharmacy for the chain’s mid-Atlantic division, to group VP pharmacy initiatives and clinical services.
In the new position, Staniforth will oversee Rite Aid’s strategy around the Wellness Ambassadors, specially trained staff who work in its Wellness stores, answering customers’ questions about health and wellness products and directing them to the pharmacy as needed. She will report to SVP pharmacy Dan Miller.
"Throughout her career, Karen has garnered critical knowledge and experience across several functional areas of the chained rug industry, making her a true asset to our company," Miller said. "Her valuable insights will guide us as we work to advance our clinical services and Wellness Ambassador programs, helping us highlight the expertise of our more than 11,000 pharmacists and providing superior care and health outcomes for our patients nationwide."
Staniforth started her pharmacy career in 1982 in Johannesburg and became regional sales manager for Novartis Pharmaceuticals in 1991, overseeing retail sales operations for the Swiss drug maker in Cape Town, South Africa. She began working for Rite Aid in 1998 as a graduate pharmacy intern after moving to the United States.
In other news, the company also said Monday that it would offer discounted flu vaccinations in recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week, which runs from Sunday through Dec. 14. Flu shots will be available for $24.99, a $5 discount from the usual price.
"Getting a flu shot is the single best way to protect yourself and those around you from getting the flu," Rite Aid EVP pharmacy Robert Thompson said. "The good news is, it’s not too late to get a flu shot, and by lowering the prices of flu shots during National Influenza Vaccination Week, we’re hoping to encourage people to get vaccinated and be protected throughout the winter months as flu activity is expected to increase."