NAMPA, Idaho — For items that don’t make it to check out, it’s essential they’re properly disposed of. US Ecology is implementing a new technology that keeps hazardous waste out of reach.
“We completely rely on training and humans to make decisions, and while they’re great and the training is really solid, it takes a long time, its expensive, and its not perfect," said Vince Scheerer, the vice president of business development of national programs for US Ecology.
A set of cameras and scanners in the back of their trucks can pick out what the chemical makeup of each item is, and all the safety information needed for the technicians to sort and dispose of the waste.
“It classifies that product, and then it actually maps it to our waste profiles, that gives the technician the ability to have a 100% positive decision without having to sometimes guess, or get on the phone, or use the internet themselves to try and look things up, it speeds things up tremendously," said Scheerer.
US Ecology works with retail stores across the country to pick up and sort waste, both hazardous and not. The process typically takes between an hour and a half to two hours at each location.
"If we have like a pharmacy involved, our techs can be out there for 3-4 hours to do a pickup," said Scheerer.
The new system would take less than an hour, and the biggest benefit is it keeps the environment and the technicians safe.
"A real simple way of instead of the technician having to make the decision by reading the label or knowing this product out of the hundreds of other toilet bowl cleaners," said Scheerer. "It's automatic information."
Given the amount of retail stores across the country, even a small amount of hazardous waste adds up. US Ecology says there are 52 million pounds of hazardous waste in total across the country each year, so anything that helps keep it out of the environment is worth checking out.