Walking through any grocery store or large department store, one thing stands out. We may not always think about it, but it’s there. The floors of these stores are always shiny. Having shiny floors makes the store look nice and clean. Clean, shiny floors are a way to entice shoppers on a subconscious level to stay and shop. Clean floors look nice too, so it stands to large chain stores would put a lot of effort into keeping their floors shiny. They do this ritually, on a nightly basis, always ensuring their floors look great, but at what cost to the environment?
The billions of gallons of toxic waste created by using floor cleaners containing zinc need to be disposed of somewhere, and according to news reports and lawsuits, more than several major chain grocery and department stores have disposed of these toxic wastes improperly for decades, leading to lawsuits settled in the millions. Many of these stores have been taken to court or fined for illegally disposing of toxic waste. These companies are poisoning our eco-system, but it certainly isn’t for the sake of shinier floors. There are far more reasons these companies find to fill our environment with these harmful substances. Are their reasons worth the price we pay in the long run?
Why Do Companies Dispose of Hazardous Waste Illegally?
To many of us, understanding the reason companies dispose of hazardous waste illegally is a challenge. There are actually several reasons a company would choose to dispose of toxic materials illegally. In most cases, companies are trying to cut corners and save money by avoiding the disposal fees associated with proper disposal. Another reason some companies choose to dispose of hazardous waste illegally is a lack of qualified manpower. Some companies simply don’t understand what falls into the category of hazardous waste, though it seems unlikely this is the case in most instances where a company regularly disposes of toxic materials. Many companies dispose of their waste at night or in out-of-the-way places because they know the consequences they can face for getting caught.
The logic behind disposing of toxic waste illegally doesn’t hold. Companies that get caught dumping waste illegally face fines and lawsuits that make any money saved in disposal fees moot. The cost of properly training staff to dispose of hazardous waste properly would pale in comparison to the large settlements of the lawsuits brought against these offending companies. There are not only federal laws in place to prevent illegal toxic waste dumping, there are laws at the state level. Dumping floor cleaners, pesticides, chlorine, and other hazardous substances and materials illegally doesn’t make good sense in the long run. The risk of fines and lawsuits far outweigh the perceived benefits of dumping toxic waste into our rivers and streams.
Negative Effects of Releasing Zinc into the Environment
One of the biggest sources of toxic waste is the billions of gallons of used floor finishing products dumped into lakes, streams, and rivers every year by corporations large and small. Most of these floor cleaning products contain zinc, in addition to many other harmful chemicals. It is true that zinc is found naturally in the environment. Zinc can be found naturally in the air, water, and in soil. This leads many to believe, falsely, that releasing zinc into the environment is not a problem. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Due to human interference, such as the disposal of floor cleaners and products meant for making floors shine, zinc levels have risen beyond natural levels. This can cause a plethora of health issues. Although human beings can sustain relatively large amounts of zinc, getting too much of it can cause stomach cramps, skin irritation, and even severe anemia. Excessive amounts of zinc can cause problems with the pancreas or throw off protein metabolism and cause thickening or hardening of the arteries. In severe cases, an overabundance of zinc can lead to respiratory issues. This is why disposing of products like floor cleaners and floor finishing products improperly will have definite negative consequences on the environment.
Dangers of Improper Disposal of Toxic Waste
Besides the large amount of floor finishing products being dumped into lakes, streams, and rivers, many major corporations have been sued for disposing of other dangerous toxic substances. The dangers of improperly disposing of these additional waste materials to the environment have been extensive. A major department store found itself at the center of several local lawsuits alleging the wrongful disposal of not only zinc floor cleaners, but pesticides, bleach and chlorine products, and other chemical cleaning agents. One major grocery chain found itself the subject of lawsuits alleging the same behavior. These lawsuits were settled for millions of dollars.
Major corporations include soil contamination, air pollution, and contamination of surface water. The consequences of polluting rivers and lakes, and streams include destruction of water wildlife and the destruction of surrounding habitats, not to mention potential hazards to people. Chemicals dumped into natural water sources have an adverse effect on drinking water and can cause sickness and disease.
With these extensive health issues at stake, we can no longer afford not to consider making changes. Poisoning our eco-system and putting everyone at risk for short- and long-term health issues is no longer an option. Without changes in the way we use harmful products, or the elimination of harmful chemical-based products altogether, companies will continue to dispose of them with no regard to the effects it will have on our planet as a whole.
Policies and Guidelines Regarding Proper Disposal of Hazardous Material
There are numerous dangers associated with improper disposal of toxic waste created by using toxic chemical-based cleaning supplies, including floor cleaners with zinc as an ingredient. The EPA sets guidelines for the proper disposal of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the public law that creates the framework for the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste. The law describes the waste management program mandated by Congress that gave EPA authority to develop the RCRA program. The term RCRA is often used interchangeably to refer to the law, regulations and EPA policy and guidance.”
The EPA guidelines are in place to ensure businesses adhere to a uniform set of guidelines that are designed to protect our rivers, lakes, streams, forests, and natural resources. Many businesses owners and corporations regularly ignore the guidelines in an effort to save money, disposing of hazardous waste improperly in landfills or by dumping directly into our lakes and rivers. This is illegal and poses a serious threat to people and the environment. Companies large and small have been guilty of ignoring EPA disposal policies for decades, with no regard for the fallout caused by toxic waste.
There are ways to dispose of hazardous waste materials safely and legally. Each state has specified landfills and hazardous waste pick up services available. Better yet, be aware of the products you use. Green products are available. Use them when you can. Discarded cleaning products are one of the biggest contributors to the toxic pollutants in our air, water, and soil. The more care placed into choosing eco-friendly products, the less damage you will do to the environment and the less health risk you’ll pose to people.
Promoting Environmental Awareness with Better Products
Here at GenEon, we find ways to protect the environment while maintaining quality in our products. Our chemical-free cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting solutions and systems are engineered with the health of consumers and the safety of the environment in mind. Products like our mineral electrolyte are ideal for businesses and institutions of all kinds. Our electrolytes are food-based additives classified and generally regarded as safe by the U.S. FDA.
At GenEon, all of our cleaners, sanitizers, and disinfectants are generated using our on-site generation technology. This means consumers mix their products as they need them, completely eliminating the need to store harmful toxic chemicals. Our cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting products are effective against germs without posing a threat to people or to the environment, so disposing of them is never a problem.
GenEon strongly believes environmental awareness should be an essential part of our lives. Our cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting solutions, as well as our cleaning systems, are all designed with that goal in mind. We know our cleaning products are safe, effective, eco-friendly, and in line with the promise we should all make to the future. It isn’t about saving money at the cost of our environment or consumer health. Our promise to the future, and hopefully the promise of those in a position to make life-changing decisions, is that we will always do our best to provide products that are safe, effective, and sustainable.