The recycling industry is booming—are facility owners and operators properly covered against environmental exposures?
The recycling industry has recently seen tremendous growth — people around the country are taking a sustainable approach to living, using less, and recycling the materials that they do use. While many of the recyclers are construction companies and contractors looking to make a profit from their scraps, average households in states that reimburse people for recyclable goods are also joining this trend.
As more materials are shipped to local recycling centers, these facilities are increasing their environmental exposure, sometimes without knowing it. Materials may arrive that cannot be recycled, thus proper disposal is required. The influx of goods means longer periods of storage, and the recycling machines are running for longer periods of time, consuming more fuel. In addition, more traffic on these sites may increase the potential for the accumulation of petroleum hydrocarbons in the soil.
A specific sector of the recycling industry that has experienced remarkable growth is e-recycling. Owners of cell phones and computers span virtually every age group and geographic area in the US, so business for recyclers who handle and process these materials is rapidly increasing as well. This type of insured typically picks up these items, brings them back to a facility, and takes them apart to dispose of or reuse. Exposures for recyclers could include:
- Heavy metals associated with electronic components. These could leach into soils/groundwater at the recycling site or at a disposal site such as a landfill. The insured could have an exposure from improper handling or storage of the waste at their site or improper disposal of the waste at a non-owned facility.
- If the facility was involved in a fire, dangerous fumes or toxins from e-waste could be released into the atmosphere.
- Improper sorting/packaging/labeling of hazardous or non-hazardous materials.
- E-recycling facilities are generally located in industrial areas. These sites could be at risk for offsite contamination from a neighboring facility migrating onto the insured’s property.
- Over the road spills of hazardous waste.
- Much of this recycling takes place at warehouse facilities. If the site is not properly secured, there is the potential for theft or vandalism as the precious metals found in the e-waste are valuable.
- Onsite storage of chemicals, any storage tanks, or generators used at the facility.
For more information on insurance for recyclers, please call us at (800) 596-2156 or email us.
Environmental insurance products for recyclers include:
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