Retailers must meet numerous environmental requirements and face potentially large liabilities and brand risks for poor environmental management. An Environmental Management System (EMS) can help retailers meet their compliance obligations, make their environmental programs more effective, and possibly save money. EMS is a widely accepted systematic approach to improving an organization's environmental compliance and reducing environmental impacts. In addition, an Environmental Management Information System (which is an IT system for managing and tracking environmental requirements) can be a critical tool for managing requirements at hundreds or thousands of facilities across multiple states and hundreds of local jurisdictions. For more information visit the CRC Retail EMS Guidance page.
Maintenance activities at a retail site consist of managing the physical facility, such as mechanical rooms, the store interior, refrigeration units, and more. Environmental and compliance issues associated with maintenance include pest management, waste from maintenance and construction activities, lighting and re-lamping, HVAC and refrigeration system maintenance, and storage of hazardous materials.
Common maintenance wastes that need special management are spent halogen, High Intensity Discharge (HID), and fluorescent bulbs, batteries, and mercury-containing thermostats, all of which generally need to be managed as universal wastes. All of these items need to be stored in closed containers, which generally must be labeled with the facility name and address, the words "Universal Waste," the type of contents, and the accumulation start date. For more information on universal waste, visit CRC's Hazardous Waste page.
Tritium exit signs (one type of self-luminous exit signs) contain a radioactive form of hydrogen. These signs cannot be put in the regular trash and require special recordkeeping, handling, and disposal using companies licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The NRC has more information about these signs.
Several agencies regulate the storage of virgin hazardous materials at facilities either for facility maintenance or for sale to customers. EPA has information on emergency management for materials such as oil, chemicals, or other hazardous substances, and a list of chemicals subject to the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act. Other agencies with jurisdiction over the storage of hazardous materials include state fire marshals, local fire departments, and state and local emergency planning agencies.
Under EPCRA there are a number of requirements for facilities that use or store any "hazardous chemicals," which are defined as "substances for which a facility must maintain a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) under the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard." Requirements include reporting to the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and the local fire department, as well as making information public.
Commercial or institutional boilers (for example, boilers at a distribution center or a large department store) that burn fuels such as coal, oil, or biomass may be regulated under 40 CFR Part 63, Subpart JJJJJJ (under the Clean Air Act). There may also be regulations, including permit requirements, at the state level. EPA has information on boiler compliance, and the CRC Air page has more detail.
EPA and some states regulate emergency generators. Some states also require generators to be registered or permitted. Visit the CRC Air page for more information on emergency generators.
Pest management inside and outside the store should follow an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach. IPM combines prevention, monitoring, and control that is designed to eliminate pests while minimizing the use of toxic pesticides. Consider vendors that use IPM approaches rather than ones who rely exclusively on pesticides. The National Pesticide Information Center has more information on pesticide use. State and local jurisdictions may also regulate pesticide use, in some cases requiring notification, signage, and/or licensing and certification for pest control companies.
Most retailers use outside service providers for pest management. However, if pest management is conducted internally, be aware that there may be requirements for certified applicators and that state and local jurisdictions may have additional restrictions. Also, in addition to understanding legal requirements, make sure to follow correct management practices and to properly handle any waste generated.
Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Refrigerated Transportation use refrigerants that may contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are ozone depleting substances (ODSs). However, from January 1 2017, to January 1, 2019, EPA is phasing in changes the refrigerant management regulations, and one of the significant changes is that the refrigerants being regulated will expand to ODSs and any substitutes for ODS refrigerants. Title VI of the Clean Air Act has requirements that may apply to retailers who have large refrigerators/freezers, air conditioning units, or refrigerated transportation. The CRC Air page has more information on the specific requirements.
Many items used for cleanup and maintenance of retail stores (for example, bleach or detergents) or products returned, expired, recalled, or damaged at the store have the potential to be hazardous waste, and the facility managers are usually responsible for managing this waste. To minimize waste generation, use cleaning products until they are gone. Do not throw away containers with product still in them as, depending on the product, this could be considered disposal of a hazardous waste. Improper disposal of hazardous products, such as by pouring them down the drain, onto the ground, into storm drains, or putting them into the trash, can be potentially dangerous and against the law. State and local regulations can differ from federal requirements, so it is important to always check the rules in a store's jurisdiction. For more information, visit CRC's Hazardous Waste page or the CRC Department page that covers the product.
Storage tanks are regulated at the federal, state, and local levels with a number of requirements related to spill prevention, operations, training, and more. The CRC Tank page has more information.
Stormwater runoff from parking lots and building rooftops (often called nonpoint pollution) is subject to a number of requirements which can include permits. In addition, stormwater control features require maintenance in order to perform correctly. The CRC Water page has more information.
Environmental issues associated with landscaping include water and pesticide use (which is discussed above), as well as environmental impacts from power equipment. Water use may be restricted in some jurisdictions. Landscaping can be designed for low or no watering, which can also reduce maintenance, save energy, and reduce air pollution.
In case of an accidental spill or release of petroleum (from automobiles or delivery trucks), cleanup activities should follow spill cleanup procedures along the lines discussed in the CRC's Gasoline and Fuel Dealers page.
Items that may qualify as hazardous materials must be properly handled during shipping/receiving.
It is the shipper's responsibility to ensure that all hazardous materials are properly identified, classified, packaged, marked, labeled, and documented. The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) are rules issued by the Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for shipping products that are considered to be hazardous materials. These materials include, but are not limited to, items that are explosive, flammable, radioactive, corrosive, water reactive, gaseous, or poisonous. The regulations include a table of hazardous materials, which is available on the PHMSA website. The regulations define requirements for classification, packaging, hazard communication, shipping documents, security, incident reporting, handling, and transportation of hazardous materials. All employees who are involved in the transport of hazardous materials (including loading and unloading) must have training every three years.
Some "hazardous material" consumer products packaged for retail sales may be subject to significantly reduced requirements, for example, under the rules for ORM-D "consumer commodities" (no longer applicable to air shipments, and applicable only through December 31, 2020 for ground shipments) or Limited Quantities. Examples of products that may be hazardous materials and eligible for such reduced requirements include rubbing alcohol, aftershave lotion, hair spray, paints, aerosols, cleaners, and perfumes.
It is a common misunderstanding that Limited Quantity /ORM-D materials are fully exempt from HMR requirements. They are not and must still comply with certain requirements, such as general requirements for packaging to prevent breakage and leaking of liquids, and certain marking requirements (such as marking on the outer packaging to indicate the presence of ORM-D or Limited Quantities). ORM-D or Limited Quantity markings should not automatically be placed on all small boxes or totes used to ship consumer products, because such markings are certifications that hazardous materials are in the container and that the relevant requirements have been met.
There are additional requirements for each mode of transport (e.g., ground, air, rail, and water), with regulations on air shipments generally being the strictest.
The Federal government relies on state and local governments to regulate (non-hazardous) solid waste management, including recycling. CRC's Other Regulated Waste page has more information on proper handling of municipal solid waste, food waste, etc. Work with your waste hauler or contact the municipality to determine local regulations pertaining to the storage and disposal of solid waste and recyclables. Some cities and states (for example Seattle, Connecticut, and Vermont) have mandatory recycling laws and can fine businesses that throw away certain recyclable materials.
Many states and local jurisdictions have or are developing regulations to reduce the use of plastic carry-out bags in an effort to keep the bags out of landfills, from roadside litter, and out of streams, lakes and oceans. This legislation can include outright bans on plastic bags, require stores to establish at-store recycling programs for plastic bags, or establish a fee for bags at the cash register. Several organizations have lists of these local regulations, including the National Conference of State Legislatures – State Plastic and Paper Bag Legislation, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection page on retail bags, and the Earth Policy Institute spreadsheet of plastic bag regulations.
A number of local jurisdictions ban or limit the use of polystyrene food packaging (usually for expanded polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam) because this material does not break down naturally, it is not economical to recycle, and it can be expensive to clean up from water and land. Some regulations also require takeout food packaging to be compostable or recyclable. The Surfrider Foundation has a list of such ordinances.
EPA Tritium Self-Luminous EXIT Sign Training – Online training on disposal of tritium signs.
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Training – Hazardous materials transportation, including required training.
Alliance of Hazardous Materials Professionals – Non-profit association with training and other educational materials on hazardous materials management.
Institute of Hazardous Materials Management – Certification programs for hazardous materials professionals, including Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), Certified Dangerous Goods Professional (CDGP), and Certified Hazardous Materials Practitioner (CHMP).
Retailers can take a number of steps to be more sustainable in their store operations, such as by installing low-flow water fixtures like toilets and sinks, using Energy Star rated appliances, and using high efficiency lighting like LEDs or CFLs.
Green Building practices for new or existing buildings may have economic, environmental, and social benefits. The green building certification program, Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, better known as LEED, has a LEED for Retail rating system that recognizes the unique nature of retail facilities.