Many businesses produce hazardous waste such as chemicals, oils, and fuels. Common household items like batteries, cleaning products, and pesticides are also hazardous materials. According to statistics, the European Union produced 100.7 million tonnes of hazardous waste in 2016 alone. Failing to dispose of this waste safely and compliantly can cause serious harm to both human health and the environment. This can result in hefty fines, prosecution, and even imprisonment. Hence why it’s so important to establish a waste management system that disposes of hazardous waste efficiently and in line with The Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005.
Fortunately, disposing of hazardous waste is now relatively simple, so there’s no reason for individuals or businesses to pollute. With this in mind, here is a complete guide on how to dispose of hazardous waste.
Understanding hazardous waste
Waste producers cannot dispose of hazardous waste in landfill and waste bins like ordinary waste. It must go through the proper processes to ensure that it cannot cause harm or damage to humans, animals, or the environment.
It is important to be aware that you cannot treat your own hazardous waste unless you are qualified to do so and have the necessary on-site facilities. You must therefore understand the difference between hazardous waste and ordinary waste materials.
Waste is typically considered hazardous if it (or the substances it contains) could be harmful to humans or the environment. This includes – corrosive liquids, flammable items, chemicals, and everyday items like batteries and paint products. You can check whether your waste is classified as hazardous by reading advice on the gov.uk website or contacting the Environment Agency.
Once you establish that your waste is hazardous, you have a legal responsibility to store and dispose of it safely and compliantly. You may need to store hazardous waste at your premises prior to transporting it to a waste facility. Hazardous waste must be stored in compatible containers that are leak-proof and sealed. For instance, steel storage containers are often used to store hazardous materials on waste management sites. You should designate a hazardous waste storage area. It should be close to where you generate the waste. It should be out of the way of other activities. You also have the option to add a secondary container that will capture any spills or leaks from the primary container. Having this extra level of protection ensures that your waste is secure and the risk of harm to humans or the environment is minimal.
You must only dispose of hazardous waste at authorised sites. Specialist waste disposal companies can collect hazardous materials from your home or workplace. They can then transport the hazardous materials to the appropriate facilities for processing. The waste company will typically require the waste classification code. They will also need details of the substance and any risks associated with it.
If you plan on taking hazardous materials to a landfill site for disposal, you must use a site that is authorised to accept your waste. The landfill may not be able to accept certain types of hazardous waste i.e. if it’s corrosive or flammable. For that reason, it’s advisable to contact the landfill site in advance. To check whether they can accept and process the hazardous waste you’re planning on delivering.
Recycling hazardous waste
Fortunately, it is possible to recycle many hazardous materials reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfills. According to experts at berecycled.org, the following hazardous items can be recycled: “Fluorescent light bulbs and tubes, glues and adhesives, cleaning fluids, oil-based paints, garden chemicals, batteries, propane and butane tanks, and automobile fluids.” Many recycling centres accept certain types of hazardous waste, so make sure to contact your local recycling facilities to see what will be accepted.
Disposing of hazardous waste in a manner that is safe and environmentally-friendly can be challenging for individuals and businesses. However, you must keep in mind that non-compliance can cause serious harm to both human health and the environment. Consequently, there are such severe penalties in place for individuals and companies who fail to comply with regulations. Fortunately, following a few simple procedures can make disposing of your hazardous waste relatively quick and simple. Use the above guide to help you dispose of your hazardous waste safely, responsibly, and in line with all current legislation.