The importance of disposing of hazardous waste correctly

Some businesses may be completely unaware of this but disposing of hazardous waste in a safe and environmentally-friendly fashion is very important. Not only is it essential to ensure that you’re complying with the law, it also reduces your carbon footprint and can help you to make financial savings.

What is classed as hazardous?

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Your company could be using hazardous materials daily and you may be completely unaware of it. It’s a good idea to ensure that you’re up-to-date with the latest regulations as stated in the European Waste Catalogue to avoid this happening.

Examples of hazardous waste include:

  • Acids and alkaline solutions
  • Asbestos
  • Batteries
  • Cathode ray tubes and fluorescent tubes
  • Chemicals such as brake fluid or print toner
  • Fridges and any other equipment containing ozone depleting substances
  • Hazardous waste containers
  • Industrial solvents
  • Pesticides
  • Pharmaceutical compounds
  • Photographic chemicals
  • Waste oils

If you’re unsure about whether you’re dealing with something that’s hazardous, you can read about how to classify different types of waste.

Why is it important to dispose of hazardous waste correctly?

If hazardous waste ends up mixed with regular rubbish, down the sink, toilet, gutters or buried in the ground, it can have several harmful implications.

The environment

The latest figures from the Environment Agency show that in 2011 alone, approximately 4.3 million tonnes of hazardous waste were moved. 27% of this was landfilled, 9% was incinerated, 27% was treated and 36% was recovered, recycled or reused. Naturally, the more that can be recycled, the better it is for the environment but it’s only possible to do this if it’s disposed of properly.

Additionally, dangerous chemicals and poisons can leach into surfaces and groundwater. This can have a long-term effect on soil, plants and water.

People

Hazardous waste isn’t just bad for the environment; it can be incredibly dangerous for humans and animals to come into contact with it as well. Hazardous waste can cause several ailments including burns, poisoning and in extreme cases, even death.

If it’s put amongst regular rubbish, it can also put the health and safety of rubbish collection workers at risk. It can also pollute waterways and drinking water if it’s sent to normal landfills.

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It’s a legal requirement

It’s only natural that some businesses, such as the manufacturing industry for example are going to create vast amounts of waste material. If parts of that waste contain hazardous substances however, companies have a legal obligation to dispose of it correctly.

 

How do I dispose of hazardous waste?

Industries that are most likely to produce hazardous waste include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Chemical manufacturers
  • Electroplating companies
  • Petroleum refineries
  • Nuclear power plants
  • Construction sites

You need to enlist the help of a company that specialises in hazardous waste disposal. Please note however that you will need to pre-register before any waste can be removed from your site because it’s now an offense for hazardous waste to be removed from a site that hasn’t been registered.

Using external waste collection services gives you the peace of mind that your materials will be disposed of properly while also being protected throughout the transit process.