Though regulations can be complex, the potential legal consequences of breaching them are severe. The most serious breaches face fines running into hundreds of thousands of pounds and criminal charges.
Here are our five simple steps to dealing with your hazardous waste correctly…
1. Identify whether you have hazardous waste and classify it correctly.
You’ll firstly need to decide if your waste is hazardous or non-hazardous. Examples of hazardous waste include batteries, asbestos, chemicals, solvents, non-edible oils, pesticides, and items containing substances which deplete the ozone layer, such as fridges. It also includes waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).
It’s illegal to mix hazardous and non-hazardous waste, so these must be stored separately.
Then, you’ll need to classify your waste.
Each different waste classification has a code that must be used in correspondence and documentation, and each different class of waste must be handled in a specific way, so getting the classification right is vital.
There are different classifications for chemical waste, waste motor oils, and electronic or electric waste, for example, and different rules about how they should be handled.
Taking the construction industry as an example, here are some of the classifications building waste might need.
The simplest way to get through this step is to retain the services of a waste consultant, like our experts at Inspire Waste Management. They keep abreast of all the latest regulations and understand the classification process.
2. Ensure it is stored in accordance with the hazardous waste regulations.
Each hazardous substance must be stored separately. You must not mix them.
Different categories will have different storage rules. For example, asbestos must be stored in sealed containers and certain chemicals must be stored at the right temperature to avoid combustion.
All hazardous waste must be stored so that it doesn’t pose a threat to public health or the environment, even if that threat isn’t immediate. So, chemicals and leachate must not be able to seep into local watercourses.
3. Find an authorised business to transport and process your waste.
Your waste carrier and processer must be registered with the relevant authority. In England, that’s the Environment Agency.
They must be licensed to carry or process hazardous waste, so you should ask them for proof of that license. You have a duty of care as a business to ensure your waste is handled properly, or you could face a substantial fine.
Experienced waste management companies like ours know the right processing centers for your waste and ensure you have all the correct paperwork.
4. Ensure your consignment note is filled in correctly.
When you send your waste for processing, it will need to have a consignment note which shows the origin of the waste, how it is being stored, its categorisation, the carrier moving it, and its destination.
Filling in these consignment notes correctly is vital. If mistakes are made, the processing center may refuse to accept your waste and it may have to be returned.
5. Make sure your records are kept correctly.
If there is a problem regarding your hazardous waste and a subsequent investigation, the authorities will be looking to see how your business handled its duties under the regulations.
You’ll need proof that you stored your waste correctly, selected a reputable, licensed waste carrier, and that the waste was destined for a licensed facility.
Maintaining an audit trail of paperwork is an important way for your business to protect itself from potential legal action.