In 2016, strict regulations came into force which ensured hazardous waste was properly categorised and dealt with in the correct manner.
The responsibilities for each producer, carrier, and consignee (the end receiver) of the disposal of hazardous waste were made clear.
There also has to be a detailed note of how the waste was produced, a chemical and physical analysis of it, and it should be classified according to the European List of Waste.
Hazardous and non-hazardous waste should not be mixed. Discover more guidance about hazardous waste classification here.
The most commonly-produced hazardous materials include:
- Propane – often used as a fuel
- Sulfuric acid – often used in the production of fertilisers, cleaning agents, and in oil manufacturing
- Asbestos – often discovered during demolitions and renovations of old buildings
- Carbon dioxide – often used to chill or freeze food
- Solvents – used in the production process in several industries
- Argon – often used to produce lightbulbs
- Non-edible oils – such as car oil
- Pesticides – often used in farming
- Chlorine – often used in water purification, swimming pools, and bleaches
- LPG – often used in refrigeration and as a fuel
- Electronic waste and batteries – containing heavy metals, battery acid, and other hazards
More than 5 million tonnes of hazardous waste is produced every year in the UK and in recent years, that figure has been growing by around 8% per annum.
This waste is a hazard to human health and to our environment, which is why hazardous waste regulations are stringent and compliance with them is so important.
So, what are the risks if you don’t follow hazardous waste regulations?
The risks depend on the type of waste.
People could find themselves with severe injuries such as burns or frostbite or asphyxiation from carbon dioxide, for example.
Sulphuric acid can cause severe burns and severe lung damage if it is inhaled, asbestos can cause cancers such as mesothelioma, argon can cause tissue damage, and incorrectly-stored LPG could cause a major explosion.
There is a risk that hazardous waste could pollute the water table and have a hugely detrimental effect on the environment – from plants and trees to wildlife.
The aim of the categorisation process has been to ensure waste is handled and processed correctly to reduce that risk to people and the planet.
Any business which fails to comply with the hazardous waste rules could find itself being taken to court, facing the prospect of hefty fines and clear-up costs.
Any injury to a staff member or member of the public could also result in a substantial claim for damages.
Alongside the financial damage, the reputational damage to a business can also be huge.
How do I choose the right waste management company that complies with hazardous waste regulations for my business?
Look for a company with consultants with a track record in dealing with hazardous waste, such as Inspire Waste Management. They will understand the complex hazardous waste regulations associated with it and help you ensure your waste is correctly categorised.