Why is it Important to Dispose of Hazardous Waste Properly?
Does your facility handle hazardous materials like cleaning chemicals, fluorescent tubes, or pesticides?
If the answer is yes, you must ensure that these items are disposed of correctly. Failing to follow the relevant waste regulations can have serious consequences, so understanding your responsibilities is a must!
Our biohazard cleaning experts have put this blog together to tell you everything you need to know about hazardous waste management and why it’s essential.
What is hazardous waste?
Simply put, hazardous waste can be described as any waste that is capable of harming human health or the environment. This includes chemicals and flammable substances, along with everyday items like batteries and light bulbs.
Here are some examples of waste that is considered hazardous:
- Medical waste
- Oils such as car oil
- Chemicals e.g. cleaning solutions
- Hazardous waste containers e.g. paint cans
Why is correct waste management important?
Humans produce around 400 million tons of hazardous waste annually – almost 13 tons a second. The average person creates 60 kg of hazardous waste every year.
Hazardous waste poses a serious threat to humans and the environment. Incorrect disposal can lead to dangerous chemicals and toxins entering and contaminating groundwater supplies. This can cause illness and disease and also harm wildlife and ecosystems.
Hazardous waste can harm human health
Hazardous waste has the potential to contaminate our water, soil and air supply, leading to serious consequences for us and everyone on the planet. Exposure to hazardous waste can cause a wide variety of health issues, ranging from minor skin irritation to deadly diseases.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that hazardous substances can cause severe health effects, including:
- Behavioural abnormalities
- Physical deformations
- Genetic mutations
- Birth defects
Hazardous waste must be disposed of correctly to protect workers and the general public against these serious health risks.
Hazardous waste can harm the environment
Hazardous waste can have a devastating impact on the environment, especially if it enters groundwater sources. Toxins may kill animals and organisms in rivers, destroy entire species of plants, or cause serious reproductive issues in contaminated areas.
Our planet has limited resources and they must be protected and preserved for future generations.
How is hazardous waste disposed of?
Hazardous waste is often associated with construction and manufacturing businesses, but many companies produce hazardous waste. The good news is that disposing of hazardous waste is now fairly straightforward, so there’s no reason for companies to pollute.
Every business in the UK that produces or stores hazardous waste, or has it collected from their facility, must follow these five steps:
- Step 1: Classify your waste to check if it’s hazardous.
- Step 2: Separate hazardous waste items and store them correctly – more on this below.
- Step 3: Instruct an authorised company to collect and dispose of your hazardous waste.
- Step 4: Complete a consignment note – keep one copy and give 2 copies to the company collecting your waste. You can find out more about this here.
- Step 5: Keep records for three years at the facility that produced or stored the hazardous waste.
How can a waste management company remove hazardous waste for you?
If your company produces hazardous waste, you will need to instruct an authorised waste removal company to collect and dispose of your waste. They will be responsible for your hazardous waste once it leaves your facility and will ensure that it is disposed of safely and in line with the relevant waste regulations.
Make sure you partner with a company that is registered and has the relevant environmental permits. It is vital that the waste courier you choose has received the correct training and understands the risks associated with moving this kind of waste.
What happens if I don’t follow the waste regulations?
There are severe penalties in place for individuals and companies that fail to comply with the relevant waste regulations. If you dispose of hazardous waste incorrectly, you could face large fines and prosecution.
In the UK, fines for the illegal disposal of hazardous waste has seen businesses fined over £1,000,000 and the directors responsible imprisoned.
Irresponsible waste management may also damage your company’s reputation, which in turn, will impact your profits and bottom line.
Hazardous waste should be safely and securely stored.
How should hazardous waste be stored?
Once you have classified waste as hazardous, you have a legal responsibility to ensure that it is stored safely until it’s collected by an authorised waste courier.
You should follow these steps to ensure that your waste is stored securely to minimise the risk of harm to humans or the environment:
- Store hazardous waste securely in suitable containers that are sealed and leak-proof.
- Place labels on hazardous waste containers clearly stating what they contain.
- Store hazardous waste containers in a secure, designated location.
Don’t forget that it is illegal to mix hazardous waste with either another hazardous waste or non-hazardous waste. Click here to learn more about hazardous waste segregation.
Looking for ‘hazardous waste removal near me?’ Ultima can help!
At Ultima, we’re proud to be one of the UK’s leading hazardous waste removal companies. Our experienced team has decades of experience offering specialist cleaning services in London and throughout the UK.
We offer multiple hazardous waste disposal services to suit a wide range of hazardous materials. This includes asbestos removal, paint waste disposal, and sharps disposal.
Our fully-trained experts are on hand to ensure that your hazardous waste disposal is efficient and legally compliant.
Call the hazardous waste experts
If your business requires professional hazardous waste removal services, get in touch with our friendly team today. Reach out if you have any questions, we’re always happy to help!
You can also find lots of useful information on hazardous waste cleaning and other specialist decontamination services on our website.