What is hazardous waste?
Waste is considered hazardous if it, or the materials or substances it contains, are harmful to humans or the environment. For example, it may be ignitable, corrosive, reactive or toxic. Not all hazardous waste poses an immediate risk to human health – it may be considered hazardous for its impact over time. But even potential human hazards aren’t always obvious, so it’s better to play safe with the collection and treatment of any waste you’re unsure about.
Waste is legally defined and categorised by a set of codes, and there are strict guidelines for the management of hazardous waste. You can check the full range of waste classifications here.
The dangers of hazardous waste
Hazardous waste can endanger human health, threaten wildlife on land, in water and in the air and cause long-term damage to plants and trees. The effects can be instant, perhaps through direct skin contact, but sometimes the process lasts many years. Mercury and lead, for example, persist in nature, accumulating over time to become absorbed into the food chain through plants, animals and, ultimately, humans.
There is a serious danger if hazardous waste is:
- Released in a large volume at once or released frequently at the same location.
- Discharged in any quantity into air, water or land, contaminating the surrounding environment.
- Brought into accidental contact with the skin or respiratory systems of humans or animals.
- Stored or disposed of improperly, leading to spills and leaks that may cause fires or other harm.
As such, the safe, environmentally protective handling of all hazardous waste is essential.
How is hazardous waste transported?
All businesses that produce waste have a duty of care to make sure that it’s handled and transported safely and in compliance with the law. If the waste is hazardous, extra controls apply.
All hazardous waste must be:
- Transported securely by a registered or exempt waste carrier in a vehicle, container or tank appropriate to the waste classification.
- Distributed evenly by weight across the vehicle or container.
- Accompanied by a consignment note (with a few exceptions).
- Taken to a facility that holds an appropriate pollution prevention and control permit, waste management licence or a specific, registered exemption.
- Suitably packaged and labelled, displaying required information on the vehicle or container and enabling people to take the correct precautions.
- Loaded and unloaded from vehicles and containers following proper procedures.
We offer a wide range of containers suitable for hazardous waste and can provide safe and secure waste collection.
How is hazardous waste disposed of?
There’s no universal method. The disposal of hazardous waste is highly regulated for the protection of human, animal and environmental health. Only authorised businesses can handle, manage or dispose of hazardous waste. If the correct processes aren’t followed, substantial and expensive remedial action may be required to reduce contamination and damage.
All types of hazardous waste require specialist, licensed disposal facilities. Some types of hazardous materials can be disposed of at designated secure landfills, but many materials can still be recycled and repurposed if handled professionally – fluorescent lightbulbs, batteries, oil-based paints and propane tanks, for instance. Other types of hazardous waste may be processed using chemical, biological or other types of treatment, through methods such as incineration or neutralisation.
Our specialist disposal facilities at Parkgate Farm in Purton handle the safe disposal of hazardous waste. We’re proud to be one of only a few UK businesses with a landfill facility licensed for this purpose. It is the end destination for much of the hazardous waste we transport and is open to other licensed carriers on application.
What we do with it
Assess and classify your waste appropriately
Additional testing to determine legal acceptability into landfill
Guidance on correct paperwork completion for compliance
Safe and secure collection and disposal to landfill
What responsibilities do businesses have with hazardous waste?
If you’re the owner or director of a business that produces hazardous waste, you’re legally obliged to dispose of your waste correctly and safely. You must assess the risk of any potentially harmful substance and take necessary steps to ensure employees, the public and the environment aren’t exposed to that risk.
To dispose of hazardous waste in line with legislation, you must:
- Separate it – it’s illegal to mix hazardous waste with anything else, even other types of hazardous waste.
- Store it considerately – in a suitable container in a secure location.
- Use a licensed waste carrier to transport it – waste collection and movement can only be carried out by authorised operators.
- Make and keep records – consignment notes and paperwork for transported hazardous waste must be completed and kept for three years.
Breaching the strict regulations in place is a serious matter and can lead to financial sanctions and even prosecution. Full details of businesses’ responsibilities regarding hazardous waste can be found here.
Use a qualified and trusted waste management team
Take the stress out of the management of hazardous waste with our specialist waste collection and treatment service.
Our knowledgeable team provide all the technical guidance you need so that you can be assured your hazardous waste is handled in an environmentally protective way. We can help you classify your waste, understand which containers to use, complete the necessary paperwork and transport your hazardous waste safely so that it’s not harmful to humans or the environment.
We also take care of the disposal of hazardous waste at our dedicated, fully licensed disposal facilities in Wiltshire.
If you have hazardous waste to dispose of, or if you’re unsure whether it’s hazardous or not, don’t take chances.
Get in touch with our Customer Support team on 0808 145 4533 or fill out the form below and let your experienced, local waste management experts take care of it for you.