Hazardous waste is waste that may cause harm to human health or the environment. Characteristics of hazardous waste include: catching fire under certain circumstances, corroding metals, producing toxic fumes, gases or vapours, exploding or causing harm or death when digested or absorbed. While all households produce small amounts of hazardous waste, work involving chemicals, construction or oil produce far larger amounts. Businesses have a legal duty to ensure the waste is handled and disposed of safely, and so having a hazardous waste management plan is vital. There are a number of key elements to address in your hazardous waste management plan.
Before you begin producing hazardous waste you must register your business with the government. (If you produce less than 500 kg a year you are exempt.) Each premises of your business producing or storing the waste must be registered separately. This needs to be renewed on a yearly basis to meet the legal requirements.
- Classification & Separation
For safety and legal reasons, you must keep your hazardous waste separate from other waste, in a secure place. Use waterproof containers that stop waste escaping to prevent contamination of your workplace, local water supplies, etc.. You must also describe or classify it before disposal. This involves including the waste classification code (also referred to as the List of Waste or European Waste Catalogue), the name of the substance(s), a chemical and physical analysis, any special problems or requirements pertaining to the waste, the process that created the waste and the type of premises/business where the waste was produced.
While waiting for your hazardous waste to be collected, you can keep it at the site in which it was created for up to 12 months without a permit or license. At a maximum you can store 23,000 litres of liquid waste or 80 cubic metres of any other type of waste kept in a secure unit specifically designed for hazardous or clinical waste, or 50 cubic metres kept in a secure place. If you need to store more than this, or keep it for longer, you will need to get a waste management licence or a pollution prevention and control permit. To keep your premises safe from incidents, choose durable, fire-proof chemical storage solutions.
Another key step of your hazardous waste management plan is organising transportation. To carry hazardous waste in England you must register as a waste carrier. If you do not wish to transport it yourself, ensure the business you choose is licensed. Before they can travel with this, the waste will need to be separated and classified. When each load is picked up, you must receive a copy of a consignment note. You are required to keep these records for three years after. These must be kept at the registered workplace that produced and stored the waste or if this premises is exempt, at your head office.
- Disposal Facility
Hazardous waste can only be disposed of in a facility with an environmental permit allowing it to accept that particular kind of hazardous waste. The Environment Agency sets conditions for such facilities such as the types and amount of waste accepted, how the waste is treated and stored and keeping the waste away from sensitive receptors. Therefore, when drafting a hazardous waste management plan, ensure you have a licensed facility nearby at which to dispose the unwanted material. These licensed facilities will give you a consignee return after they receive your waste. These consignee returns are reports on any hazardous waste the disposal facility received, treated or disposed of. Again, you must keep a record of these for three years, following the above guidelines.
We hope this information helps you to devise a safer, more effective hazardous waste management plan. For more on managing chemical waste or chemical safety, read our previous posts.