Why every business should have a ‘hazardous waste management plan’

When it comes to hazardous waste management, having a disposal plan in place is imperative. Hazardous waste is heavily regulated, and thus cannot just be tossed out with your everyday trash.

To know if you’re handling hazardous waste, the first step is to assess its characteristics.

When categorizing hazardous waste, look out for these four characteristics:

  1. Ignitability - something flammable
  2. Corrosivity - something that can rust or decompose
  3. Reactivity - something explosive
  4. Toxicity - something poisonous

Ignitability

There are three types of ignitable forms:

  • Liquids with a flash point–the lowest temperature at which fumes above waste ignite–of 60 degrees Celsius. Examples include alcohol, gasoline, and acetone.
  • Solids that spontaneously combust.
  • Oxidizers and compressed gasses.

Corrosivity

Corrosive substances, such as hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, and sulfuric acid, can spill through containers, causing the leakage of harmful materials. To find out if a substance is corrosive you can check its pH; if this is less than or equal to 2 or greater than or equal to 12.5, or the liquid has the ability to corrode steel, than it is corrosive. Everyday examples of corrosives include battery acid and rust removers.

Reactivity

Given their instability, reactive wastes can be very dangerous. There are a variety of conditions and situations to identify all types of reactive materials, these are the most common:

  • A material that is unstable, and routinely experiences violent change without detonating
  • A material that shows potential for explosive mixture or violent reaction when combined with water
  • Materials that can react producing toxic gasses which are released in the atmosphere when mixed with water

Toxicity

Poisonous materials pose a great threat to our environment, which can have long term effects on human health and the environment. Acute toxicity involves harmful effects in an organism through a single or short-term exposure. Common types of toxic substances are fertilizer, raw sewage, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, asbestos, ground-level ozone, lead (from aircraft fuel, mining, and industrial processes).

What is a hazardous waste management plan

Within an organisation, a ‘hazardous waste management plan’ is needed to inform and provide guidance to its employees about best practices and laws that regulate the disposal of dangerous waste. The plan also defines roles and responsibilities and provides the framework to act in case of emergency so that any risks of contamination can be contained.

A ‘hazardous waste management plan’ has to offer comprehensive guidelines on how to handle waste from when the waste is created, while it is transported, treated, and stored, and until it is disposed of. These are the phases that the plan should include:

  • Hazardous waste generation
  • Hazardous waste accumulation
  • Hazardous waste transportation
  • Hazardous waste treatment (recycling, treatment, disposal)

For the plan to be effective, each process or department that produces hazardous waste must have at least one person attend hazardous waste plan training conducted by a hazardous waste coordinator.  Attendees will then be responsible for their departments’ compliance with the Hazardous Waste Management Plan. The hazardous waste coordinator will determine when it is necessary to have follow-up training.

Hazardous waste generation

Entities that generates waste are the first link in the hazardous waste management system. All generators must determine if their waste is hazardous and must oversee the ultimate fate of the waste. Furthermore, generators must ensure and fully document that the hazardous waste that they produce is properly identified, managed, and treated prior to recycling or disposal.

Hazardous waste accumulation

Every area that produces hazardous waste must have a satellite accumulation site.  A satellite accumulation area is a safe location that has a sign indicating that it is an area for accumulating hazardous waste.  The area must be used only as a collection place for hazardous materials until they are removed to the main hazardous waste storage area.  It must be at or near the point where the hazardous waste is generated and be easily controlled and easily visually inspected.  This area should have good ventilation and, where possible, secondary containment in case the primary container leaks. 

Once a container is full, it must be moved to the main hazardous waste storage area by a trained hazardous waste coordinator. This main storage area must be inspected regularly and the conditions need to be reported on a form kept in the hazardous waste storage area.

Hazardous waste transportation

It is always a good idea to call a professional hazardous waste disposal service to take care of your unwanted hazardous waste. They can provide tips and guidelines on how to handle your waste properly and how to store it to minimise risks when the waste has to be moved and disposed of.

When involving a professional like All Waste Matters, the first step is always to identify exactly what waste stream we’re dealing with. If in doubt our specialists can guide you through this with the use of COSHH safety data sheets and by verifying what the material was used for. This is important as the ever-tightening legislation brought in to govern hazardous waste disposal means we have to be sure the waste is handled safely and correctly. Although usually not necessary we can arrange for samples to be taken and analysed to help further – fortunately our vast experience in hazardous waste disposal means there aren’t many waste streams we’ve not dealt with before.

Before the collection we can organise any particular requirements for you such as replacement storage containers – for regular collections we can discuss calling in at suitable intervals to save you the bother of having to book in collections in the future. Following the collection our driver will leave you with all the relevant paperwork for your records which you should retain as proof of proper hazardous waste disposal.

Hazardous waste treatment

Many hazardous wastes can be recycled safely and effectively, while other wastes will be treated and disposed of in landfills or incinerators. Recycling hazardous waste has a variety of benefits including reducing the consumption of raw materials and the volume of waste materials that must be treated and disposed. However, improper storage of those materials might cause spills, leaks, fires, and contamination of soil and drinking water. To encourage hazardous waste recycling while protecting health and the environment always ask for professional help.

More information on hazardous waste legislation and regulation can be found here https://www.gov.uk/dispose-hazardous-waste.

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