Legislation and Hazardous Waste
As you might expect, there is a large amount of legislation relating to hazardous waste management and how it should be dealt with by both producers and holders and those transporting and disposing of it. Much will depend on the type of waste being handled.
The important pieces of legislation relating to the handling of hazardous waste are:
- Environmental Protection Act 1990
- Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005
- Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011
- Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012
Hazardous Waste and Businesses
First of all, as an individual or business who produces waste, you have a duty of care which means you must:
- Find out if you produce hazardous waste.
- Register the premises where this waste is produced if it is over 500 Kg a year.
- Separate and store that waste separately in an appropriate container.
- Make sure that the waste is managed in the correct way.
- Fill in the correct paperwork and keep an audit trail.
Some products will have a hazard symbol on them if they contain some sort of waste or component that needs to be handled carefully. Others don’t. If you are not sure then you have a duty to contact a hazardous waste disposal service to find out what the procedure should be.
Find out about different types of hazardous waste here.
If you produce more than 500 Kg of hazardous waste in any one year, then you must register with the Environmental Health Agency. All hazardous waste needs to be stored separately from other types of waste and failure to do so can lead to criminal prosecution and fines. Your duty of care includes making sure that the waste is secure and cannot escape including being protected from the weather. You need to have the right labelling also, which states what the waste is and what the hazard is.
When choosing a company to handle this kind of waste then you must ensure that the carrier has the appropriate license, ensure that the waste is packaged properly for transport and that it is going to an authorised waste site.
Hazardous Waste and Households
Unfortunately, many of the products and appliances we use in the home are also classified in some part as hazardous waste. That can include nickel-cadmium batteries, aerosols, fluorescent tubes, and even electronic equipment such as TVs and computers. Residents in domestic properties, however, are not constrained by legislation under the Hazardous Waste Regulations.
You do not need to register the domestic premises or complete any paperwork for the handling of hazardous waste.
That does not mean you should not take every precaution to reduce the amount of hazardous waste you produce and to dispose of what you do create responsibly. This means contacting your local council to see which household items they do repurpose, recycle and dispose of properly. That will probably include items like batteries, aerosols, TVs and other electrical equipment as well as old fridges and your half used paint pots.
Any contractors carrying out work on your premises have a duty of care to dispose of their waste in a responsible manner and are tied to the Hazardous Waste Regulation. That means if someone is carrying out building work then they need to hire a skip from a licensed company.
Hazardous Waste and Industry
Larger industrial complexes of course produce a much greater amount of toxic substances and other hazardous waste and are legally bound to dispose of it both ethically and safely. With better technology dangerous gas emissions have been reduced and industries are now more focused on disposing of their waste safely.
Find out more about hazardous waste management here.