Types of Industrial and Commercial Waste
The UK produces on average 200 million tonnes of waste a year of which almost a quarter is deemed as industrial and commercial waste. As you might expect, the type of waste produced can cover a much wider range of substances and components compared to your average household. It includes process waste such as contaminated water and ash from heating processes as well as pulp from manufacturing processes, even sewage sludge created by water treatment plants.
Industrial waste relates mainly on the material produced by factories, mills, energy production and mining on a large scale. Commercial waste concerns the day to day waste produced by shops, businesses and offices on a daily basis. That can include everything from paper to WEEE.
Ever since the industrial revolution, we have lived with the problem of dealing with the waste products created by large scale processes such as steel manufacturing and energy creation. In the past, solid waste was usually put into large slag heaps and liquid waste dissipated into the local rivers and coastal waters.
Solid waste includes materials produced by the mining industry such as stones and tailings that can be produced during the extraction process. In the metallurgical industry such as steel manufacturing waste can be the slag produced during smelting and include end products such as red mud which contains aluminium oxide. The chemical industry can produce many by products that are considered waste and including compounds like pyritic and acidic slag. We also have an oil refining industry in the UK that produces waste such as organic solvents and waste catalysts in large amounts.
Liquid and gaseous waste is also produced by our industries and much has been done in recent years to help reduce the impact of manufacturing processes that produce these gasses. This has included better technology to handle the dangerous gasses produced by our industries and better regulations for dealing with harmful liquid waste which was often simply pumped out to sea in days gone by.
Commercial waste, often also called trade waste, covers a much wider range of materials. It is the waste that is produced during the daily operation of a business and can include everything from paper and food to more hazardous substances such as clinical and electrical waste. All our businesses produce waste of some sort. Restaurants have issues dealing with leftover food, supermarkets have to contend with products that are past their sell by date as well as packaging that needs to be disposed of, and offices have to handle paper and WEEE waste. Building companies have to handle construction waste, including harmful substances such as asbestos, while commercial events such as concerts have to control the rubbish created by thousands of audience members and visitors.
Types of commercial waste include:
- Municipal waste such as paper, glass, food stuffs, and general waste.
- Hazardous waste including materials produced by health clinics, construction and the disposal of components such as fluorescent lighting and some parts of electrical equipment such as fridges and freezers.
Disposing of Industrial and Commercial Waste
All businesses have a duty of care under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to dispose of their waste properly and sustainably. This includes having a clear audit trail of how that waste is stored and where it is subsequently sent. The emphasis is on preventing waste from being created first and then reusing, repurposing or recycling before settling on the final option of disposing by incineration or putting into landfill.
Find out more about industrial and commercial waste management.