Types of Waste
We produce billions of tonnes of waste every year and while some of it may be biodegradable, much of it isn’t. Products like plastic bags and packaging as well as toxic components that go to make up our household appliances present a problem in how we dispose of them effectively.
Waste management might be about making the most of our limited resources and reusing what we have, but it is also about not clogging up the planet we live on. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the 5.25 trillion bits of plastic that are currently floating in our oceans. It is a testament to the amount of waste we produce and should give us all pause for thought.
There are many different kinds of waste, all of which need to be handled in a specific way. Waste management techniques vary depending on these requirements and the particular difficulty of disposing of particular substances. Some can be reused, others recycled, a few have to be incinerated or disposed of securely because they are a hazard to human life.
Builders and other businesses produce waste when they construct things, tear up old flooring or knock down walls. Most of this is removed to a skip and then transported to a specialist waste management team who then sort through the debris and either reuse, recycle or dispose of it on landfill.
Find out more about trade waste.
Our hospitals and other medical facilities produce a considerable amount of clinical waste. This can be anything from body parts and bandages to needles and other disposable equipment. All this needs to be made safe, either by burning in an incineration or by taking to a specialist recycling station that deals with clinical waste.
Find out more about clinical waste management.
There are plenty of waste products which need to be disposed of and which are hazardous to the public. These can include materials that are poisonous such as mercury or radioactive such as some medical appliances. Hazardous waste usually has some property of corrosiveness, ignitability, reactivity or toxicity which means it has to be handled very carefully by specialist teams.
Find out more about hazardous waste.
One of the major problems of the last 30 to 40 years has been the problem of asbestos waste in buildings across the UK. This needs to have specialist companies to come and remove it if found and disposal requires adherence to strict UK and EU regulations.
Find out more about asbestos waste.
The rise of companies in the last ten to fifteen years that deal with the disposal of confidential waste has been remarkable. Whether its paper records or digital ones, safely disposing of corporate content so that confidentiality is maintained is a key part of organisational security. That includes office documents but also other waste such as old hard drives and smartphones.
Find out more about confidential waste.
Electronic waste has become ever more important as we develop our technological diversity. It’s not just about reusing components but having to deal with toxic substances such as cadmium and lead that are in some older machines. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive is imperative in this and has helped to spawn a whole industry of waste management experts who deal just in this area.
Find out more about WEEE Waste.
Industrial and Commercial Waste
Our manufacturing bases and businesses across the UK all produce a tremendous amount of waste. Thanks to better operating procedures many use sustainable business practices to make sure they cut down on their waste but there is still plenty that needs to be either recycled or responsibly disposed of.
Find out more about industrial and commercial waste.
Bio-waste can be anything from food scraps and plant waste to sawdust and animal by-products such as dung. Finding ways to recycle these or use them to create energy, as in biomass, is one of the major challenges of waste management. Anything that is biodegradable essentially comes into this category.
Find out more about bio-waste management.
Construction and Demolition Waste
Whether you are building a new office block or demolishing an old coal fire power station, the amount of waste produced is sizeable. This all needs to be collected and either repurposed or recycled and can include anything from steel girders and bricks to hazardous waste such as old insulation and asbestos and lead infrastructure.
Find out more about construction and demolition waste.
The number of different industries that have evolved out of the range of waste we produce in our lives on a daily basis is remarkable. Each has its own rules and regulations for the way it operates and each has to face the challenge of how to operate more sustainably in a world of finite resources.