Are batteries hazardous waste? This everyday business and household item is often a cause for concern. Can batteries be disposed of with the rest of the trash? Or do they require special treatment?
Importantly, if batteries are deemed hazardous, their status will need to be highlighted before a waste collection. Hazardous and non-hazardous waste can’t mix during disposal. Mixing hazardous waste in with non-hazardous waste is prohibited by the Hazardous Waste Regulations.
Read on to find out whether recycling batteries is tougher than you think.
Why Batteries ARE Hazardous Waste
As a general rule of thumb, batteries are classed as hazardous waste. Why? They contain substances such as sulphuric acid, mercury, nickel, cadmium, or lead, as well as other dangerous materials that can give batteries a variety of hazardous properties. These hazardous substances can also lead to a fire or explosion risk. The biggest risk for batteries these days comes from lithium batteries that are in laptops, phones, and batteries for tools. These have been involved in numerous fires. The HSE and WISH are both developing guidance for domestic and commercial users on how to handle and dispose of these waste streams.
Technically, not all batteries are strictly deemed hazardous. To discover the few that don’t meet the cut, you’ll need to refer to the relevant piece of legislation; The Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005.
Despite this, it’s safe to say most batteries are classed as hazardous and should receive the same caution as other dangerous materials including acids, electronic devices, and lead.
Even the UK’s government website lists batteries as an example of hazardous waste on their hazardous waste guidance page. If you’re unsure whether a specific battery is hazardous, it’s advisable to assume that it is and separate it from any other general trash, just for good measure.
How to Responsibly Dispose of Batteries
If you’re not familiar with hazardous waste processes, it’s important to know there are certain regulations and criteria to meet. These regulations are largely outlined in the aforementioned legislation, and in the ‘Batteries and waste batteries guidance‘, yet it’s often helpful to get expert advice if you’re unclear on anything. For batteries, specifically, there are a couple of best practices to follow:
● Categorise Waste Batteries. Since many batteries are hazardous, you should separate them from non-hazardous rubbish .other waste. However, different categories of batteries should also be segregated from one and other as they may contain different chemicals and properties. For example, rechargeable batteries contain nickel, cadmium, and lead — to give them rechargeable properties. The make-chemistry of these materials is different from that in other types of batteries explaining why each variety must be kept separate — just in case two elements materials react to cause contamination, fire, or an explosion.
● Recycle Them. The best way to get rid of used batteries is to recycle them. You can drop off small quantities of batteries at your local supermarket where they’ll have a battery collection point. However, commercial quantities and specialist batteries used outside of the household should be sent directly to recycling facilities. If you opt to get a waste management company to take care of this waste stream, the recycling will automatically be done by them. In turn, this will improve your commercial carbon footprint.
● Delegate Disposal. In line with your “duty of care” as the waste producer, you’ll need to ensure you employ a waste carrier who has environmental permits for drop-off sites holds an appropriate licence issued by the Environment Agency (EA). You are also required to confirm that the company and site to which your batteries are being taken have a permit, again issued by the EA, to The firm or individual must be registered with the Environment Agency to indicate they are permitted to handle controlled waste including your type of battery. As well as transporting your waste, the carrier should also provide you with the documentation needed for you to log the battery disposal. These documents include an invoice, a consignment note to fill out., and a rejection note if there are any issues with waste batteries when they arrive at the final destination.
● Fill out Relevant Paperwork. Since the waste belongs to you, you must also fill out the consignment note given by the carrier. On this document, you’ll have to stipulate that the waste is hazardous, highlighting the relevant code for the items contained. Lastly, you’ll need to provide a signature for the battery load that will be checked at each delivery point.
How to Make Hazardous Waste Hassle-Free
You’ll know by now that dealing with hazardous waste can be complex. The process has many requirements to follow with strict penalties if firms fail to follow procedures correctly. You can’t afford to ignore hazardous waste regulations — however, you can make them more manageable.
Hiring a total waste management company will save you time and money when it comes to remaining compliant. Total waste management is the equivalent of outsourcing the majority of waste practices to experts well-versed in government legislation on the topic. In the short-term, you’ll benefit from the extra helping hand in safe waste disposal. In the long term, total waste management services — including the removal of hazardous waste — could save your business a significant amount of money as well as help to improve your commercial carbon footprint.
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