Hazardous waste, including toxic and corrosive waste, are common in many business environments.
Even if you don’t think your business produces hazardous waste, you could be wrong.
When we think of hazardous waste, we often think of those such as oil refineries and hospitals. Yet offices and other everyday businesses also have the potential to produce hazardous waste.
There are plenty of examples of household hazardous waste, meaning everyday items we often dismiss as “safe” could be classed as dangerous by the government and other waste bodies.
As a company, you are liable for the waste you produce and could be fined if you don’t follow hazardous waste regulations.
Hazardous waste requires strict and careful management. This means its disposal is often more complex than other waste streams, requiring professional waste management companies to guide businesses through any red tape.
These professionals are well-versed in how to handle hazardous waste safely, and to follow the waste hierarchy. They are able to provide health information on hazardous waste, the effect of hazardous waste on the environment, recycling procedures, and most importantly, how to keep companies compliant.
To check if your business could benefit from outsourcing waste services, scan this list of hazardous waste examples.
1. Solvents and Solvent-Based Paints
Exposure to solvents through skin contact or inhaling vapour can impact human health.
They are also flammable and pose fire risk if not handled, stored and disposed of correctly.
Liquid solvents that come into contact with skin can cause irritation or dermatitis, while consistent exposure to solvents can impair workers and in some cases, can cause cancers.
As a business, you should provide ventilation and personal protective equipment (PPE) if the risk to workers is high. You should also dispose of solvents separately, this applies even if you don’t work with solvents regularly, and don’t need to put in place any of the above measures.
2. Cleaning, Photo and Laboratory Chemicals
Chemicals found in cleaning and laboratory products, as well as in photo development, are pretty self-explanatory. However, businesses can sometimes underestimate the risks of such products due to their similarity with household items. It is important to remember that some wastes generated in a commercial setting might be classed as hazardous under the regulations, but the same material produced in a household is not classed as hazardous even though their properties are the same. This is where professional advice from waste experts is really needed.
Large quantities of chemicals can pose physical, environmental risks as well as risks to health. Therefore, the disposal of these chemicals is paramount, as is the storage and handling of them.
3. Fluorescent Tubes
Fluorescent tubes are used in a variety of businesses. Their ability to give off a less harsh, glowing light makes them a popular choice for offices. They’re also used in retail outlets to facilitate lightboxes and in cafeterias.
What makes fluorescent tubes hazardous is the presence of mercury.
Mercury is a highly toxic chemical that can contaminate water supplies and wildlife, and is toxic to humans. In other words, it’s not great for the environment.
While you might be unsure what to do with this obscure item, the answer is not to leave them in general waste. If the item smashes, it can produce significant damage and contamination to other types of trash.
4. Waste Electronics (WEEE)
An increasing number of businesses are upgrading and disposing of old technology.
Whether you’re managing an office, manufacturing unit, healthcare, or educational facility, you’ll likely need to be aware of how to handle WEEE Waste (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment).
Electronics can be hazardous due to components or substances such as: polychlorinated biphenyls (e.g. in capacitors), ozone-depleting substances (CFCs) e.g. in fridges and freezers, Mercury in fluorescent tubes or cathode ray tubes, e.g. in some televisions and older computer monitors. Materials in electronics like lead and chromium can give off toxic fumes and contribute to air pollution.
5. Clinical Waste
Deciding which materials are hazardous and which aren’t can get complicated.
There are many different types of waste that come from businesses and industries such as: sharps, infectious waste, cytotoxic/cytostatic medicines, and many more. Ensuring that these types are managed and disposed of correctly is mandatory to ensure the safety of others, and for the environment.
Do you produce any of these hazardous waste examples? It’s time to request your free waste audit to receive expert advice on hazardous waste management.
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