If you’re a business that is handling any type of hazardous waste, it’s vital that you have an effective waste management plan in place to tackle any problems that could occur and cause unpleasant damage to your company – something that all employers should be trying to avoid, especially when such waste can be harmful to the health of your employees and the environment in general.

However, it’s often a big misconception that hazardous waste comes only as a gas – but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Hazardous waste can be present in many different forms, ranging from solids, liquids and sludges and this can often lead to groundwater and surface contamination. The British government have strict direction on how businesses should be handling this issue.

To gain a greater insight on how to deal with hazardous waste in business, we’ve teamed up with your waste experts, Reconomy, who are unbeatable on skip hire costs to find out more.

Knowing your waste

The government have said that if you’re producing or carrying hazardous waste as a business, you have a duty of care that must be taken seriously and are ultimately responsible for identifying all waste that you come into contact with.

When it comes to knowing your waste, there are two points in how one can identify its type: is it harmful to humans? And is it damaging to the environment? These are two of the main factors that you need to think about – but here is a list of some of the most common types of hazardous waste:

  • Asbestos
  • Chemicals such as brake fluid and printer toner
  • Batteries
  • Solvents
  • Pesticides
  • Oils such as car oil
  • Equipment that contains ozone depleting substances such as fridges.

As a business handling waste, if you identify any of the above, you need to store each type separately to other waste you produce within the business in order to make your premises a safe working environment for all.

Storing waste safely

Although storing your waste away can seem like an easy solution, reducing the amount of hazardous waste you produce as a business is even easier. But once the storing process begins, hazardous waste can be put under four different sub-categories, however these are not exclusive:

  • Construction
  • Demolition
  • Industry
  • Agriculture

Hazardous waste should be stored in a secure area once the amount of waste your business is producing has been reduced. It’s important to make sure that none of your hazardous waste escapes the containers that they have been placed in – this should be at the forefront of your mind when storing. After waste has been place its appropriate containers, it’s important to then label it accordingly so that all people who are operating near it are aware of what it is. Remember to place waterproof covers over containers to prevent any hazardous liquids running onto the floor causing a greater danger to people working in the surrounding area.

It’s vital that all types of hazardous waste is stored away in different compartments. If the waste your business is producing is a liquid, you will require a bund or a barrier that can be put in place to reduce the risk of any spills or leakages. If your waste is being kept on the grounds of your business, make sure that your employees are routinely checking storage areas for any damaged containers as well as the surrounding area to make sure that they are all operating in a safe place.

Often forgotten but equally important to the previous points, employers need to keep a record of all of the hazardous waste that is kept on the premises and the location of its whereabouts. This is beneficial if an incident does occur, emergency services will be able to deal with the situations instantly without having to ask any unnecessary questions that could prevent them from dealing with the scenario sooner.

The collection of hazardous waste

A consignment note will need to be completed once hazardous waste has been collected and taken away from your premises. This is a really important part of hazardous waste collection as business owners need to be able to account for waste that enters and leaves their business.

Consignment notes are required for hazardous waste for the following:

  • Collections from businesses that are registered waste carriers.
  • Movements from one premises to another within the same organisation.
  • When another business has produced waste, movements from customer premises.

A consignment note is not needed in the following scenarios:

  • The movement of domestic hazardous waste – other than asbestos.
  • Waste has been imported and exported under international waste shipment controls that require a different movement note.

Details of your hazardous waste

For waste to be removed from your premises, you need to provide details of the waste that you want to be disposed of in your consignment note – this means that the hazardous waste handlers will be able to remove it more efficiently.

Description

You need to make note of all types of waste you want to be removed.

Amount

When it comes to describing the amount of waste that you want to be removed, it is important that you give the weight in kilos – when it comes to hazardous liquids, you need to convert this into the appropriate volumes in order to give accurate measurements.

Chemicals

Identifying the chemical and biological parts of your waste is essential – this includes both hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

Physicality

What is your hazardous waste most like? You need to enter a form describing whether it is a gas, solid, liquid, powder, sludge or even mixed.

However, consignment notes are not free to submit and once you have completed it, it will need to be paid for. The charge in England and Wales is £10 per collection. If there are multiple collections, the price is reduced to £5 for each consignment note. This charge varies across Northern Ireland and Scotland, but depending on applicability the fee is around £15.