How to Properly Dispose of Hazardous Waste
Be Responsible About Your Hazardous Waste
Many people have to deal with hazardous waste, from industrial businesses to homeowners renovating their house. There are laws governing the disposal of hazardous waste to ensure both the protection of our local environment and ourselves.
Regardless if you’re looking to dispose of domestic waste or commercial and industrial byproducts, to ensure you don’t fall foul of the law (or cause personal injury), processing hazardous waste needs to be done properly.
What Are the Common Types of Hazardous Waste?
For the common household user, the standard types of hazardous waste that you might encounter will include:
- Unused paints and treatments such as creosote
- Pesticides and herbicides
- White goods containing ozone depleting substances (fridges, etc).
On an industrial level (or sometimes home-based), there are often other chemicals or products that can can be tricky to dispose of.
- Oils (both synthetic and plant based)
- Solvents and acids
- Sludges containing heavy metals
- Farm waste such as plant or animal material
Even products such as printer cartridges, light bulbs, old electronic devices such as televisions or computers, or even aerosol cans can be seen as hazardous waste.
Hazardous waste disposal needs to be carried out in accordance with your local government regulations. Most industrial and commercial premises will have a contractor who can deal with hazardous waste disposal. But what about if you’re a homeowner or small business who needs to get rid of regular or occasional hazardous waste?
The Do-Nots of Hazardous Waste Disposal
If you have hazardous waste to get rid of then there are several absolute no-no’s.
Fly Tipping or Dumping
Simply dumping your waste in the great outdoors is not just irresponsible, it’s also illegal. Hazardous waste can cause massive problems including pollution to water supply or soil.
Fines and prison sentences vary from area to area but normally run into the thousands of dollars if you’re caught. For particularly serious waste or if you’re a persistent offender, a prison sentence isn’t unlikely.
In a similar way to fly tipping, burying waste also pollutes the earth and actually doesn’t get rid of the problem. A lot of hazardous waste doesn’t degrade easily and can seep into the water supply or cause environmental damage over a longer period of time.
Plus if buried waste is dug up accidentally in the future, it can cause health issues for whoever digs it up.
Putting It in the Regular Trash
Not all trash is created equal. In fact, putting hazardous waste in household trash cans can cause a whole range of problems. Trash isn’t always sorted and is often sent to a landfill, so getting rid of chemicals or other hazardous waste in this way is as bad as fly tipping…
Putting It in Storage
Stashing your waste somewhere like a shed or waste ground area is akin to fly tipping it. Just because it’s on your premises doesn’t mean that storing it will keep hazardous waste out of harm’s way.
In fact, thanks to container degradation, floods or fires or other natural processes, your hazardous waste could cause all sorts of problems the longer you leave it.
If you have waste to dispose of, then make sure you do it in a timely fashion.
The Do’s of Hazardous Waste Disposal
So you know what not to do with it… But how do you actually get rid of it?
If you have small amounts of hazardous household or commercial waste such as an old computer tower or several tins of paint and pesticides then your local recycling center will normally take these.
You can also often find household recycling bins at supermarkets or public areas, sometimes next to glass recycling or clothes recycling bins. These are normally for smaller electronic devices like mobile phones, VCR & DVD players and disposable batteries.
A lot of items seen as hazardous waste can be recycled. Mobile phones for example are easily handed in at mobile phone stores or supermarkets, as are batteries.
You may even see businesses calling for old electronics to be handed in for recycling. These are often stripped down to their component parts and sorted for re-use.
Once you start dealing with regular or large volumes of waste then you will need to get a licensed waste disposal service. These are normally enterprises who are trained and licensed by local government to deal with all types of hazardous waste in a legal and responsible fashion.
Your local government office might provide a list of trusted waste disposal companies or you can do a quick search online for ‘waste disposal companies’ or ‘industrial waste disposal’.
If you run any type of business that has a regular supply of waste liquids then your local council should be able to help you set up a collection. For example, fats from frying food can often be re-used as fuel. Or waste oils from auto companies or factories is often centrally disposed of in a contained area.
However you operate and whatever you do, make sure you dispose of your hazardous waste in a responsible and appropriate manner.