Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hazardous Waste - Managing Hazardous Waste In The Workplace

The phrase "hazardous waste" is often misunderstood. Many people would assume that hazardous waste relates to chemical waste and toxic waste. This of course is true, but what many businesses do not realise is that many day to day items such as aerosols, paints, computer monitors, fluorescent tubes, fridges and certain cleaning products, are also classed as hazardous waste. At some point the majority of businesses will therefore produce some form of hazardous waste, which will need to be disposed of in the correct manner.

Following the introduction of the Hazardous Waste Regulations in July 2005, the number of items classed as hazardous has significantly increased. Since this date, producers of hazardous waste have also been required to register as a hazardous waste producer with the Environment Agency. The aim of the new regulations was not only to reduce the amount of hazardous waste produced and disposed of, but also to produce a "cradle to grave" monitoring system for the hazardous waste that was produced.
Some shops and offices may be exempt from having to register as a hazardous waste producer if they produce less than 200kg of hazardous waste within a 12 month period. However, due to the wide classification of hazardous waste that is now in place, a large percentage of businesses, especially industrial businesses, will have to register.

When should a business register as a hazardous waste producer?
The correct answer to this is as soon as hazardous waste is produced. However, in practice most businesses will not register until they require their first collection of hazardous waste since the new regulations were implemented. The main reason for this is because many businesses will not realise that they need to register until they have contacted a hazardous waste disposal company to collect their waste.

If a business has more than one premises, each premises that produces hazardous waste will need to be registered as a hazardous waste producer. The registration process can either be done by the company itself, or can be done by a hazardous waste disposal company on their behalf.
If your business produces hazardous waste you must keep the waste separate from your non-hazardous waste and make sure it is correctly labelled. Even when the waste is collected by a registered waste carrier, ensuring the consignment note is completed correctly remains the responsibility of the waste producer.

If you are unsure whether the waste your business produces is hazardous, seek advice from the Environment Agency. Alternatively, contact a specialist hazardous waste disposal company who will be able to use their knowledge and experience to help identify the waste and provide expert advice as to the correct storage and disposal methods for the waste.
Depending on the amount of hazardous waste that you produce, most specialist waste management companies will also be able to carry out a waste audit of your site to access the best way to deal with each of the different waste streams that your business produces.
Utopia Waste Management is an independent waste management company based in the UK which provides a full range of waste management and recycling services. We specialise in providing cost effective and environmentally friendly solutions for the specific waste management requirements of individual businesses. Our range of services include hazardous waste disposal, fluorescent tube recycling, asbestos disposal, confidential waste destruction and the recycling of electrical items under the WEEE Directive. For further information please visit our website at

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