The starting point for any discussion about waste management has to be any legislation that has changed the industry. Perhaps most crucial, is the EU Waste Framework Directive, which came into force in December 2008. EU directives have provided long-term vision and guidance for waste management in the UK, particularly in terms of recycling and environmental risks and hazards.
Indeed, the EU directives require all EU member states to prevent or reduce waste products and encourage the recovery of waste by recycling, reuse or reclamation where possible.
Other legislation that businesses should be aware of are:
But what is waste? Waste is defined as:
A material is considered to be waste when the producer or holder discards it, intends to discard it, or is required to discard it.
Businesses must be contracted to a registered waste carrier to collect their waste; these registered carriers must be registered with the Environment Agency – and it is the responsibility of the business to ensure that those who remove waste, have the authority to do so. Registered waste carriers will issue a Waste Carrier Note, which businesses must keep for two year – it is essential that these are kept, as local councils can legal ask to show these – failure to do so can lead to an unlimited fine.
If your business deals with food, it is essential to know the rules on this, as there are strict rules on animal by-products and other potentially dangerous contaminants.
Other forms of waste maybe hazardous too – if it contains things such as batteries, solvents, chemicals, oils or pesticides – then this may need to be disposed of through special means, due to the environment damage or contamination that it can cause. Check here for more information.
Electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) waste, is another major problem for businesses in the modern world. This is complex due to the many components that they contain, and not only do they do not biodegrade, but they can also contain contaminants – things like printer ink, or cathode ray tubes, for example. Much of can be repurposed, when using specialist WEEE waste experts. For more information on this, and to check on what types of waste this is and how to go about disposing of it – check here.
Waste management can be a major headache for any firm, but with some research and a logical approach – it can help businesses save money and help the environment.
It’s the stuff that gets us going and sustains us every day, we frequently visit shops full of it and there’s a realm of television shows, blogs and internet website about it. But what happens to all that food?
It doesn’t always make it to our stomachs. In a 2013 survey of the commercial food sector, it was found that 12 million tonnes are discarded every year – much of which was avoidable. The commercial food industry has still not found a way to be more resourceful with its stock – which is good news for for those who make a living removing this waste.
The regulations and rules surrounding food waste are every bit as stringent and complicated as they are for food which is intended for our plates. What the food is, governs how it is disposed and where.
Firstly, anything that can no longer be eaten – by humans at least -is classed as ‘former food stuffs’; food that has come from animal by-products (ABP) – meat, fish and diary for example, regardless of whether they are raw or partially-cooked or completely cooked.
Raw meat fish and dairy cannot be taken to a landfill or used as animal feed. Slightly cook or cooked meat and fish, as well as ready-meals, pies and oils pose a slightly lower risk – they can be sent to a landfill but used as animal feed.
The lowest risk food is baking and confectionary products – not containing meat, fish or seafood – as well as oils and eggs. These can be sent to landfill sites or used as animal feed.
The highest risk category of ABP is raw meat, fish and seafood – this must be sent to an incineration plant. Manufacturers and caterers can send up to 20kg of partially-cooked fish, meat and shellfish to landfill every week, any other food waste can be sent to a biogas or composting facility. The lower risk category of food can either be incinerated or taken to an anaerobic digestion plant, or made into fertiliser, depending on their constituents.
Disposing of former food stuffs is heavily regulated and poses a number of issues. A thorough method for handling food waste is recommended, with improved waste management, which can lead to better practices and increased rewards for businesses.
Try as we might, we can’t ever avoid risk. Even when we’re trying to do something as positive as waste management. As business, you try to avoid risk at all costs. Depending on what kind of business you’re in, and if you’re in a waste management industry job, you probably fill out risk assessments on a weekly, if not daily basis. But what are the hidden risks? The ones that slip under the radar and catch you out at the last moment. Some are easily forgotten or not even thought about, but unfortunately, be it in law, personal injury or environmental damage, it won’t matter how hidden the risks are.
Doesn’t sound as nitty gritty as hazardous waste but like everything waste management has some hefty rules and a lot of those could be ones that a business may not think about. Waste management is more than following the three R’s. The definition of ‘waste’ differs throughout legal literature and it’s important that there’s someone or several people making sure that any hidden waste management laws are dealt with and not purring your business at legal risk.
- Legal Risks.
This isn’t just the toxic, green, acid like substance we see in tv and film. But chemical and biological waste such as car batteries, bleach, varnishes, dead animal carcasses, straw, hay needle, human waste, garden products and much, much more. All of these things can cause harm to someone in contact with them. While some of these wastes may seem obviously hazardous (human waste, carcasses, bleach ect) things like garden products, straw, hay and batteries may slip under the radar, risking harm to others. Obviously the biggest risk with hazardous waste is the harm to employee’s interacting with it. This can be through several ways…
- Hazardous Waste
As stated before, things like needles count as hazardous waste. Therefore if someone’s skin is penetrated with a needle or sharp object, then they are exposed to any kind of contamination and are at risk. It can often be something overlooked as especially if the waste is a mass and hasn’t been organised into categories or managed effectively.
- Risk of Injection.
This doesn’t just mean hands or through cuts and grazes. A thing that is often caught out is the contact with eyes that also counts as a skin contact. Anything that is getting involved with eye membrane and mucus is going to cause damage.
- Skin Contact
Breathing around waste is a risk. And a hidden one at that. Asbestos, gas and all other inhalable toxins lurk in waste. Hidden from sight until someone takes that deep breath before starting work on waste management. Things like masks should be provided by an employer but even regular health checks for employees could be a good thing to offer, minimising this hidden risk.
- Inhalation Risks
Sounds odd, but it is a genuine risk for something working in waste management. From machinery to the deafening noise of glass collection and methods of recycling. Over time this can become quite a dangerous thing for work.
- Noise Risks
Whatever your position in waste management, you know that it’s an environment to stay clean and hygienic in. Poor hygiene practises amongst staff, poor hygiene education and/or lack of proper washing facilities can make those waste management risks even riskier and harder to spot.
You’re probably aware that hazardous waste can be a serious problem. After all, it’s called hazardous for a reason. But do you know the sorts of issues such waste can cause?
At North West Waste, we specialise in waste management, putting together disposal plans that ensure your waste is disposed of the right way. So we thought we’d highlight precisely what problems hazardous waste can cause, and the importance of disposing it the right way.
These days, we’re more aware of the environment, with climate change and eco-friendly living featuring highly on news agendas. As such, it’s unsurprising that more and more people are taking an interest in how hazardous waste can affect the environment.
Simply tossing such waste into the sea, for example, doesn’t mean it sinks without a trace; it means that it’ll pollute the seas. There have been cases, for example, of whales who have enough toxic waste in their systems to kill a human – and enough to kill a whale too, it seems.
Storing it on land, too, can mean that hazardous materials, like chemicals in paint or batteries, infiltrate the soil and plant systems. Such toxins can also enter the water supply, which affects every living being: humans, animals and plants.
And all of that can lead to…
All living creatures can be exposed to hazardous waste in three ways:
- Personal Hygiene- Or lack of.
Consider water, polluted by hazardous waste. We could be exposed by each of these: we might breathe in toxic fumes as we shower, or splash it onto our faces, or even drink it. We don’t need to simply wolf down a glass of hazardous waste – in fact, usually, we won’t even know we’ve ingested anything toxic until it’s too late.
Depending on who has been exposed, and to what level, the effects of hazardous waste on the body can vary. Perhaps you’ll feel faintly nauseous, or severely sick; you might have headaches.
On the other hand, it could be far more serious. Over time, such wastes might cause issues such as liver failure, breathing problems or even cancer. Prolonged exposure may even harm off-spring, causing birth defects and reproductive disorders. At worst, failing to dispose of hazardous wastes correctly can even lead to death.
Such problems can be eliminated when hazardous waste is disposed of correctly. Here at North West Waste, we believe that it’s imperative to protect both the environment and the population. Because of that, we use our experience and expertise to reduce the effects of hazardous and toxic waste – by finding the disposal solution that not only adheres to all regulations, but also one that works for you.
- Dermal exposure – where hazardous waste enters via the skin’s pores
- Inhalation – where the waste is breathed in
- Ingestion – where hazardous waste is eaten or drank
Waste management might not be something we think of on a daily basis. Especially when we’re at work. A business will generate more waste than an average household. Ten times over. Be it paper waste, water waste, technology waste or a lack of recycling bins- waste is happening, and it isn’t good.
This is something that needs to change. As a business, you can actually help with waste management more than you think and there are financial and reputation based benefits in doing so. Many businesses have embraced a zero waste attitude and are helping the environment, and themselves in the process.
Some waste management facts can be shocking to hear, but amongst them are equally shocking positives that come out of it. If you are a business that needs to update their recycling ethos, then these facts may help.
- It’s unlikely a business doesn’t use a computer and maybe a few of them. In fact, it’s used so much that one day it will burn out and break down. Probably heading straight for a skip on its way to the landfill. But computers can be recycled, unfortunately we ignore this and dump around 50 million tons of electrical equipment every year. Ctrl-Alt-Delete.
- How many times have you had to file away paperwork? Shred it? Print it? Sign it? Chuck it? Enough times to cut down 4 million trees a year. Tonnes and tonnes of paper just heading to a landfill, when really recycled paper can be turned into something new in just seven days. Your weekly copy of metro you pick while travelling to work could be the same you picked up last week. The only new thing is the scandals.
- Companies can benefit from attempting a zero waste to landfill ethic. The avoidance of diverting company waste to a landfill and trying for a complete reuse of waste could save a company £500 a month in landfill tax. Maybe more. The office Christmas party just got a little bit fancier, just turn off the printer at the wall.
- A companies landfill efforts are vetted by third party verification parties. There are three categories a business can be fitted into. Zero Waste to Landfill:Products, facilities and/or organizations that have achieved a landfill waste diversion rate of 100 percent. Virtually Zero Waste to Landfill: Those that have achieved a landfill diversion rate of 98 percent or greater. Landfill Waste Diversion: For those that have achieved landfill waste diversion rates of 80 percent or greater. A lot of customers like the idea of using a company whose mind is also on the environment. Waste not want not.
- Water waste is something we forget needs management. In a business setting you have multiple people using the bathroom. People going in and out every day flushing toilets and leaving taps on. A leaky tap could waste around 5000 litres of water, what happens if someone leaves the tap fully on? Water rates don’t pay themselves and the planet doesn’t save itself.
- Lighting in offices is usually made up from those florescent tubes with one that always flickers in the corner of the room ominously. These are rarely disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. That’s leaves us with 80 million tubes and 4 tonnes of mercury scattered about in a landfill.
- By building healthy waste management habits, one small business can help the world. This can be hard work, but there are companies out there that specifically help business become more sustainable. A good investment for your business and the world your business lives in.