Adrian Witherow of recycling and waste management company, Biffa, considers the importance of dealing with the many different materials classed as hazardous waste in a cost-effective way and without falling foul of complex legislation.
A survey, carried out by Biffa at the Facilities Show 2012, demonstrated that the majority of businesses are now aware of their obligations under the Hazardous Waste Regulations Act 2005 (86%) and that they have either achieved or are working towards the ISO 14001 environmental standard (88%).
This is great news for the industry yet the number of businesses prosecuted in recent years for waste related offences shows that this is still an area of environmental performance in which many businesses can improve.
Classified under the Hazardous Waste Regulations Act 2005, hazardous waste may be harmful to the environment as well as human health. It includes many everyday items that are in constant use throughout the commercial and leisure as well as industrial sectors. Knowing how to dispose of these items safely and sustainably is not only a legal requirement, but quite simply makes good business sense.
Know your waste
Items classified as hazardous include bulbs and UV lamps, chemical wastes such as printer toner, alkaline batteries, aerosols and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) like kettles and toasters.
Helping businesses to learn about the wide variety of waste items that are classed as hazardous is only part of the challenge today. At a time when budgets are being analysed more closely than ever before, waste management companies must make their services as cost-effective and easy to use as possible.
Solutions that allow customers to fix their costs for set periods of time and budget effectively are vitial and should be simple and inexpensive to implement and, most importantly, easy to use and understand.
Cost-effective waste management
The reason it can be so time-consuming, complex and costly to deal with hazardous waste is quite often because the quantities of waste generated are relatively small and contain a wide variety of materials.
Traditionally, multiple containers have been used to manage these different types of materials, but that only increases the administrative burden, cost and risk of not complying with current legislation.
All of this can present a real headache for facilities and business managers whose time could be better spent elsewhere. However, there is an easier, more cost-effective method.
A single collection service, such as Biffa’s Waste-Safe Mini, can give peace of mind that all legislative requirements are met and reduce the administrative burden of arranging different collections as well as cutting the costs generated by utilising multiple services.
This type of service provides assurance that the relevant legislation is complied with as well as an audit trail for customers to demonstrate legality to the authorities. Collection services such as the Waste-Safe Mini therefore eliminate the risk of non-compliance and possible subsequent prosecution.
Dealing with difficult waste sustainably
Facilities management companies should not overlook the importance customers place on their moral obligations. Driven by increasing levels of environmental awareness, public demand for corporate social and environmental responsibility is high on the agenda for all businesses today.
It is an area of growing importance and as the demand for sustainable solutions in all types of businesses increases, effective management of hazardous waste is becoming more and more important. Integral to achieving corporate social and environmental responsibility targets, managing hazardous waste correctly is also key to achieving the ISO 14001 environmental standard.
With its own nationwide infrastructure for the collection, treatment and where possible recycling of hazardous waste, Biffa is leading the way in delivering guaranteed legal compliance for every step in the recycling and waste management process.
For example, hazardous waste collected via Biffa’s Waste-Safe Mini service is processed into safe and non-harmful materials and following treatment, almost all of the waste deposited in a Waste-Safe Mini can be recycled, helping business to achieve higher recycling rates.
Recycling and waste management companies must rise to the challenges faced by facilities managers in an increasingly tough marketplace – in short the industry needs to deliver more. Tailored collection services that meet customers’ specific requirements, are easy to use, cut unnecessary costs and administration and prove to be environmentally sustainable, are the only practical, long-term solution for all.
“Driven by increasing levels of environmental awareness, public demand for social and environmental responsibility is high on the agenda for all today.”
Hazardous waste is waste that may be harmful to human health, the environment or both. Typical examples of hazardous waste include:
Chemical wastes, including printer toner
Redundant or broken electrical equipment with potentially harmful components such as cathode ray tubes or lead solder, e.g. computer monitors or televisions
Fluorescent light tubes
Vehicle and other lead-acid batteries
Waste oils, including oily sludges
Waste refrigerators containing ozone-depleting substances
Solvents, e.g. aerosols
Lead-acid batteries Pesticides