The wastes which are potentially harmful or dangerous to our health and environment is known as hazardous waste. It can come in any form liquid, solid or gas. Some examples are- motor oil, cleaning fluids, brake oils, Kerosene, batteries etc.
Around 5.6 million tonnes of hazardous waste has been produced in the year 2014- 2015 in Australia, which is 9% of the total waste generated in this period in Australia.
94% of hazardous waste in Australia is generated and managed by infrastructure industries located within a state or territory border, 5% crosses the interstate border and 1% is exported to or imported from overseas.
Hazardous waste is increasing by 9% each ear in Australia. (This statistics is for the period of 2014 – 2015, source: www.environment.gov.au).
There are two main types of hazardous waste, those are,
Household Hazardous Wastes
Household hazardous wastes are the wastes which are used in household chores. They are potentially toxic, explosive or harmful to people’s health and environment.
Chemicals contained in garages, kitchens, backyard sheds and laundries can cause serious health damage by turning into harmful hazardous waste.
Hazardous household waste includes:
- Motor oil
- Chemicals used in kitchens and bathrooms
- Drain cleaners
- Oil paint
- Fluorescent lamps
- Lamp ballasts
- Medical waste
- Smoke detectors
- Electronic wastes such as TV, cell phones etc.
- Pool chemicals ( To find out how to store Pool Chemicals click here)
Commercial Hazardous Wastes
Most of the hazardous waste is generated by commercial chemical and manufacturing industries. Any industries that use the following materials for their manufacturing process probably creates hazardous waste:
- Cleaning fluids
- Materials that dissolved metal, wood, paper and clothing
- Any products that labelled with danger, hazardous or poison
Commercial hazardous wastes include:
- Contaminated soils and asbestos
- Waste from the heavy manufacturing industries
- Mining wastes such as coal seam
- Grease trap waste produced by commercial cooking
- Lead-containing wastes
Characteristics of Hazardous Waste
Hazardous waste must be disposed of with special care to prevent animal health risks and environmental harm.
Following are the characteristics to be aware of:
Ignitability: Easy to catch on fire. Example- methanol, ethanol, benzene etc.
Corrosivity: Usually acids or bases and are capable of corroding metal containers. Example- hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, sodium hydroxide solution etc.
Reactivity: Unstable under normal conditions and can easily cause explosions generate toxic fumes, violent reactions and explosive gases. Example- concentrated sulfuric acid, sodium metal, lithium metal, amides, metal azides etc.
Toxicity: Toxic waste leaches contaminated liquid which pollutes the groundwater. Example- arsenic, barium, cadmium, silver etc.
Disposing of Hazardous Waste
Hazardous waste can’t be disposed of in landfills like other wastes. It requires special treatment. The chemicals or gasses from waste identified as dangerous, can leak into the environment or waterways and cause serious risks for the animal health and environment. It is illegal to dispose of hazardous waste in regular landfills and regular ways.
Here are Some Techniques to Dispose of Hazardous Waste Properly:
1.Identify the common waste items identified as hazardous
At first, you have to identify the hazardous wastes. Some examples of this type of wastes have been given above in this article.
2. Find out local hazardous waste collection and disposal facilities
Hazardous wastes require special handling. Never mix this type of wastes with normal trash. Check out what waste management services are available in your area. If you are not sure what you should do with the wastes your household or industry produce, talk with a waste collection and disposal service provider in your area. On the other hand, in some communities, they have their own hazardous waste collection and drop-off facilities. Find out if your community already has this facility.
3. Hire a waste management expert
If you are running an industry or business and producing hazardous wastes but not sure what to do with them, hire an expert waste management consultant. Experts from waste management services can come to your industry or business to review your waste and give you their opinion about it. They can give you solid ideas about what you should do with your hazardous wastes.
Many hazardous wastes can be recycled or in some cases can be reclaimed. There might be some sites in your locality who accepts some hazardous waste to give it to the people who can still use it. Find out and contact them to know what they can recycle. For example, used oils can be salvaged and recycled, batteries can also be recycled.
5. Reduction can be an effective disposal tactic
There are many companies and industries that are looking for ways to reduce the number of chemicals they use to reduce the amount of hazardous waste they generate. Some can provide you with free waste audit services for your industry or business so that you can have a complete idea about the amount of hazardous waste your industry is producing.
There are also various approaches that can be taken to reduce hazardous waste generation:
- Using Lean Manufacturing tactic that allows creating a zero waste environment for your business
- Applying Environmental Management System to build your company’s environmental footprint
- Enabling energy recovery system to produce electricity from synthetic gas by burning out the wastes through gasification
Improper hazardous waste disposal method can harm animal life and environment. To reduce hazardous waste, try to use non-hazardous products and consider alternatives when available. For example, use strainers instead of chemical drain cleaner, non-aerosol products instead of aerosol products. Act now, reduce your waste generation and help the planet go green again.