19 Jun 2020

Hazardous wastes are wastes with properties that make it an oxidising agent, flammable, irritant, harmful, toxic, carcinogenic, corrosive, infectious, mutagenic, or ecotoxic. This does not necessarily mean it is an immediate risk to human health, although some waste can be. Large amounts of food waste, such as that from supermarkets, or perhaps leftovers from a large party, are not classed as hazardous, but still do need to be disposed of responsibly.

This article by Colsons will provide some insight into hazardous waste and how it can be disposed of properly. For further information on waste disposal and the services we can provide for a variety of clientele, contact our knowledgeable team.

How to find out if your waste is hazardous

The European Waste Catalogue lists approximately 650 different waste types. Those that are suffixed with an asterisk are considered hazardous.  In some instances, there are hazardous and non-hazardous entries for a specific type of waste. This occurs where the waste contains a dangerous substance at or above certain levels.

In these cases, the composition of the waste must be assessed to determine whether it should be classified as hazardous or non-hazardous waste. Often the manufacturer’s product information or safety data sheets will provide guidance. It is important to note that it’s illegal to mix hazardous waste with either non-hazardous waste or other hazardous waste.

Clinical waste

For example, sharps waste must be collected in approved containers to protect against needle stick injuries. Treatment options for infectious clinical waste include processing through an autoclave, alternative treatment, or incineration. However, sharps and general clinical waste that are contaminated with cytotoxic or cytostatic medicines need high-temperature incineration.

Pharmaceutical waste

When you consider pharmaceutical waste and in particular controlled drugs; any out of date or unwanted drugs should be denatured before being destroyed. This prevents drugs from being retrieved, recovered, or reused prior to destruction by incineration. The disposal of controlled drugs requires the supervision of an authorised person to ensure that the controlled drugs are permanently removed from circulation.

Chemical waste

Chemical waste is probably most commonly thought of when discussing hazardous waste. This is due to the fact that chemical spills represent a significant risk to public health and the environment. When we refer to chemical waste typically the waste is made up from:

  • Antifreeze
  • Batteries
  • Flammable waste
  • Laboratory waste
  • Paints, paint tins or ink containers
  • Pesticides
  • Solvents
  • Waste oils and rags
  • Redundant laboratory chemicals

How to dispose of hazardous waste

Clinical Waste generated from human and animal health care activities provides a range of challenges. For example, clinical waste includes infectious and non-infectious sharps waste, pharmaceutical waste in the form of glass bottles and vials, flu-absorbers, denaturing kits, cytotoxic and cytostatic drugs, and out-of-date or unused medicines.