Hazardous Waste Essentials

Waste is hazardous when it contains substances or properties that might make it harmful to human health or the environment. The legal definition of “hazardous” is based around 15 different properties, some of which are in everyday usage, ie explosive and flammable, while others are more obscure, eg ecotoxic.

Remember that the legal definition of “hazardous waste” is not the same as the everyday understanding of “hazardous”. Wastes which may cause physical injury such as broken glass or syringes are not legally “hazardous waste”, while containers contaminated with a very small quantity of chemicals would qualify as “hazardous waste”.

Examples of the most commonplace hazardous wastes are old computer equipment, fluorescent light fittings, waste oil, contaminated soils, infectious (clinical) waste, end-of-life vehicles, asbestos and waste chemical products such as bleach, solvents and pesticides.

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