Your waste is not something to be disregarded. How you dispose of it is important.
The UK is governed by stringent waste regulations that impact the way you run your business and manage the waste you create. Disposing of your wastes in accordance with current legislation can seem complex, but it needn’t be confusing.
Waste falls into two main categories; hazardous and non-hazardous. In simple terms, hazardous waste is any material that poses an increased threat to human health or the environment, either immediately or over an extended period of time.
Duty of care
In England and Wales, annual producers of over 500kg of hazardous waste have a duty of care, and must register with The Environment Agency. By satisfying these legal waste requirements you will be helping to ensure that your employees are kept safe and the environment is protected. In addition, complying ensures that you do not face any legal enforcement and it may also help you to cut costs.
Duty of care means you are obligated to implement a strategy to fulfill requirements. Hazardous waste must be stored safely and securely. You must ensure that your chosen waste carrier is fully licensed to handle your waste. You must also complete waste transfer notes to document everything you dispose of and keep these records for at least two years.
The Environment Agency requires that producers of healthcare waste must provide an audit of their waste before it can be legally collected by a licensed waste carrier.
This is known as a pre-acceptance audit. It should include information such as the quantity, European waste catalogue code, packing and details of the substances within the waste. This audit can be done in-house, by a third party or via your waste contractor.
The waste hierarchy is based on the principle that it is better to not to create waste in the first place. It ranks the options for managing waste according to what is best for the environment. Beginning with the most preferred environmental option, the hierarchy is as follows:
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recovery, Disposal
Alongside the hierarchy, best practice heightens your ability to reduce your environmental impact while saving money. Adopting simple practices such as educating staff and implementing effective segregation via colour coding for healthcare wastes can be great cost-cutting measures. This also has the effect of making your organisation more environmentally sustainable.