What's To Be Done With The Waste
The unseen end of life for products we use everyday is a world of regulations unknown by most outside of the industry. As we see an enormous increase in hand sanitizing, surface disinfecting, and concern over viral spread of disease, we also see an increase in what may be hazardous waste. Recent recalls of hand sanitizers sold across Canada further burden waste management with potentially improper disposal of these flammable liquids.
In Canada it is the responsibility of the waste generator to classify and characterize what type of waste they have produced as well as the appropriate method of disposal. Luckily in many areas there are household hazardous waste drop off sites or community round-ups to get old chemicals out of homes and to the proper sites for disposal. These drop off sites or round ups are the best way for most people to dispose of their hazardous waste.
The question is, what items go where? A good first step in knowing whether you can send your items to the land fill is to check for WHIMIS symbols on containers. Most items with these symbols will need to be kept out of landfills. Flammables, oxidizers, as well as strong acids or bases all pose the risk of starting fires and are not to be combined with regular household trash. These categories include items like hand sanitizers (flammable), bleach (a base and oxidizer), and most bathroom cleaners (acids and bases).
Other common WHIMIS symbols you may find in your home include the symbols for toxics, irritants, and environmental hazards. Though these may cause danger to waste handles the main concern is the leeching of these chemicals into our land and water ways. Many sanitizers and disinfectants make use of toxic chemicals to kill micro-organisms. Toxins sent to the landfill instead of being disposed of properly can seep into the groundwater compromising it for years to come.
As a household user of these products, you are the waste generator and its up to you to make sure they end up in the correct spots once your done with them. Keeping our planet in mind, it is better to be safe than sorry as there is no charge for household disposal of hazardous waste.
Businesses have the added challenge of cost while seeking to dispose of waste as one might at home. Waste removal or recycling can be costly, so it is important to properly classify your waste. Storage, transport, and worker safety all become a concern as a business generates dangerous waste.
Ensuring safe storage of empty containers and other dangerous waste becomes a grander task as the pile grows. Just as with large stocks of hazardous chemicals, several things need to be considered. As quantities increase a secure, marked space to store items and mitigating the risk of leaks, fires, reactions, or any other possible emergency may become necessary. Even “empty” containers will have residues making them continue to be a hazard and thus must be treated as such.
Luckily for most businesses use of seriously hazardous substances is limited. Many cleaning products once empty can be triple rinsed to wash away residues that create the hazard. A great deal of money can be saved by identifying items like these that are safe to be diluted and sent down the drain leaving a clean, empty, and recyclable plastic to be sent off with normal recycling.
There are many overlapping pieces of legislations that work together to protect workers and the environment from the dangers of waste. If you’re not comfortable deciding on the hazards present in your waste be sure to contact local waste management experts or your provincial government to ensure safe disposal. These experts will have the expertise and experience to help you assess your potentially dangerous garbage. Please do what ever you can keep chemicals out of our landfills and our planet will thank you.