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The Law, the Environment and Waste Management

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Much effort has been done worldwide over the past decades to decrease our carbon footprint.  If not managed, the effect of waste on the environment can be detrimental. The consequence of waste materials on the natural ability of animals to thrive can be toxic as it can distort their food chain and kill off species. There can also be effects on soil, water and the contribution to global warming. The effect on the economy can include the accumulation of debris build up which can prevent a sustainable future for generations to come.

Disposing of solid municipal waste via landfills and incineration can have many effects. Ingested materials may give rise to asthma and respiratory diseases. Environmental effects include soil acidification and the potential contamination of water. Incineration can cause possible vegetation damage. Composting may include the potential for exposure to harmful bacteria and fungi. Recycling has no significant effects on man or the environment.

Types of waste that can have some toxicity on the environment include municipal solid waste which is usually waste from offices which can include construction debris. Industrial solid waste includes solvents, paints, sludge’s, rubber, glass, straw, abrasives etc. Types of waste that can cause a substantial threat to the environment includes agricultural waste, hazardous waste and nuclear waste. These kinds of waste can produce major or substantial threats to public health and the environment if they are not discarded of carefully.

With regard to the law, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 includes legislation on enforcement, controlled waste and duty of care. This act places a duty of care on any one who manages controlled waste; to take responsibility on how they control that waste so that they minimise harm to the environment or man. A recycling contractor must be authorised by the environment agency and any third party managing waste must have a Waste carriers licence. Businesses can transport their own waste to a licensed commercial waste site without the need for a licence. Electrical items must be dealt with according to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (Amendment) Regulations 2010. Other environmental legislation include the Environment Act 1995. This legislation established the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency as the regulating bodies for contaminated land, control of air pollution and conservation. Other regulations include the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 and the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989.

One can contribute towards a greener future by recycling in the office and at home. In the office, paper, plastic, food, ink cartridges, mobile phones, CD’s and books can all be recycled. A waste contractor could be sourced and employees informed of a new waste management system. Waste prevention can include the efficient use of raw materials and packaging. In the office one could use recycled paper and promote a paperless communication environment with emails being used instead. Using the waste hierarchy of the ‘three R’s’ i.e Reduce, Reuse and Recycle will contribute to decreasing our carbon footprint on the planet.

Sources   hse.gov.uk

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