Chemicals are used in many different sectors, for example, in factories, farms, offices and the home. Businesses that transport, store and dispose of hazardous waste have duties under the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 (HWR). There may also be responsibilities under REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). The Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) (WFD) specifies what waste is and how it should be managed. In the UK, hazardous waste assessment is implemented by the Chemical (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 5 (CHIP).
Chemical waste, like any hazardous waste, needs to be disposed of or recycled correctly. The HWR sets out the rules for assessing if a waste is hazardous or not. As part of the assessment of waste, the HWR refers to the “List of Wastes” given in the LoWR. This list is also known as the European Waste Catalogue (EWC).
It should also be determined whether the waste is hazardous, the process which produced the waste, its ingredients and the type of establishment that produced it. Waste can be classified as absolute hazardous waste, non-absolute hazardous waste and waste that is “mirror hazardous” and “mirror non-hazardous entries”. Hazardous waste includes asbestos, chemicals (e.g brake fluid), batteries, solvents, pesticides, fridges and hazardous waste containers. A hazardous waste consignment note would need to be included for hazardous waste. Non-hazardous waste can include, for example, edible oil. For non-hazardous waste, the business must have waste transfer notes to ensure it is being disposed of properly. The last type would be waste that may or may not be hazardous, for example, ink and paint. The term “mirror” waste means waste that could be hazardous or not, depending on what substances it contains. If it contains a hazardous ingredient it is then classified as hazardous.
Businesses and those involved in being responsible for chemical waste have a duty of care from the moment the waste is produced to the time it is given to a licenced waste business to deal with. As well as the aforementioned regulations regarding the classification of chemical waste, employers have a duty under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) to not allow their employees to be harmed at work due to work with hazardous substances. The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (COMAH) as amended aims to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances. These regulations place duties on operators that hold or work with dangerous substances in their premises.