B.P.E.O. (The Best Practicable Environmental Option) is a set of procedures that were adopted by the United Kingdom with one purpose: to manage waste and other environmental concerns. According to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, B.P.E.O. “emphasises the protection and conservation of the environment across land, air and water. The BPEO procedure establishes for a given set of objectives, the option that provides the most benefits or the least damage to the environment, as a whole, at acceptable cost, in the long term as well as in the short term.” In addition, there is also the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (E.P.A.), an act that involves England&Wales and Scotland regarding waste management and emissions’ control into the environment. Pollution, global warming, misconduct and indifference are all problems that will, sooner or later, affect us all irreversibly. We don’t want this to sound like propaganda, or some misguided sense of self-righteousness; we’re only addressing the public ten hazardous waste issues of our days.
Misclassifying non-hazardous waste as hazardous and hazardous waste as non-hazardous can have grave repercussions. The first will dig a big whole in your pocket, while the other can result in fines. So how can you know? Well, you can for instance get the alleged waste tested, or ask for advice from experts.
9. Container Labeling
We are going to continue our list of frequent errors in hazardous waste handling with yet another issue – failing to label a waste container. This could lead to grave consequences. All containers must be clearly identified with the proper chemical name(s) of the substance(s). Trade names, acronyms, abbreviations, codes, or formulas are not acceptable.
8. Waste Minimization
Recycling (or chemical reuse) is advised. Unused and unopened chemicals being disposed as a waste should be redistributed to other laboratories that can make use of those chemicals. Sharing unused chemicals is reducing the amount of chemical waste that is generated.
7. Disposal Options And Problems
The usual methods of disposing hazardous waste include landfills, injection wells, incineration, and bioremediation, among others. However, there are concerns regarding the first two methods – landfills and injection wells – in the sense that substances are most likely to leak into the surrounding groundwater. The consequences of that happening are unimaginable. Once the water is polluted, it’s either too expensive to decontaminate it, or simply impossible. The ideal disposal method is the destruction and conversion of hazardous waste into a non-hazardous form.
6. Using Improper Containers
Hazardous waste containers must be suitable for their contents, including appropriate closures. As such, liquid waste should be in screw-capped bottles, carboys or drums. All containers must be in good condition and compatible with their contents. Do not store hazardous waste in beverage containers, flasks, or containers with cork, rubber, or ground glass stoppers.
5. Radioactive Waste
The creation of long-term radioactive waste is one of the most biggest issues the nuclear power industry is facing with. At the time when power plants were introduced, we thought that they are enough to dispose of the radioactive waste, but, unfortunately, finding a safe way to store radioactive wastes without leaked radiations into the environment proved to be more than difficult.
4. Pharmaceutical Waste
Improper disposal of pharmaceutical waste can have an adverse impact on both the environment and human health across the world. A series of studies proved that the aforementioned effects exist, and have raised concerns about their consequences, if proper actions are not taken. In the UK Labwaste is offering a handful of solutions for different types of hazardous waste.
3. Miscellaneous Hazardous Waste
From gas cylinders to batteries, aerosol cans, waste oils, fluorescent light tubes, and so on, all are a cause of pollution if not properly disposed. Batteries contain lithium, cadmium, mercury, lead acid, are harmful to the environment and ourselves. Same goes for aerosol cans who should be treated as hazardous waste.
2. Compliance Issues
Compliance in hazardous waste management in also an issue that affects not only the generator of the waste, but also the transporter. Compliance checks by EPA -licensed facilities recorded deficiencies – open waste containers, container accumulation beyond the three-day window for storage, waste labels incorrectly completed, and spillage or leakage of waste.
Last but not least, training is probably the most important part to consider in this article. Without proper training, all measures, efforts and energy that are consumed for a greater purpose – a greener, healthier and toxic free environment – are futile. Do not take this lightly, because your life is depending on it. And my life too.