Dealing with liquid waste

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Liquid waste presents its own challenges to the commercial waste management sector, and needs to be dealt with carefully.

Businesses that produce liquid waste – either in food or drink production, or through manufacturing, for example – have a duty of care to ensure that it is dealt with in a compliant manner. Waste management companies share this duty of care when they are contracted as agents to dispose with such waste, and should be aware of the handling regulations for the type of waste they are carrying.

Badly handled liquid waste is especially dangerous, as a spill could make its way into water tables, ponds and rivers, with devastating effects on wildlife. To this end, the Environment Agency have sweeping powers over such spills, and courts can impose unlimited fines and prison sentences to negligent companies and individuals.

Liquids need not necessarily mean huge tankers full of sewage effluent or waste from industrial processes. The definition also takes in oils – both edible and the motor variety – paint, containers of chemicals or solvents and battery acid. It’s likely that a commercial waste company dealing with everyday businesses could be carrying tons of liquids at any one time, and it’s necessary that they are handled and disposed of properly.

While most liquid waste has a safe route to disposal or recycling, hazardous liquid waste has to be handled carefully. The Environment Agency says that businesses which produce liquids that fall under the hazardous waste regulations must:

– Ensure waste is stored safely
– Use the appropriate danger symbols on the waste container as appropriate
– Register each site that hazardous waste is produced
– Only move or transport hazardous waste with the correct identifying paperwork
– Keep full auditable records of all waste transfers
Ensure waste is managed safely and correctly by competent people

The same duty of care is passed to waste management companies when the waste is transferred to them. While some hazardous liquid waste may be sent to landfill, it’s recommended that it is passed on to a third party that can treat or reduce the waste until it is either recyclable or rendered harmless.

Each substance has different guidelines, but it is always preferable to err on the side on safety to avoid contamination.

Liquid waste handling is a specialism in its own right. However, companies need to be aware of the procedures to ensure that no harm is done.

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