two oil barrels with hazardous waste.
Facts about hazardous waste

Hazardous Waste Facts

The world produces more than 400 million tonnes of hazardous waste every year. This ranges from a couple of dead AA batteries from a TV remote to barrels of toxic liquid waste generated by factories. Production of hazardous waste isn’t slowing down either as more man-made chemicals are used today than ever before.

The pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and energy sectors are some of the main industries responsible for hazardous waste production. We also create types of hazardous waste in our homes, such as waste paint, car engine oil, and pesticides used in the garden. Responsible management of any amount of hazardous is essential to protect human and environmental health.

Be alarmed about how much potentially dangerous waste is generated across the world with these stats and facts about hazardous waste. Hopefully, they serve as a good warning for why responsible storage, removal, and disposal of hazardous waste is so important.

What causes hazardous waste?

There are many causes of hazardous waste but one of the main ones is by-products from industrial manufacturing processes. Factories and manufacturing plants can produce many types and amounts of hazardous waste materials that are unavoidable. Due to its potentially harmful nature lots of this can’t be recycled or reused.

Other causes of hazardous waste include waste oil generated by garages, pesticides used in agriculture, and chemical waste created in laboratories. Simple causes of hazardous waste at home include having to throw away the residue left in a paint can and any unused or contaminated cleaning products.

Taking steps to reduce waste where possible is important to minimise the risk hazardous waste poses to other people and the environment. It’s also a good way for businesses and wider industries to take action and do their bit to minimise the huge amount of global hazardous waste created every year.

Interesting facts about hazardous waste

Hazardous waste management only came into focus in the 20th century. In the USA there have been laws around the transport of dangerous goods since 1871 after there were a few explosions when moving compressed gases, explosives, and flammable items. However, there was little regulation about the disposal of hazardous waste until a hundred years later.

More research, product and technological developments and better healthcare have all led to the world producing more hazardous waste. Here are some interesting facts about hazardous waste:

  • Waste is classified as hazardous if it contains substances or has properties that could harm human health or the environment via exposure
  • Dangerous properties of hazardous waste could result in:
    • Explosion or fire
    • Infection
    • Chemical instability, reactions, or corrosion
    • Cancer, mutation, or birth defects
    • Damage to ecosystems or natural resources
  • More than 100,000 different chemical substances can be found across everyday products
  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identifies and classifies materials as hazardous in the UK
  • Around 15% of all waste generated by healthcare activities is hazardous waste, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO)
  • Before the 1970s there were few regulations in place for hazardous waste – today the Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005 cover how it must be managed and disposed of
chemicals in glass jars.

Hazardous waste statistics

Statistics about hazardous waste vary across countries and industries. One hazardous waste statistic that covers the whole world and raises an alarm is that between 1930 and the year 2000 the production of man-made chemicals rose by a staggering 40,000%. We create more hazardous waste today than ever before.

Be warned by these hazardous waste statistics:

  • More than 400 million tonnes of hazardous waste are produced across the world annually
  • 2% of total waste generated worldwide is classified as hazardous
  • Every second about 13 tonnes of hazardous waste is generated around the world
  • It works out at nearly 60kg of hazardous waste per person on the planet
  • The UK produces around 3 million tonnes of hazardous waste every year, according to government figures
  • Almost half the UK’s hazardous waste (1.9 million tonnes) comes from commercial and industrial waste
  • Construction, demolition, and electronic waste make up 0.7 million tonnes of the UK’s total hazardous waste
  • Global synthetic chemical production is worth an estimated $7.8 trillion a year
  • Each year about 16 billion injections are administered globally, which creates lots of waste needles and syringes

Household hazardous waste facts

Our homes are another source of hazardous waste, though not on the scale of big industry. Everything from batteries to paint cans are types of domestic hazardous waste that must be disposed of properly and not in your general waste bin at home. This prevents them from going to landfill.

Here are some household hazardous waste statistics and facts:

  • The UK produces around 2 million tonnes of household hazardous waste
  • Engine oil, batteries, paint, pesticides, household cleaners, and small gas tanks are all examples of household hazardous waste
  • In the USA, the average household throws away 7kg of hazardous waste in their domestic bins every year
  • Household hazardous waste could harm the health of waste collectors if disposed of in domestic bins
  • Research from Dulux found that 55 million litres of paint go to waste in UK homes every year
empty paint can in a garage.

How should I get rid 
of hazardous waste?

Businesses must arrange commercial waste collection by licensed waste carriers of any hazardous waste. It should be separated from other waste types and stored in appropriate containers, drums, or bins on site as soon as it’s produced. Licensed waste carriers will remove it and transport the hazardous waste to a specialist facility for safe disposal.

You’ll receive a duty of care certificate confirming the responsible and legal disposal method. Often this is incineration, but some hazardous waste may be chemically treated. To dispose of any hazardous waste from your home you can normally take it to your nearest household waste recycling centre (HWRC).

At Business Waste we provide hazardous waste collection services for businesses in any industry. We offer free bins and containers with no rental or delivery fees, you just pay for collection Get a free no-obligation quote for hazardous waste collection anywhere in the UK today – call 0800 211 8390 or contact us online.

free bins icon.

Get a fast and free quote

Get a fast FREE quote for hazardous waste collection

  • Free quote within 1 hr
  • Any type of hazardous waste
  • FREE bins and delivery
  • We cover all of the UK