Current opinion indicates that eco-friendly waste removal is within the grasp of each community in the UK, if not quickly becoming a moral imperative given the earth’s diminishing resources. The technology for dealing with waste is in place and only requires the will of everyone to participate, from the individual household to the multinational company. The waste disposal model used in the UK is the adherence to a waste hierarchy that provides a guide to the preferred action for each material, specifically from the most to the least preferred; produce no waste, re-use, re-cycle, recovery, and then finally for materials that have no further use, disposal in a landfill. A well-run landfill can be a re-use and recovery activity if methane and carbon dioxide gases are collected through perforated tubing and consequently converted to energy.
The State of Waste Removal in the UK
In the UK, landfill is the most frequent means of waste removal. Each year in the UK about 46 million tonnes of waste from households, commercial sites, and industrial sites are deposited in over 400 landfills. Included in this waste are potentially toxic sewage, quarrying and mining effluvia. Approximately 1.5 million tonnes of the greenhouse gas, methane, released in the atmosphere originates at a landfill. As the landfill waste decomposes in an uncontained landfill, the fluids that are leaching out filter into the underlying geological strata and can pollute the surrounding area.
Eco-friendly Waste Removal — Household Level
Waste disposal begins at the household level with each family understanding the necessity of adopting sustainable waste management techniques. Individuals can make the choice of selectively purchasing goods with the least packaging. The separation of household waste into organic, recyclable, and landfill waste starts with each family sorting the refuse for kerbside collection. The UK government is actively encouraging households to compost organic household waste. In more rural areas, unseparated waste can be collected and removed to a centralized facility for separation.
Eco-friendly Waste Removal — Municipal Level
On a municipal level, organic wastes are beginning to be gleaned from street bins, parks and grounds, and street sweepings. Generally, City Councils in the UK assist businesses in obtaining their environmental goals by providing commercial refuse collection and offering waste management tips and waste classification services.
Eco-friendly Waste Removal — Commercial Level
The revised Waste Regulations of 2011 mandates that businesses apply the waste hierarchy. For instance, a business must apply to have its incinerator classified as an energy recovery plant, otherwise the incinerator is deemed be a disposal operation. Detailed guidelines are available as to how business waste can be stored and managed, how hazardous waste is defined, and who is permitted to collect waste on behalf of a business.
Eco-friendly Waste Removal — Industrial Level
The disposal of industrial waste is covered under the amended Hazardous Waste Regulation 2005, amended in 2011. Examples of hazardous wastes are fluorescent tubing, bio-hazardous items from hospitals such as syringes, some mineral oils, and acids. Industries creating more than 200kg of hazardous waste annually must register with the Environmental Agency. There are strict regulations with regard to not mixing types of hazardous waste and mixing hazardous and nonhazardous wastes. Hazardous materials must be removed by a licensed commercial consignee. The consignee will provide a consignment note that specifies the type of material received and a description of how it was disposed.
Adrian Harrison is a fanatical recycler and writer at James Waste Management. When he is not evangelising on the benefits of green living on twitter and facebook he enjoys blogging about eco-friendly waste removal.