Hazardous waste is any waste that poses significant health and environmental risks. This waste comes from various sources, including commercial processes and household activities. Examples of waste generated commercially include painting wastes and cleaning solvents. In homes, common types include batteries, fluorescent lamps, and computer monitors.
Characterization of Hazardous Waste
The EPA lists four characteristics that waste must meet to be deemed hazardous.
Waste that falls in this category includes liquids whose flashpoints are less than sixty degrees, flammable solids, combustible oxidizers, and compressed gasses. This group of wastes falls under the waste code D001, including petroleum parts washer solvents and waste kerosene.
Corrosive wastes are the aqueous types with a pH up to 2, and for liquids that can corrode steel, only those with a pH of atleast 12.5 fall under this category. Examples include rust removers and caustic tank waste.
Wastes that fall under this category are volatile, react with water, and may release fumes. These wastes can also explode when heated and even when left undisturbed. Examples include metallic sodium and cyanide plating
Toxic wastes pose a threat because of their harmful nature when consumed. They can also seep through the soil and contaminate groundwater. To be deemed toxic, this waste must undergo testing under the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP). Examples of poisonous waste include oily and painting waste.
Importance of Managing Hazardous Waste in the Oil and Gas Sector
Environmental threats are one of the top risks posed by oil and gas companies due to their operations. Other than greenhouse gas emissions, this industry is responsible for producing hazardous waste.
For this reason, these companies must find ways of appropriately managing such waste. Remember, hazardous waste poses health, economic, environmental, and social threats. And while contamination can make waste management a challenge, there are several management schemes that oil and gas companies can undertake.
- Companies can source raw materials that generate less waste. At the beginning of the lifecycle, addressing waste generation reduces pollution, saves costs, and promotes resource efficiency.
- This industry can extend the life cycle of items by reusing them by utilizing waste oil to build roads.
- Companies can convert waste products such as chemical containers into usable items.
- This process may involve detoxifying and neutralizing hazardous waste through thermal analysis and physical filtration.
Household Hazardous Waste Management
Household hazardous waste poses a similar threat to the environment and humans. Improper disposal, such as draining into storm sewers or combining with everyday trash, can result in pollution and health problems.
We recommend practicing proper household waste management. You can do this by:
- Checking and following instructions on products that release hazardous waste. Take note of the usage, storage and disposal guidelines to reduce the risk of fire and other accidents
- Keeping chemicals in their original packaging and never taking out their labels
- Not mixing chemicals as some are ignitable. Also, doing so contaminates the containers rendering them unsuitable for recycling
- Checking with the state or local waste agency on existing management guidelines for hazardous waste. If your neighborhood lacks a designated waste collection site or day, consider talking to your local professional trash collectors for safe disposal
If your business or home generates hazardous waste, it is imperative to understand the level of threat they pose, whether they are toxic or corrosive. More importantly, it would be best to find correct waste management schemes to reduce how much waste you generate, conserve energy and other resources plus ensure safe waste disposal.
With the world facing a climate crisis, secure management of hazardous waste can go a long way in protecting non-renewable resources and ensuring that the environment is habitable for future generations.