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Hazardous Waste ....

(Plastics to WEEE)

... never underestimate the dangers

The items listed here include Plastics, Sewage, Toxic Metals, TVs and Radios, Tyres and Rubber, Vehicles and WEEE and RoHS.
The careful disposal of hazardous materials is a public responsibility to prevent damage to man and animals. Often, the waste can be put to beneficial use by suitably qualified organisations.
Managers have a duty to ensure that workplace hazardous wastes are correctly identified at each stage of production and appropriate measures are taken to protect the health of employees and contractors who transport or dispose of waste. These provisions are built into the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 1999 (SI 1999 No. 437).

To know more about the definitions of Waste, Hazardous Waste and Difficult Waste, click here Definitions of Waste.
Some items in this section are more accurately described as Difficult Waste.

Waterfall on Ottawa River Sunset in India
Waterfall on Ottawa River (© Wendy) Polluted Indian Sunset
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Hazardous Waste Index
Down General Hazardous Waste Services
DownCFCs & HCFCs
DownComputers and CRTs
DownFluorescent Lamps
DownGarden Chemicals
DownOil & Oil Filters
DownPaint & Coatings
DownPanes of Glass
DownPhotographic Chemicals
DownPrinter Cartridges
DownToxic Metals
DownTVs & Radios
DownTyres & Rubber
DownWEEE and RoHS

  What is BPEO? We'd call it a pragmatic compromise.

BPEO stands for the Best Practicable Environmental Option and provides guidance for waste disposal policymakers to control the best balance of measures. One factor is to balance and minimise contamination of the environment as a whole ie air, water and land (eg removing pollution from the air might cause more detrimental pollution of land or water). Other factors include doing it at an acceptable cost and aiming to achieve results which are are effective in the long term as well as the short term.

Successful Residents Campaign against McDonalds The photograph on the left shows an active residents' campaign opposing the proposed, invasive development of a McDonalds' fast food outlet in the village of Hinchley Wood, Surrey. This would have caused an influx of traffic from the nearby A3 with the usual environmental problems, such as litter, noise and other pollutions. The campaign was successful and the pub was eventually replaced by residential accommodation instead. Click the picture for more detail.


Orange Rose at Wisley

Most plastics are not biodegradable, contain harmful chemicals and can damage the environment when discarded (PVC can be particularly dangerous when incinerated [see our synopsis of WEEE in the Electrical/Electronic section]). There are now many recycling schemes in the UK, most councils seem to be effective.
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) can also be recycled; we've found one company who collects and recycles EPS.
Where does the recycled plastic and EPS go? To learn more about the many examples and the recycling possibilities in the UK see our Reference page on Plastics: Recycling and Marking Codes.

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    The Applegate Directory is for the plastics, rubber, electronics and engineering industry sectors in the UK and Ireland. You can advertise in the Directories to promote your business.
    The British Plastics Federation (BPF), trade association of the UK plastics industry, states waste plastics can be incinerated in purpose-built, clean-burning power stations to generate electricity. The Plastics and Rubber Advisory Service (PRAS) provides expert advice on plastics use.
CK Polymers plastics division buy and sell plastic waste, reground, recycled compound polymers. They provide a range of plastic recycling and waste management services and products throughout the full product lifecycle.
    RECOUP (Recycling of Used Plastic Containers Ltd), the UK's national plastic container recycling organisation.
    The Save-A-Cup Recycling Company runs a national recycling scheme to collect millions of hard-wall polystyrene vending cups used in the UK.
    Spirit of Nature sell a wide variety of high quality, organically and ecologically produced gifts and essential items. If you would prefer your kids to play with toys made from best quality wood with non-toxic finishes, rather than plastic, try their selection.
    Styrene Packaging and Insulation (SPI) Ltd are a fully accredited Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) recycler and provide a collection service for any waste EPS products. They give details of uses for recycled EPS.
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Printer Cartridges
Handling toner cartridges can pose a minor hazard. Empty cartridges are classified as hazardous waste since July 2005, but recycling has grown into a significant industry. For extensive information on recycling or buying recycled printer cartridges go to the navigation menu at the top of the page and select our section on Printer Cartridges.
Sewage can present hazards, particularly in locations where it is not possible to connect into main drainage and treatment systems. Septic tanks are commonly installed in such areas but they are not always satisfactory, producing local contamination and offensive outflows. We intend to provide links to companies which address this problem. provide a UK wide service supplying and fitting non mains drainage sewage systems and pumping stations as well as a full service, repair and maintenance service.
    Kingspan Environmental offer a range of sewage treatment systems (better than septic tanks), designed to meet the needs of self-build and small developments as well as commercial applications including holiday parks, campsites, offices, service stations, hotels, leisure clubs, and larger housing developments where there is no access to mains drainage.
Toxic metals
Lead, Mercury and Cadmium (and their compounds) are perhaps the most common toxic metals found in the community but others such as Hexavalent Chromium are potentially dangerous. Even Nickel can cause skin irritation as many bare-bellied, wearers of Jeans with press studs can testify.
Lead is common in the home because of its historical use in paints and children and DIY enthusiasts are particularly at risk. Because metals are so widely used, we cannot identify all the potential sources, however, there are several items of information on this site. See for example Batteries and Fluorescent Lamps on this page, WEEE and RoHS below and Mobile Phones on the Electronics & Phones section. You may also find useful links where the organisations are concerned with general waste disposal.
Televisions and Radios
Many small companies specialise in repairing and reselling broken TVs or radios and some will pay you for them. Unwanted, working equipment could be given to schools or charities (though not all will accept electrical goods). Also see CRTs above for recycling of TVs and monitors and our Electrics and Phones section.
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Tyres and Rubber
Millions of tyres are land filled, illegally dumped or stockpiled each year in the UK, threatening fires and pollution. In 1995, industry with the government established The Scrap Tyre Working Group and things are improving with increases in retreading and waste-to-energy plants. Some contacts are:
    Charles Lawrence International Ltd pioneered the recycling of vehicle tyres in 1991. The special, innovative process avoids landfill or incineration and creates a base material that is incorporated into many useful products.
    Credential Environmental states is a UK market leader in the safe collection, transfer, re-processing and disposal of tyres and Automative wastes, including waste oils and oil filters, glycols, brake fluids, batteries - and catalytic converters.
    The Retread Manufacturers Association (RMA) is nationally recognised for makers of commercial and passenger vehicle retreaded/remoulded tyres.
South West Tyre & Rubber Recyclers Ltd specialise in recycling car and commercial tyres and offer free impartial advice on recycling rubber products. They take end of life tyres and process them into various grades of rubber shred and crumb.

Saltire Recovery provide a responsible, efficient and economic waste tyre management service to wholesale and retail outlets in the UK, giving a professional, guaranteed scrap tyre collection service and used tyre disposal route for all customers wishing to be legally responsible for the disposal of their scrap tyres in an environmentally friendly way.


TyreSafe is a non-profit making concern, responsible for raising and promoting greater awareness of tyre safety, funded and supported by tyre manufacturers and retreaders.

Feeding the Swans Notice: Click to enlarge Do you ever feed the swans? Click on the image to see this notice from Bushy Park (Click Back to return).
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The EU introduced a new End of Life Vehicles (ELV) directive in 2003 (2000/53/EC) which aims to reduce the amount of waste from ELVs. All ELVs must be disposed of properly at an ATF (authorised treatment facility), which must meet tightened environmental standards. According to the Sunday Times (The Knowledge, 7 May 2006) the ELV must be delivered to the ATF by the last registered keeper although local councils may offer to do this at their discretion. Firstly the vehicle is de polluted (harmful chemicals removed and recycled where possible, airbags neutralised etc) then the vehicle is stored in preparation for recycling. The directive requires 85% of the weight of the vehicle to be recycled with a further target of 95% by 2015. From 1 January 2007 the cost of these processes will pass to the manufacturer.

    The BIS site gives more information on the ELV directive and regulations, with the UK's own transposing regulations.
    DEFRA give information on the End of Life Vehicle Directive here.
    The European Commission give information on End of Life Vehicles, consultations and the Directive.
WEEE and RoHS   Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) is perceived as a serious source of toxic materials and in order to reduce the amount entering the environment the European Union introduced two directives which, in the UK, are due to come into force in Q3 2006.
One of the directives, namely the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) is aimed at minimising the particular substances at source, that is at the manufacturing stage. The other directive is concerned with Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) which is at the opposite end of the product life-cycle. The main responsibilities for compliance lie with the manufacturers of EEE components and systems and with certain entrepreneurs (importers and exporters) within the Single Market. The likely impact will be to create quite a heavy organisational burden, especially for small businesses, and over several years it will be very costly to implement, however, it is expected to provide very large environmental benefits.
To learn more, you can read our Reference page on WEEE and our Reference page on RoHS.
    The BIS site gives information on the WEEE and RoHS directive and regulations in it's Environmental and Technical Regulations section. BIS also provides the 'Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations: individual producer responsibility (IPR) in a UK context' and ' RoHS Regulations: government guidance notes' as pdf documents.

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Page originated: 21 July, 2001  Last updated: 7 May, 2013
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