Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste poses a substantial threat to public health and the environment. Like regular waste, it appears in many forms. They include paints, paint thinners, varnishes, adhesives, antifreeze, solvents, aerosols, inks, resins, waste engine oil, gear and lubricating oil, weed killers, fungicides, pesticides, insect killers, poisons, energy-saving lightbulbs, fluorescent tubes, thermometers, lead acid batteries, Ni-Cd batteries, photographic chemicals, waste medicines, printer cartridges, ribbons and toners, polishes, metal cleaners, drain cleaners, oven cleaners and organic solvents. These products all contain substances that are poisonous, corrosive or flammable.

For this reason disposal of hazardous waste differs from non-hazardous waste. It should not be disposed ofin the mixed municipal waste collection. Hazardous waste is typically dealt with in four different ways:

  • Recycling;
  • Neutralisation;
  • Incineration/destruction;
  • Hazardous waste landfills.

In Ireland, local drop-off facilities for householders and small businesses are managed by a professional hazardous waste industry and are treated appropriately.

Large quantities of hazardous waste are generated in Ireland and there is scope to reduce this through waste prevention programmes. Approximately half of Irish hazardous waste is exported for treatment and unreported hazardous waste is still a problem in this country.

Policy: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a National Hazardous Waste Management Plan 2008-2012 in September 2008. The Plan described the national system for hazardous waste management and identified any gaps that exist in this system. In 2013 the EPA prepared a Proposed Revised National Hazardous Waste Management Plan for public consultation. The plan is a revision of the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan (2008-2012), and resulted in the subsequent publication of the National Hazardous Waste Management Plan 2014-2020. It can be downloaded here.

National Waste Emission Statistics

The Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) contains detailed information on Irish waste statistics. An example is shown below. European statistics, including country-by-country breakdowns, can be found on the E-PRTR website.

Annual CO2 Emissions Reportable to Europe and Sectoral Contribution 2014.

Areas that have banned smoky coal
Courtesy EPA

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