Waste materials

Lesson Progress:
Waste hierarchy

Your employer has a responsibility to identify how and where they create waste They should identify opportunities for waste prevention, reuse, recycling and reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, in line with the waste hierarchy.

Always check if someone else can use what you are about to throw away, as it might have a use elsewhere.

Different types of waste should be segregated into different skips or bins so that they can be recycled more easily. Recycling waste means that it does not have to go to landfill.

Hazardous waste must never be mixed in with other types of waste.
Segregated waste streams

To assist, colour coded labels are often put on skips or bins to show what type of waste should be put in them.

If hazardous waste gets into landfill it can be damaging to the environment. It must be removed from site by specialist contractors and treated before being recycled or disposed of correctly.

  • Asbestos.
  • Batteries.
  • Used spill kits.
  • Fluorescent light tubes.
  • Waste solvents (such as white spirit, oil and bitumen-based paints).
  • Epoxy resins and mastics.
Oily rags segreagted intohazardous waste containers
Environmental damage can result from poor waste management in the following circumstances.

  • Poor housekeeping, exposing unprotected waste to the weather and scavenging animals.
  • Where controls of waste segregations are insufficient.
  • Where hazardous waste is mixed with other waste (such as asbestos cement mixed with rubble, or plasterboard with biodegradable material).
  • Insufficient checks on waste carriers who illegally dispose of or fly tip the waste.
  • Inappropriate disposal of contaminated concrete washout water into surface water (such as streams and rivers).
Everyone has a part to play in preventing environmental damage. By being aware of the potential environmental risks that arise from your work, you will be able to avoid incidents, which will help to create a more sustainable and healthy environment for everyone.