Hazardous waste makes up for 20% of Canada’s waste management problem. Federal and provincial governments and regulations help create cooperative agreements to control the handling and storage of waste across Canada.
To protect our planet and each other, it’s essential to understand what hazardous waste is and what we can do to improve the proper handling. As of 1999, the CEPA (Canadian Environmental Protection Act) began to govern how hazardous waste is handled in the country.
Traditional recycling does not properly dispose of hazardous waste. Home and businesses must understand what hazardous waste is, its environmental effect, and how to dispose of it properly.
What Is Hazardous Waste?
In Canada, hazardous waste is flammable, corrosive or inherently toxic material.
There are various types of hazardous waste and it can come from many sources, such as leftover material from oil refining, chemical manufacturing, and metal processing. It’s important to remember that even some household products are deemed hazardous waste.
This includes used batteries, electronic waste, paints, cleaners and pesticides that can become hazardous when improperly disposed of.
How is Hazardous Waste Disposed of?
Depending on the type of hazardous waste, it will be disposed of in a particular way.
Homeowners should seek out their local waste management facility to dispose of their hazardous waste. Many locations offer drop-offs for batteries, household hazardous waste, and mobile house hazardous waste.
Once the waste has been collected at the proper facility, the materials can be treated by chemical, thermal, biological and physical methods.
- Chemical: ion exchange, precipitation, oxidation, reduction, and neutralization.
- Thermal: High-temperature incineration, which will detoxify wastes or destroy them.
- Biological: Genetically engineered bacteria or landfarming practices can metabolize the waste.
- Physical: Evaporation, flotation, filtration, sedimentation, or solidification which encapsulates the waste in concrete with a material that won’t leach (such as ash or lime).
Hazardous waste that can’t be destroyed by a chemical process or incineration is generally sent to special landfills or underground injection sites. It’s important to keep in mind how landfill emissions impact the environment.
Does Hazardous Waste Affect Human Health?
Hazardous waste can pose a threat to human health and the environment. Uncontrolled disposal locations from the past may require remedial action to remove the material and relocate it for proper disposal.
Chemicals can move through water, air, soil, sediment, and dust. Depending on how the chemical enters the body, the effects can be toxic in small or large amounts.
When people come in contact with the materials, it can cause short and long-term effects such as eye irritation, skin irritation, chemical burns, breathing problems, congenital disabilities, and cancer.
Is Hazardous Waste Biodegradable?
Hazardous waste is not biodegradable because the material can’t decompose. A product must be broken down by microbes such as bacteria and fungi for it to be biodegradable. The majority of hazardous waste will not break down naturally and therefore is not biodegradable.
Ensure Hazardous Waste Is Disposed Correctly
Ensure you follow the local hazardous waste disposal rules at home or the office. There is a lot to learn about waste management in Canada, improving recycling, and hazardous waste management plays a vital role in bringing the cycle, full circle.