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How to overcome hazardous waste problems?

  • Dr Ken Westlake
  • Proprietor
  • Westlake Associates, United Kingdom

"Africa has been struggling with hazardous waste problems for many years. What can be done to overcome these challenges?"

Although legal definitions may vary, hazardous wastes are those wastes that have potential to cause harm to human health and pollution of the environment. These ‘wastes’ can be unused products or materials produced as a consequence of process transformations.

For the former, the answer to overcoming the challenge posed by hazardous wastes is to redesign the products to remove the hazardous elements while still retaining product efficacy and performance. With this in mind, our training course has a strong element of waste prevention whereby we ensure that those attending leave with a portfolio of tools that can be used to help reduce the hazards associated with wastes and thus reduce related risks to people and the environment. This understanding is facilitated through development of a clear understanding of hazard, risk and so-called pollution linkages.

Where hazardous wastes are produced as a consequence of process transformations then where waste prevention cannot be applied, the solution, more often than not, is to manage these wastes in accordance with the waste management hierarchy so that they will be dealt with in the most sustainable way that is possible. The training programme therefore explores the relationship between hazardous wastes, sustainability and the ‘circular economy’ before exploring the different options for the treatment of hazardous wastes via recycling (where possible), treatment (looking at a range of treatment options), incineration and hazardous waste landfill. In each case the relevance of the different options to the treatment of a range of wastes including oils, wastewaters, waste electrical equipment and chemical wastes is explored.