Waste is considered 'hazardous' under environmental legislation when it contains substances or has properties that might make it harmful to human health or the environment. This does not necessarily mean it is an immediate risk to human health, although some waste can be.
The Environment Agency's interpretation of the definition and classification of hazardous waste can be found in their technical guidance.
Many wastes are newly classified as 'hazardous' and some companies will now find themselves dealing with hazardous consignments for the first time. Hazardous waste is defined in the Hazardous Waste List incorporated in the European Waste Catalogue.
On 16 July 2004 the co-disposal of hazardous waste with non-hazardous waste at the same landfill site was prohibited. On 16 July 2005 the Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) came into force. Waste producers are required to ensure that their waste meets the WAC; basic characterisation of waste at an early stage is essential.
Further information is available from the National Household Hazardous Waste Forum who produce the Hazguide which gives advice for those handling hazardous waste from both households and small businesses.