What Does Household Hazardous Waste Storage Mean?
Household hazardous waste (HHW) storage containers are designed for use by waste collection, disposal, and storage sites. They are designed to meet various secondary containment requirements to safely separate HHW from workers.
HHW, sometimes referred to as “retail hazardous waste,” refers to products that meet the definition of hazardous waste once discarded by the consumer. HHW can include small businesses as well as households. Such waste includes motor oil, home-use pesticides, cleaning chemicals, many consumer electronics, home-use medical supplies, and batteries.
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Safeopedia Explains Household Hazardous Waste Storage
Because of the varying types of HHW and the diversity of hazards associated with it, many HHW storage units have multiple sub-containers to hold separate types of HHW. These allow incompatible types of HHW to be stored in the same container without increasing the safety risk. These sub-containers may also have differing safety features (e.g. ventilation, spill trays) that are purpose-built for the specific type of HHW they are to be used for.
The use of HHW containers is necessary in many waste-management environments. In many major countries, HHW continues to be placed into general waste. This is partially because wastes generated through household activity are often not subject to the same set of regulations that occupational hazardous wastes are. For instance, in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specifically exempts HHW from its regulations. Storage facilities are necessary to ameliorate the resulting risks faced by workers with potential exposure to HHW.
Although household waste is exempted from many jurisdictions’ federal hazardous-waste-disposal regulations, an increasing number of sub-national jurisdictions in the United States, Canada, EU nations, and other countries are passing regulations to provide obligations for the disposal of HHW. For instance, some U.S. states exclude small businesses from being included in the HHW exemptions laid out by the EPA. However, continued improper sorting of household waste by individual homes means that storage facilities remain necessary in these instances.
Needlestick injuries from improperly disposed biomedical sharps are a significant occupational threat faced by waste-management professionals. As workers have a right to safety, employers have an obligation to provide facilities that reduce waste-management workers’ risk of exposure to safe levels.
Other Storage Scenarios
HHW storage units may also be used in other scenarios, such as by small businesses that require a safe location to store their waste until it can be collected. In jurisdictions that require separate disposal of HHW, it is generally required that businesses or homes have their HHW sorted, separated, and placed in proper containers. While an individual household may only need to use small containers such as properly sealed paint containers or a plastic biomedical sharps container, a small business may require a larger certified containment unit for proper storage.