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  9. Incineration of Waste

Incineration of Waste


Introduction

Often seen as an alternative to dumping waste in landfill sites which takes up space and looks unsightly, incinerating waste gets rid of it relatively quickly and easily. Whilst this is a particular benefit, there are unfortunately negative impacts upon the environment as well as for people living near the source of the incineration.

Burning waste will often produce harmful gases which are released and can be harmful to the environment and the ozone layer, as well as being potentially detrimental to the health of people living nearby, especially if particulates are released into the surrounding air and are inhaled by them. If the waste is not thoroughly separated before burning, it can cause hazardous substances to be released.

Incineration plants are nearly always visually intrusive buildings which certainly do not win any awards for their architectural beauty. Add to this the necessity for a large chimney stack through which to release the gas given off through the burning process and it can cause a visibility issue which affects residents for miles around.

Because it is so relatively quick and easy to get rid of waste by burning it, and the environmental effects can be difficult to see, it can have a detrimental effect upon recycling initiatives as people think rubbish can be burnt to dispose of it rather than attempting to re-use or recycle it.

The burning of waste is often done as a quick and easy option to getting rid of the problem without disposing of the materials or substances in the appropriate and legal manner. As well as being detrimental to the surrounding environment, there may also be other unforeseen consequences. One example is damaging a person's health if the material contains harmful substances hazardous to health which are released when burnt. Breathing in harmful fumes is one of the most common forms of how hazardous substances can enter the body, and the risk and toxicity will depend upon the waste being burnt. If a large amount is being incinerated, the person may not know exactly what is mixed up in the pile.

Even if you know the exact contents of the waste to be burnt and are sure that no hazardous by-products will be produced, it may still not be possible to burn it. Along with any national environmental legislation in place, Local Authorities may also have implemented certain restrictions such as forbidding the emission of smoke, so it is important to be aware of all regulations that apply before undertaking any burning of waste or other materials.



Benefits of Waste Incineration

Despite its drawbacks, there are also a number of benefits with regards to waste incineration. Along with the fact that incinerating waste negates the need for large areas of land to be used as it does for a landfill site, by not allowing rubbish to decompose there will not be vast quantities of methane released into the atmosphere; a greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming.

Incineration is extremely useful when it comes to the disposal of clinical waste. Items which pose a health risk such as sharp syringes which can contain blood that may be contaminated with a virus, or hazardous biological material, can be burnt which will eliminate the hazard.

Not only does burning waste get rid of it quickly, but the incineration plant can also produce steam which can be used to drive turbines and generate electricity. Although likely to be a small amount, at least it will be a contribution and a little bit less electricity is then needed to be produced which would otherwise be created through burning fossil fuels in all likelihood.



Next Environmental Health And Safety Steps

As environmental considerations and environmental legislation have grown in prominence over the past decade or so, there is now a greater need than ever to assess how your organisation and the actions of your employees affects the local environment. As a result, there are a number of health and safety courses and qualifications which deal with environmental issues. Along with the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate and the NEBOSH Environmental Diploma, many other qualifications now contain elements or units which focus on the environment and the potential impact of workplace activities upon it, including the CITB/ConstructionSkills SMSTS qualification and IOSH Managing Safely courses.

We also provide bespoke environmental health and safety training courses if you have a group of employees requiring training and need a course which is tailored to how their specific actions and workplace activities can be altered to limit their impact upon the environment. For more information, please call us on 0844 800 3295 or send us an online contact form with a brief description of your requirements by clicking on the "Contact" tab at the top of the page.




Related Course

Please see below for more information on the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate:

NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate, or NEBOSH National Certificate in Environmental Management to give it its full title, is an environmental health and safety course which is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who are responsible for managing environmental issues at their workplace.

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate qualification focuses on UK law, so is really only suitable for those who are based and operate within the UK.

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