More hazardous waste is collected
According to Statistics Norway a total of almost 1.2 million tonnes of hazardous waste was handled in compliance with approved treatment in 2012. This is about the same amount as the year before.
Overall there has been a significant growth in the recorded amounts of hazardous waste since 1999. Much of the increase is due to improved collection, and a considerable extention of the list of hazardous waste. More oil-contaminated hazardous waste from the offshore oil and gas industry is also taken ashore instead of being injected into the underground.
In addition the data basis has improved. The real growth in waste amounts is therefore less than the statistics suggest.
Less hazardous waste is handled in unknown ways
Statistics Norway calculates that around 60 000 tonnes of hazardous waste was handled in unknown ways in 2012. This estimate is somewhat uncertain.
Some of this waste may have been mixed with non-hazardous waste, discharged into the sewers or dumped directly into the environment. However, hazardous waste that is delivered for approved treatment is not always registered correctly. The Norwegian Environment Agency therefore believes that parts of the 60 000 tonnes may still have been handled in approved treatment facilities.
Since the peak in 2004, the quantity of hazardous waste treated in unknown ways in Norway has declined by 46 per cent. The main causes are increased collection of oil-contaminated hazardous waste and less creosote-containing wood going astray. In 2012, the quantity of hazardous waste treated in unknown ways, was less than five percent.
It also appears that households have become better at delivering hazardous waste for approved treatment. According to Statistics Norway, the households delivered 39 000 tonnes in 2012, an increase of 7000 tonnes from the previous year.
Spread of hazardous chemicals
Hazardous waste contains substances that are harmful to health and the environment. Hazardous waste can spread harmful substances and accumulate in the environment via leachate of contaminated water from landfills, or via emissions from the flue gases, ash or slag from incineration plants. Hazardous waste which is disposed of in the drains may lead to dispersal of harmful substances in the environment
When hazardous waste is collected and treated in a proper manner, the spreading of hazardous substances in the environment is avoided.
The share classified as hazardous waste increases
Today we have better knowledge of the hazardous properties of substances and what products they are used in than earlier. This has led to an increase in the amounts of waste that are classified as hazardous waste.
Volume of hazardous waste linked to growth in consumption
The volume of waste in a society is closely related to its level of consumption. A growth in consumption often translates into a growth in waste. It also means more hazardous waste, especially waste from consumer products. The amounts of hazardous waste generated are also closely related to developments in business and industry. In Norway, we have experienced a considerable increase in the amounts of hazardous waste generated by the offshore industry.
Promoting sound management
A number of measures are employed to promote proper handling of hazardous waste. These include:
- special regulations
- inspections and audits
- industry-specific schemes
- return schemes
- taxes and information
Under the Pollution Control Act the competent Norwegian authorities have issued regulations concerning hazardous waste. These define waste categories and lay down rules for permits to manage hazardous waste, the obligation to deliver hazardous waste, declaration, the responsibilities of the municipalities, packaging, inspection and audit.
Many other provisions govern specific types of hazardous waste and associated problems, including batteries, waste oil, oily water, photographic chemicals, amalgam, PCBs, CFCs, brominated flame retardants, fire and explosion hazards, the export and import of hazardous waste and chemicals in general.
Permits and licences
A permit is normally required from the competent pollution control authorities before a contractor may process hazardous waste. The Environment Agency issues permits for collection and processing of hazardous waste, whilst the County Governor issues permits for the reception and temporary storage of hazardous waste. The permits specify criteria that must be met to ensure proper handling.
Control and inspection
The pollution control authorities supervise and inspect all handling of hazardous waste.
Various industry-specific schemes and taxes are also used for hazardous waste. One provides a refund when waste oil is delivered to approved facilities. Another is an auto-industry return scheme for lead accumulators and old insulating windows containing PCB.
Another example is the return schemes that provide consumers free delivery of electrical/electronic (EE) waste. Consumers have the right to deliver their personal computers, mobile telephones and so on to the distributors free of charge. The distributors of such products are obliged to collect them. The harmful components are seperated for special collection.