Hazardous wastes belong to a category of wastes containing specific chemicals, metals and pathogenic micro-organisms, which have the potential to damage the environment. Hazardous waste can have adverse environmental repercussions if not correctly managed through proper treatment, storage, stabilisation and disposal. Preventive measures are required for handling hazardous wastes generated within the country from different sources and through imports from other countries to recover valuable materials. For post-compliance with the waste handling procedures, proper knowledge of handling and management of hazardous wastes is required, and therefore aList of Hazardous Characteristicsbecomes essential in this regard. The importance of restricting the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes is also reflected in the HWM Rules, inspired by the Basel Convention of 1989.
Until 2016, importing hazardous waste from other countries was allowed in the country. However, this practice was discontinued after the Hazardous and Other Wastes Rules 2016 was enacted, which banned the import of specific waste that was deemed hazardous. The 2016 rules laid down a detailed list of characteristics to identify hazardous waste and the standard operating procedure for managing or transboundary movement of such waste. In the following article, we will discuss the List of Hazardous characteristics. By understanding the broad categorisation in the form of a List of Hazardous Characteristics that has been formulated for efficient hazardous waste management as has been based on various hazardous parameters into three classes- Class A, Class B and Class C.
This categorisation is based on the concentration limit of leachable substances, i.e. Soluble Threshold Limit Concentration (STLC) or Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP).
Class B: This List of Hazardous Characteristics is based on Total Threshold Limit Concentration (TTLC).
Class C: This list of Hazardous Characteristics is based on characteristics like
TCLP, STLC and TTLC.
For the sake of this article, we will be discussing Class C in particular. This list will help The occupier or generator of hazardous waste and the operator of a treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF) identify the waste as hazardous or non-hazardous. Let’s understand Category C (C1 to C13), that lists the physical and chemical characteristics for identifying hazardous waste.
Class C1: Flammable
Waste exhibiting flammability or ignitability is categorised as C1. This waste can be in the following forms-
Class C2: Corrosive
A waste exhibits the corrosive characteristic under the list of hazardous characteristics if it has the following features.
Class C3: Reactive or explosive
Waste that exhibits reactivity if its sample has any of the following properties
Class C4: Toxic
A waste is said to be toxic if it shows any of the following characteristics from the list of hazardous characteristics-
Class C5: Substances or Wastes liable to spontaneous combustion
Under the C5 list of Hazardous Characteristics, Substances or Wastes which are susceptible to spontaneous heating under typical conditions encountered in transportation to heating up on contact with air and then becoming liable to catch fire
Class C6: Substances or Wastes which, in contact with water, give out flammable gases
Wastes that, by interaction with water, are liable to become spontaneously combustible or emit flammable gases in dangerous quantities.
Class C5: Oxidizing
Substances or wastes that in themselves are not necessarily combustible but, by yielding oxygen, can cause the combustion of other materials.
Class C8: Organic Peroxides
Organic substances or Wastes which contain the bivalent O−O structure, which may undergo exothermic self-accelerating decomposition
Class C9: Poisons (acute)
Substances or Wastes capable of causing death or severe injury or harming human health if inhaled, swallowed or through skin contact.
Class C10: Infectious
Substances or Wastes containing micro-organisms that are viable or their toxins are known to cause disease in humans or animals.
Class C11: Liberation of toxic gases in contact with water or air
Substances or Wastes which, by interaction with air or water, are liable to emit toxic gases in dangerous quantities.
Class C12: Eco-toxic
Substances or Wastes which, if released, present and cause immediate or delayed adverse impacts to the environment through bioaccumulation or toxic effects upon biotic systems or both
This category includes the List of Hazardous Characteristics that by any means, after disposal, of yielding another material, e.g., leachate, possesses any of the characteristics listed above.
Apart from the List of Hazardous Characteristics, The HWM Rules also identify the following industries as hazardous waste generators.
As India produces approximately 7.46 million metric tonnes of hazardous waste from different sources (industrial waste, e-waste etc.)annually, the list of Hazardous Characteristics becomes particularly difficult to keep track of. Industrial hubs in many states are the leading contributor to such waste. However, many such industrial hubs do not have an adequate capacity to treat, store and dispose off this waste. There for specialised facilities (TSDFs) that can undertake the storage, stabilisation and disposal work on their behalf are the need of the hour. Apart from laying down hazardous waste characteristics, the Hazardous Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 also encourage the reduction of hazardous waste generation by these industries and promote the recycling and reusing of waste products by the industry or through TSDFs.The Rules also specify import and export guidelines to ensure legal waste transport, storage and disposal. This is why it becomes essential to set a defined list of hazardous characteristics for the generators and the occupiers of TSDFs and adequately manage the industry at hand.
Read our Article: Rules Governing The Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste