Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Chemical recycling for recycling and reprocessing businesses

Chemical recycling for recycling and reprocessing businessesChemical recycling for recycling and reprocessing businesses

What you must do

If you manufacture, import or use any chemical substances, preparations or articles you must comply with the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulation.

If you make a product from waste by recovering a chemical substance in quantities of one tonne per year or more, the REACH Regulations may apply to you.

Does your recycling and reprocessing business need a permit, licence or exemption?

If you store, handle, transport, treat, recover, reuse or recycle waste chemicals, you must hold a waste management licence or an exemption and you must meet your requirements under the duty of care.

Duty of Care: Your waste responsibilities

Most chemicals are classified as hazardous/special waste. You must follow regulations for dealing with hazardous/special waste.

Hazardous / special waste

You must not make any discharge to surface water or groundwater without consulting your environmental regulator. If you discharge without an authorisation, permit or consent from your environmental regulator you could be prosecuted and fined or imprisoned.

Preventing water pollution

You must not discharge trade effluent to a public sewer without trade effluent consent or a trade effluent agreement with your water and sewerage company or authority. If you discharge without a consent or agreement you could be prosecuted and fined or imprisoned.

Trade effluent - managing liquid wastes

You must ensure that your activities do not cause land, air or water pollution.

Contaminated land

Oil storage

Chemical storage

Storage and transport

Ensure you use colour coded bins, storage compartments, drums and containers for waste chemicals. These must be secure, weatherproof, waterproof, flame resistant, shockproof and leak proof. Use centralised waste segregation and collection facilities. This minimises the risk of employees placing waste in the wrong containers and contaminating other wastes.

Do not mix hazardous/special waste with non hazardous/special waste. Segregate acids and alkalis, spent reactant solutions, catalysts, process liquors, filter cakes, organic solvents and aqueous washings by their chemical content. This makes storage safer, and makes them easier to recycle.

Use Safety Data Sheets to describe the waste chemicals you transport for recycling, incineration or disposal. Ensure all containers are labelled.

Waste storage and transport

Solvent recovery systems

If you use solvent recovery systems, such as condensers or adsorption columns in process vent extraction systems, or separation techniques such as distillation and centrifuging, you must comply with solvent emissions regulations.

Solvent emissions

Regularly check all vessel seals, lids, filling pipes, valves and condensers for leaks, and record and repair any faults promptly.

Implement a solvent management plan. This should identify the volumes of solvent you use, solvent recovery technologies, and alternatives to reduce your use of organic solvents, eg water based solvents.

Photographic chemicals

Trade effluent is any liquid waste you discharge from your business.

Before you discharge trade effluent into a public sewer you must have a trade effluent consent or enter into a trade effluent agreement with your water or sewerage company or authority. You must comply with the conditions of your consent or agreement.

Trade effluent - managing liquid wastes

Water UK: Contact your water company

Scotland on Tap: Water and sewerage providers in Scotland

You must use a registered recycling contractor for treating and recovering silver from developing baths, developer and activator solutions, fixer solutions, photoprocessing rinse waters, bleach and bleach fixer solutions.

Good practice

Use chemical recovery techniques to recover reactants and by-products from your solutions and effluents. These techniques include precipitation, electrochemical recovery, reverse osmosis and ultra filtration.

Install filter presses to dewater your filter cakes. This reduces disposal costs and transportation emissions. You may also be able to recover chemicals from the filter cakes and adjust the pH to further reduce your disposal costs. You should send filter cakes to specialist contractors for chemical recovery.

Use solvents and bio cleaners that have a low volatile organic compound (VOC) content.

Send your spent catalysts to specialist contractors for treatment and recovery of valuable metals.

Use 'fast reactors' instead of stirred tank reactors. This will maximise your efficiency and minimise your raw materials use and aqueous wastes.

Improve your mixing vessel design to eliminate blind spots during reaction and product separation. This will reduce waste.

Consider using software navigation systems to ensure you can track the progress of chemicals during transport

The Chemical Industries Association offers advice and support to businesses involved in the chemicals sector.

Chemical Industries Association

Read about More waste treatment processes on NetRegs

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