In this column, Steve Lee, chief executive at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) provides a whistlestop tour of the main legislation relating to commercial and industrial waste.
The really important message is that waste is now, more than ever before, an important bottom-line issue for UK plc. With Landfill Tax set to rise to £80/tonne by 2014/15 waste prevention and recycling can deliver real cost savings.
Waste management is also critical to the long term security of your business in terms of raw materials and resources. As I write, Defra has just published the national Resource Security Action Plan and right up front is the acknowledgement that: “Increasing global demand is leading to strains on supplies of some raw materials, such as those found in high-tech, defence and green technologies, contributing to price and supply pressures. This is a concern for many UK companies.”
Finally, waste management is also about enhancing your reputation and meeting your customers’ expectations by demonstrating sustainable business practices that give you a competitive edge.
“In the main, legislation relating to waste has two primary objectives – protecting the environment and encouraging greater resource efficiency” – Steve Lee, Chief Executive, CIWM
In the main, legislation relating to waste has two primary objectives – protecting the environment and encouraging greater resource efficiency. The key ones to be aware of are:
- Duty of Care Regulations and waste carrier, broker and dealer registration system
- Pre-Treatment Regulations
- Hazardous Waste Regulations for companies that produce certain types of harmful wastes – e.g. acids, batteries, solvents, healthcare waste etc – that have to be subject to tighter controls
- Producer Responsibility Regulations, which now cover packaging, batteries, end of life vehicles and waste electrical and electronic equipment
- Voluntary responsibility deals – as the name indicates these are not regulations but are well worth knowing about and complying with where relevant.The WRAP website can offer advice here as well as relevant trade associations. At present, these voluntary deals cover things like construction, retail, and hospitality waste.
How important are the Duty of Care Regulations and what do they mean for businesses?
Duty of Care is the most basic waste legislation affecting all waste producers. The regime is designed to ensure that waste is properly managed, contained, described, and passed on to an appropriately registered/ permitted person or company so that there is a clear audit trail which protects against waste getting ‘lost’ somewhere in the system and ending up being illegally treated or disposed of. It is supported by the waste carrier, broker and dealer registration system, which is enforced by the Environment Agency. When transferring waste to another party, every business should satisfy itself that the recipient is legitimate by asking to see their Carrier’s Certificate or Environmental Permit.
What are the Pre- Treatment Regulations?
The Pre-Treatment Regulations were introduced to the UK with effect from October 30, 2007 as a provision of the Landfill (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2005, commonly referred to as the Landfill Directive. They place a duty on waste producers to adopt a more sustainable approach to waste management, to divert it from landfill and move it up the ‘waste hierarchy’. In order of preference, options within the hierarchy consist of: waste reduction, reuse, recycling, energy recovery, disposal (landfill).
Implementation of the pretreatment requirement was kept to a simple and ‘light touch’ approach where possible to minimise new burdens on UK business. However, this means that many companies are unaware of the regulations. CIWM believes that better implementation would have helped more companies to realise the often substantial bottom line benefits of adopting more sustainable waste management procedures.