Waste management compliance: Are you pouring money down the drain?

Posted on 8 Oct 2021 by The Manufacturer
Partner Content

Waste management isn’t glamorous but it is a necessary part of the manufacturing process. Failure to comply with legislation could see a manufacturer fined and even its owners prosecuted. Add to that the fact that requirements are constantly evolving (for example, with the launch of the French Track Dechets system, and a new Waste Management Plan for England published in January this year), maintaining compliance can be a tricky, time-consuming business. It all begs the question: is there a better way to manage waste?

Whether it is to earn industry accreditations such as ISO standards or simply keep their workers safe and healthy, manufacturers must comply with all manner of legislation. Just keeping up with any changes and ensuring they are always appropriately compliant can cost firms significant amounts of time and money.

For manufacturers, one of the most prominent areas where compliance is crucial is waste management. Firms inevitably produce and handle a variety of different waste as part of their operations. Ensuring that waste is managed correctly is paramount for both worker safety and the environment.

Worse still, non-compliance that results in negative media coverage can lead to a company’s reputation being negatively impacted. If said non-compliance resulted in a person or the environment being harmed, there is also likely to be wider-reaching legal implications.

How confident are you that your business is in compliance 100% when it comes to your waste management responsibilities?

The waste management compliance minefield

Take waste management, for example. The UK government demands that every business in England must:

  • Keep waste to a minimum by preventing, reusing, recycling or recovering (in that order)
  • Sort and store waste safely and securely
  • Complete a waste transfer note for each load of waste that leaves their premises

Now, these are just the basic guidelines that make up a company’s ‘duty of care’ when it comes to business or commercial waste. Requirements for hazardous waste are even more intricate.

For businesses in England, any hazardous waste produced as a result of their operations or handled in the process must cause no harm or damage to anyone or the environment.

Hazardous waste is defined as any waste that could potentially be harmful to people or the environment. Examples of hazardous waste include oils (except edible ones), solvents (often used in cleaning) and chemicals such as brake fluid or printer toner.

It is against the law to knowingly or unknowingly mix hazardous waste with either non-hazardous or other hazardous waste.

But there’s more…

Businesses also have extra requirements depending on whether they are a waste:

  • producer or holder (they produce or store waste)
  • carrier (they collect and transport waste)
  • consignee (they receive waste, such as for recycling or disposal)

There are also additional requirements if a business wants to export waste.

Finally, if a business wants to dispose of its own waste regularly, it must register as a waste carrier. Furthermore, depending on what the business is doing, they could also have to apply for a waste permit from the Environment Agency. This permit can be for activities at one site or for a mobile plant that can be used at many sites.

Carrying out certain waste operations without a permit could result in a business breaking the law.

All of the requirements briefly outlined above are just for businesses in England. There is separate guidance for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This means a business with operations spread across these regions would need to adhere to different rules per site.

The ramifications of non-compliance can be enormous

With so many rules and regulations governing waste management, as well as updates and new guidance being published from time to time, it can be difficult for manufacturers to simply keep up with the changes, let alone ensure they are 100% in compliance.

However, the ramifications of non-compliance can be enormous. Besides the risk posed to a company’s employees and the environment of not disposing of waste correctly, there are also significant penalties.

In the UK, fines of more than £1m have been slapped on companies that were illegally storing hazardous waste and the directors in charge imprisoned. Overseas, penalties have been even greater. In June 2013, Wal-Mart was fined $82m for illegally dumping hazardous waste.

Could your business withstand such enormous financial consequences?

A better way to manage your waste

Fortunately, manufacturers do not need to navigate the waste management minefield alone and run the risk of falling foul of sprawling legal requirements.

By taking advantage of such services, businesses not only ensure they remain compliant at all times, but also save themselves significant amounts of time and money in the process. That’s because the waste management company will take care of all the associated paperwork and compliance requirements as part of the process.

How the process works (in a nutshell):

  1. Waste management company conducts a site survey
  2. All waste is consigned, labelled and documented before being collected, transported and stored
  3. Electronic documents are emailed over after collection
  4. Waste is safely stored at one of the company’s licensed locations
  5. Waste is transferred and processed in accordance with government guidelines

But more than that, according to research by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, spent parts washer solvents normally account for the single largest waste source for workshops. And this means that a parts cleaning service that includes compliant waste management as a core element has the potential to provide huge improvements to any business using it.

With every aspect of the waste management process taken care of, from waste collection and transportation to the handling and storage of hazardous waste and disposal, businesses have constant peace of mind and can focus on their core activities.

Is your parts cleaning an accident waiting to happen?. Image courtesy of Safetykleen

Waste management services in action

Evoqua Water Technologies helps thousands of companies daily meet their needs for clean water. To create and deliver clean water for its customers, Evoqua requires a reliable partner to handle its hazardous waste and spill response.

By partnering with Safetykleen to look after its waste management, Evoqua has realised a number of benefits. The firm no longer has to spend time ensuring all its required legal documentation relating to its duty of care responsibilities is in order. Furthermore, through a tailored training programme, Evoqua has earned ISO 45001 and 9001 accreditations, an important feat for the firm’s core business values.

About Safetykleen

Safetykleen International is the world’s leading provider of parts washers, surface treatment and chemical application services. Founded in 1973, the company has almost 50 years of experience offering a wide range of solutions to address the needs of manufacturers globally.

Operating in 11 European countries, including the UK, the company has over 2,500 employees and provides parts cleaning services that can support a huge range of customer requirements across many different manufacturing sectors.

For more information, visit Safetykleeninternational.com/