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Defra makes hazardous waste plea

Defra has called on waste firms to shop companies dealing with hazardous waste outside the law, amid concerns that producers are sidestepping legislation.

The department said sham operators would “feel the full force of the law” and that industry intelligence would allow officials to stay one step ahead of “companies who would put profits ahead of safety”.

Concerns about the poor implementation of Defra’s hazardous waste strategy, published two years ago this month, were raised by the Environmental Services Association in MRW last month (MRW, 17 Feb).

The ESA said hazardous waste producers were reluctant to pay the higher cost of dealing with their waste responsibly, while sham operators could afford to offer cheaper rates by not adhering to safety standards.

Key industry figures echoed these fears this week.

Director of hazardous waste services for Veolia Environmental Services, Morgan Toner said the hazardous waste strategy had laid out good principles but they were not being implemented quickly enough.  

The government’s approach was deterring investment in “the UK’s longer term strategic needs” and that the country could face an “infrastructure lag” as a result, he said.  

“The current approach needs better co-ordination,” Toner added, “We do not need further regulation. We need a joined up approach across the whole waste cycle to ensure the best overall environmental options.”

The hazardous waste strategy was published in March 2010 to clarify how the revised Waste Framework Directive should be implemented, particularly the revised waste hierarchy with respect to the management of hazardous waste.

A Defra spokeswoman said this week: “Sham operators will feel the full force of the law, and any further evidence the ESA provides will be useful in making sure we stay one step ahead of any companies who would put profits ahead of safety.”

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