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Businesses ignoring the waste hierachy, warns consultancy

Consultancy Eunomia has expressed concern that too many companies are failing to apply the waste hierarchy due to lack of enforcement by the Environment Agency (EA).

Eunomia, one of the UK’s largest sustainability consultants, said it had received very few enquiries from businesses regarding how to comply with the waste hierarchy since it was introduced as Regulation 12 of the Waste Regulation 2011.


Senior consultant Peter Jones (left) and head of London office Sam Taylor (below), writing in a blog post on Isonomia, said companies felt the EA had insufficient funds to enforce those not complying.

“The obvious conclusion is that the waste hierarchy is widely being ignored. As a result, some businesses will be missing out on significant environmental and economic benefits, while others are potentially putting any rivals that do strive to apply the hierarchy properly at a commercial disadvantage.


“The failure of many businesses to apply the waste hierarchy is not merely a lapse in form filling: it holds back progress on recycling, and can mean that organisations miss out on the chance to save money.

“If the EA finds the resources to act, it will come as a shock to some waste producers and collectors, but one that they can and should be prepared for.”

The pair argue that the EA could combine enforcement in the future with the TEEP test.

Regulation 12 requires anyone who handles waste to “take all such measures available as are reasonable in the circumstances” to apply the priority order:

  • Prevention
  • Preparation for reuse
  • Recycling
  • Energy recovery
  • Disposal

The EA has been contacted for a response.

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