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EA concerned over misclassification of hazardous waste

The Environment Agency has expressed concern that some waste managers are misclassifying hazardous waste and has promised new criteria next year.

Mat Crocker Environment Agency

In a letter to the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), Mat Crocker, deputy director of Waste and Illegals at the EA, left, said a number of companies were using outdated information for their waste assessments, leading to hazardous materials being mismanaged.

“This could pose a serious risk to people and the environment, as well as undermining those waste businesses who are correctly assessing and classifying their wastes,” said Crocker.

The EA will introduce new hazardous waste criteria next year. This will have a minimal impact on companies that have up to date procedures and a larger effect on businesses that are already making mistakes, according to Crocker.

He said the most common problems were related to companies not referring to the latest version of the EA technical guidance WM2, now in its third edition. The agency updates such document every two years.

Companies were also making mistakes in relation to the classification of chemicals, especially in terms of estimating the risk posed by the handling of some substances alone or mixed together.

Steve Lee, chief executive at CIWM, encouraged waste managers to review their practices in light of the EA warning.

“The EA is quite rightly working collaboratively with industry organisations to get the message out and as the professional body for the waste and resources sector, CIWM is committed to supporting its efforts to tackle these misclassification issues.”

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