Widespread abuse of a rule that allows mixed waste with a 10% plasterboard content to be sent to landfill could be withdrawn by April 2009.
The Environment Agency said it will revise guidance to remove the 10% guideline value in a leaked position statement seen by MRW.
The statement said: If gypsum waste is accepted for disposal in the same cell as biodegradable waste, we will take enforcement action.
However, waste management company Recyclet director Alastair Sherry told MRW that widespread exploitation of the rule had seen waste companies dumping more than the 10% mixed plasterboard content allowed in landfill because it was cheaper than regulator approved monocell disposal.
He said: The Winterton monocell site near Scunthorpe charges £137 a tonne for plasterboard but landfill is much less at £2.50 a tonne.
He also said that a lack of access to monocell sites across the UK had exacerbated the problem. He named the worst parts of the UK for dumping plasterboard as the north east of England and West Yorkshire and also said that west London was not great. If a region has a lot of landfill sites, like West Yorkshire, it encourages waste companies to abuse the system, said Sherry.
He said the EA was looking at offenders with the view to bringing enforcement action to make an example of the worst companies.
Sherry said he believed the EA had been threatened by the EU with a big fine [if the issue was not dealt with], so theyve accelerated into unnecessary and unique haste. The changes were like retrospective legislation.
However, in its leaked statement, the EA said it was revising its guidance because of research into the sulphurous gases produced when gypsum mixed with other wastes degrades. It said the findings meant the EA could not set a practical limit for gypsum wastes.