Waste companies need to make sure producers know they must prove they’ve thought about product end-of-life, according to Wastecare managing director Peter Hunt.
The Waste Regulations for England and Wales changes the hierarchy for handling waste as of 29 September, and will mean that all businesses must take more responsibility for their waste. However, awareness of this outside of the waste industry is low.
Hunt, who heads up the Wastecare waste management company, said: “The hierarchy emphasises that the customer has to be more thoughtful with what he does with his waste. It’s vital that he works with the waste provider so he doesn’t clash or reinvent the wheel.
“Above all, the new requirements will make it virtually illegal to send any waste to landfill that could have been dealt with in an alternative, more responsible manner.”
Under the new regulations, companies will need to know the type and quantities of waste produced, the EWC Codes and where it goes. Waste must be segregated so it is easier to recover value from.
They will need to apply the waste hierarchy and prove that they have looked into the recycling, prevention and re-use. If waste, for example, is currently landfilled and it is “reasonably possible” to recycle it, then this must be done.
Records of all this activity must be kept for inspection by the Environment Agency. Failure to do this is likely result in a fine or prosecution. Companies will also have to sign a declaration on the Waste Transfer Note that you have applied the waste hierarchy. The regulations include a new hazardous waste category H13a covering “sensitising” – waste that exposure to may cause a person to become sensitive to. Hunt argued this will be tricky to follow as the ‘sensitising nature’ will depend on the quantity in the waste and the effect the surrounding waste may have on it – but companies must be prepared for it.
He added: “It’s a little bit harder for businesses to operate - although we have got a Government promising to reduce pressure on businesses – it is European legislation. However, I don’t think that there are many people who would disagree with the sentiment. What we don’t want to do is lose sight of the aim to minimise our impact on the environment.”
Hunt said Wastecare offers a waste management service, which already complies with the new regulations. Last year it diverted from landfill 91% of the waste it handled. Wastecare also runs several compliance schemes for WEEE, batteries, hazardous waste and packaging.