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UK businesses unaware of incoming waste treatment laws, warns waste expert

A waste expert has warned that UK businesses are unaware of new waste treatment laws which come into force on October 31 2007, which could make recycling avoidance illegal. After discussing the regulations with key organisations, financial advisers Grant Thorntons Government and Infrastructure Advisory team said that it was clear that UK businesses were unaware of the changes. Under the Environment Agencys (EA) new rules all businesses will have to treat their own non-hazardous waste before disposal and demonstrate this with 'pre-treatment forms'. Landfill operators will also have to show that any waste they accept from businesses has been treated. Grant Thornton director and waste specialist Nigel Mattravers said the majority of UK companies were not prepared for the change, and could incur EA penalties. He added that this was a "slow burner" type of regulation that would gather momentum and that it was a step towards making recycling avoidance illegal. "Over the past 12 months every man and his dog have been making noises about becoming greener, but we have a major piece of legislation coming into force that supports this and it is virtually ignored. It isn't just manufacturers that will now have to treat their own non-hazardous waste before collection; every business in the country, including high street retailers, city offices and country pubs must now produce reports on how they have treated their waste. "While we won't see the recycling police here any time soon, the regulations will force every business in the UK to think much more seriously about their waste streams." The EA has indicated the policing of these regulations will be from the top down and confirmed that falsified pre-treatment forms could result in prosecutions. The landfill operator may also be prosecuted for not examining the waste properly. Mattravers added: "What is most vague is how heavily these rules will be enforced, and whether the EA is planning to get tougher over time. It may be that landfills are left with much of the responsibility, as it is easier to penalise a central operator than try and go after individual waste producers."

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