A new and shorter version of a guide to help organisations determine what can be classed as waste has received a mixed response from the industry.
The advice for businesses, local authorities and charities has been greatly reduced from its 69-page original, published in 2012, into a long single page that is viewable online.
Environment departments from the UK, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments have put it together under a requirement to condense guidance and avoid each administration publishing the same information separately.
The Environmental Services Association (ESA) said the guidance should help businesses to work out whether they are producing waste, but warned that it had to be publicised to them in the first place.
Head of regulation Sam Corp said: “Clearly, it is important for businesses to understand the distinction, and to be aware that if you do produce a ‘waste’ you are responsible under Duty of Care legislation for ensuring its correct management and disposal.
“Unfortunately, research has shown that the majority of SME waste-producing businesses are simply not aware that they have obligations under waste law.
“It is for this reason that ESA launched the ’Right Waste Right Place’ campaign which aims to raise awareness of Duty of Care responsibilities.”
Figures across different industries consulted by Defra ahead of the guidance’s publication had expressed concern that it lacked useful examples for businesses, according to 360 Environmental director Phil Conran.
Three example situations are given at the top of the guidance covering mixed household waste, scrap metal and soil. But there are no cases for more problematic materials such as waste electrical and electronic equipment.
“I do not think it helps with the process and, actually, I think it is a backwards step from the guidance we had before,” said Conran. ”Before we had a flow-chart and we don’t have that now. There’s not a step-by-step guide that takes you through a process.”