Press Release from Howard Gosling – September 2004

Hazardous Changes Are Here

Businesses who create hazardous waste in the water sector need to be aware of recent changes in the management of hazardous waste.  There are legal obligations to handle it safely and responsibly and to only give it to properly licensed waste carriers and waste facilities.

For many years the UK has used landfills to dispose of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste cheaply and easily. Such wastes have often been disposed of together in the same landfill.

I can remember over twenty-five years ago when empty containers of Voxsan A Sodium Hypochlorite went to a hazardous waste site but because it was filling up so quickly it was deemed that so long as they were washed out before disposal then the containers could just go to ordinary landfill.

The practice of co-disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste has been banned from 16th July 2004. Moreover from that date, all hazardous waste requires treatment before it is landfilled.

The new rules will affect not only the operators of landfill sites but also producers of hazardous wastes.

Whereas there were over 200 landfill sites authorised to accept hazardous waste in England and Wales previously, under the new more onerous regulations there is only a handful of such sites and at present I understand there are none at all in Wales.

The lost of landfill capacity is going to have a significant affect on many businesses. The advice from the Environment Agency is as follows:

  1. Check whether your waste is hazardous using Environment Agency Guidelines at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/wm2
  2. Know where you hazardous waste is going. Mismanagement of waste, particularly hazardous waste, has the potential to harm the environment and human health. Businesses have a legal duty of care to ensure that their hazardous waste is passed to someone who has the authority to handle such, as registered waste carriers, or properly authorised waste management facilities. If in doubt, check their authorisation or with the Environment Agency on 0800 807 060. Failure to do so might result in your waste being illegally handled or fly tipped and that could lead to prosecution of your business as well as the fly tipper.
  3. Explore options to reduce the amount of hazardous waste you produce. The handling, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste is expensive. However hazardous waste minimisation, including substituting hazardous materials for non-hazardous materials, provides a real opportunity to reduce cost and improve efficiencies. The Enviro-wise programme offers small businesses a free and confident “fast track” waste minimisation audit to get you started. Envirowise advisers can help on a wide range of environmental issues including hazardous wastes. Its Environment and Energy Helpline is freephone 0800 585794 or via the website www.envirowise.gov.uk
  4. Budget for rising costs for the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste. With more stringent treatment of hazardous waste and fewer places to dispose of it, costs for hazardous waste disposal are bound to rise. Incidentally, it is estimated that the cost of managing hazardous waste will rise in the UK from 150 million to 500 million per annum.
  5. Keep up to date - recent changes have resulted in more wastes becoming hazardous. For some businesses this may mean it will become a hazardous waste producer for the first time, as hazardous waste classification encompasses a broader range of equipment and materials than ever before.

Clear regulatory and good practice advice on environmental issues for small businesses, tailored for their industry sector, can be found at www.netregs.gov.uk

If you are having difficulty in finding a home for a particular type of hazardous waste, please contact the Environment Agency on 08708 506 506.