April 2008

New landfill rules mean tougher line in UK

New rules on landfilling waste went into effect five months ago in the UK. The Environment Agency for England and Wales announced it expects the waste management industry, particularly landfill operators, to start taking a tougher line on the waste they accept from businesses for disposal.

Liz Parkes, Head of Waste at the Environment Agency, said, “We’ve been taking a sensible approach to enforcing these new rules, which since October 2007 requires waste to be treated before it is landfilled.

“We accepted that not all businesses would be aware of the rules from day one, so we worked with the industry to raise awareness amongst businesses and encourage them to change their waste management practices. We also allowed landfill operators to accept waste without evidence that it had been treated. This was to allow time for waste producers to change the way they handle their waste.

“The feedback we have had from the waste management industry and business tells us that the system is working well and delivering real environmental benefits. The waste management industry is also telling us they are ready for us to take a tougher line with those who break the rules. So from April 30, we expect landfill operators to obtain written evidence from their customers that waste has been pre-treated.”

The rule changes mean businesses who produce or manage waste going to landfill must check whether it is being treated. If it isn’t, they will need to treat it themselves or ensure that their waste management contractor does this for them.

Treatment can be as simple as separating different wastes at source, and recycling one or more of the separated components. At the same date, liquid wastes were banned from landfill. Businesses who produce liquid waste have had to find alternative disposal methods, often in discussion with their waste management contractor.

Parkes added, “Much of the waste we send to landfill is already treated, however, for some wastes more effort is needed. There are many easy ways for business to treat waste that deliver real environmental benefits.”