July 2005

Hazardous waste: the rules have changed

London— Defra and the waste industry have teamed up to urge businesses to know the facts on new hazardous waste regulations before they come into force this July.

Government and the waste industry are asking businesses to check the facts and be prepared for how the legislation may impact on their business. Ben Bradshaw, Minister for Local Environmental Quality, said: “It is essential that businesses act now. With many businesses finding themselves hazardous waste producers for the first time, the full implications of the new controls may not be yet fully appreciated.

“Tailored advice on how to handle your waste is at hand from your waste contractor and the Environment Agency. Further support and waste minimization advice is available from Envirowise, who are already working with a range of businesses to help them cut down on its production in the first place.”

Because of their chemical content, some everyday household and businesses items such as computer monitors, televisions and fluorescent tubes have joined the list of toxic, corrosive and irritant substances and materials like asbestos, waste oils and industrial chemicals under the ‘hazardous’ banner.

Small businesses, in particular - and even some larger ones - will now find themselves producing hazardous waste for the first time.

As of July 16, 2005, new standards - the waste acceptance criteria (WAC) - will have to be met by all hazardous waste being disposed of to landfill. Businesses will have to be able to describe exactly what their waste contains. This ‘characterization’ will determine what can be done to minimize it, ease its recovery or ensure its safe disposal.

Usually this will involve discussions with waste contractors and/or landfill operators. As businesses that produce hazardous waste will have to ensure that the waste going to landfill meets the WAC, an assessment at an early stage is essential.

Regulations have been brought in to improve the tracking and safe management of hazardous waste in England, from the producer to the disposal or treatment facility. These new controls will include a requirement for most producers of hazardous waste to notify their premises to the Environment Agency.


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