Alarm sounds over lax hazardous waste enforcement

Calls are growing for stronger enforcement of hazardous waste management amid concerns that underhand practices are blighting the industry's reputation in dealing with this material stream.

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has published a report calling for concerted action to improve the way hazardous waste is treated in England and Wales.

It warns that the Government’s 2010 hazardous waste strategy is not working and is urging Defra and the Environment Agency to work with the industry to ensure that these failings are addressed.

Commenting on the report, Alex Gazulla of hazardous waste specialists Tradebe, chairman of ESA’s hazardous waste strategy group said that while members were “fully behind” the strategy’s aims, evidence was mounting that it was “not taking effect on the ground”.

“Some of the UK’s hazardous waste is not being handled at state of the art facilities, as the strategy intended,” he maintained.

“This undermines the investment ESA member companies have made in best available technologies for dealing with hazardous wastes, and if unchecked could pose risks to the environment.”

The study makes four key recommendations. These include stronger promotion and enforcement of waste hierarchy guidance for hazardous waste and better data on hazardous waste flows and treatment to achieve an accurate mass balance.

It is also calling for a review by the Environment Agency of permits for hazardous waste treatment to ensure they reflect best available technology and at EU level, action to tackle movements of hazardous waste within the EU which are contrary to the waste hierarchy and the proximity principle.

The ESA document also makes some specific suggestions for improving the treatment of specific types of hazardous waste, including air pollution control residues, contaminated soils, and oily sludges.

Maxine Perella

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