Environment Agency pledges to target waste crime

The Environment Agency has announced that it will be targeting waste crime following the ban on the co-disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes at landfill sites on 16 July 2004. In Management of hazardous waste following the ban on co-disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes at landfill, the Environment Agency outlines its priorities for enforcing the ban and highlights that legal changes will not just affect landfill operators, but also producers of hazardous waste.

The statement confirms that priority will be given to activities involving hazardous waste that have the potential to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health. Specifically the Agency will normally take enforcement action where:

  • hazardous waste is disposed of at unlicensed sites
  • hazardous waste is mis-described as non-hazardous waste or deliberately mixed with non-hazardous waste in an attempt to reclassify it as non-hazardous.
  • hazardous waste liquid waste is accepted for disposal at a landfill.

    Liz Parkes, Head of Waste Regulation at the Environment Agency, said: “Every person or business dealing with waste has a legal obligation to handle it safely and responsibly, and to only give it to someone who is properly authorised.
    “The Environment Agency will be focussing its normal compliance checks on those areas where we can have the greatest impact, in preventing the mismanagement of hazardous waste which would otherwise have a negative impact on the environment and public health.

    “Tougher standards under the Landfill Directive are forcing a step change in the way we manage waste in this country and will reduce our reliance on landfills.”
    Commenting during the run up to the deadline, Liz Parkes added: “The number of landfills available for hazardous waste in particular will drastically reduce after 16 July. There is evidence that responsible waste producers are looking for alternatives.

    “We are closely monitoring the situation and will be targeting key waste streams, such as asbestos and contaminated soil, with particular scrutiny during this period of change. We are committed to cracking down hard on illegal dumping and expect the courts to do the same, particularly where hazardous waste is involved.”
    Business are being urged by the Environment Agency to follow a five-point plan to minimise the risk of illegal waste management and to reduce the impact of the new rules on their business:

    Companies are advised to check whether their waste is hazardous using Environment Agency guidance at: www.environment-agency.gov.uk/wm2
    Key areas of advice concern:

  • know where your hazardous waste is going.
  • explore options to reduce the amount of hazardous waste being produced.
  • budget for rising costs for hazardous waste management.
  • keep up to date with further changes to hazardous waste legislation.

    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
    The Envirowise Programme offers small businesses a free and confidential “fastrack” waste minimisation audit to get companies started. Envirowise advisors can help on a range of environmental issues, including hazardous waste. Its Environment and Energy helpline is Freephone 0800 585794 or via the website www.envirowise.gov.uk
    Trade associations may also be able to provide advice.

    Companies having difficulty in finding a home for a particular type of hazardous waste, are advised to contact the Environment Agency on 0845 9333111.
    Failure to comply with the co-disposal ban is an offence under the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002 and carries a maximum sentence of five-years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

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