Environment Agency publishes WAC advice

The Environment Agency has published advice to help clear up confusion surrounding the introduction of the new Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) which come into force later this month.

After July 16 more stringent sampling, testing and treatment of hazardous waste such as contaminated soils and chemical waste will be required before it can be sent to landfill.

Hazardous waste already needs to be segregated and disposed of at specially licensed sites.

But under the new rules, any companies and businesses producing hazardous waste and wanting to send it to landfill will also need to know exactly what it is made up of and whether it meets the WAC.

Landfill operators will be breaking the law if they accept waste that does not meet WAC.

Manufacturers are being urged to do what they can to minimise or avoid producing hazardous waste, treat or clean any waste that is produced to remove hazardous compounds so that it can go to a non-hazardous facility, or finding alternative disposal routes such as incineration.

There are still a small number of hazardous waste streams that do not fit into the WAC framework and will still have to go to landfill.

These include furnace slag from lead-acid battery recycling and used pot liners from aluminium smelting.

In these exceptional circumstances, the guidance sets out additional strict criteria that producers and landfill operators will need to satisfy before the waste is landfilled, until alternative methods of disposal or treatment are put in place.

Despite the EA’s efforts to make industry aware of the imminent change in regulations, there are still many companies which are not ready for the shift.

Liz Parkes, head of waste regulation at the EA said: “While it is disappointing that not everyone is fully prepared for these changes we do applaud those sectors that have been working with us over the last few months to ensure the best solution for the environment.

“We will continue to monitor this very closely with Government to ensure there is no increased risk.

“Companies should try wherever they can to minimise or avoid producing waste that cannot meet the new requirements.

“However, in the very small number of cases where that is not possible, this guidance will help both producers and landfill operators understand what we expect them to do to ensure this waste is handled safely and responsibly.”

Guidance and further information on the new rules can be found on the Environment Agency website.

By Sam Bond

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