Firms contest UK stance on waste oil burning

Planned new controls on burning of waste lubricating oils by the asphalt industry in England and Wales will create more environmental problems than they solve, the sector has alleged. Britain's quarry products association (QPA) called on the government to review its "seriously flawed policy".

The asphalt industry takes about half the 400,000 tonnes of waste lubricating oils arising in the UK each year, using it as a fuel to dry and heat roadstone. Government plans to impose new permitting and emission requirements put this beneficial use at risk and could lead to “major increases in illegal dumping”, the industry maintains.

At issue are government plans to consider this fuel as waste, as a result of which installations burning it will be governed by the 2000 EU waste incineration directive. The row has reached boiling point now because a key implementation deadline under the directive is looming.

From 28 December, “existing” incineration plants (over three years old) in all EU member states will become subject to the law’s requirements. The UK government is requiring affected installations to seek permits even earlier, by 31 March.

QPA claims that the costs of fitting and operating required new pollution controls will force the industry to switch to virgin fuel oil. This will actually produce an increase in air pollution, it claims. It will also “destroy” Europe’s “most efficient collection system” for used lubricating oils.

So far, the UK environment ministry is refusing to budge. “Companies have had four years to prepare for these changes,” it told Environment Daily. If asphalt firms stop burning waste oils, “there is plenty of demand… from other sectors – notably the cement and steel industries”, it added.

Republished with permission of Environment Daily

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