New waste regulation comes with high price tag

Complying with new regulations covering the disposal of hazardous waste is going to cost companies thousands of pounds - but the bill is better than the penalties for not meeting obligations.

This was the message of the seminar Hazardous Waste: Meeting New Requirements in 2005 delivered by Sam Corp of the Environmental Services Association and Jason Stringer of waste giant Biffa at ET2005 in Birmingham this week.

The speakers looked at the Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) and new Hazardous Waste Regulations, set to come into force on July 16.

They highlighted a number of difficulties with the scheme, including the current lack of landfill sites able to take hazardous waste.

Overall, however, both were optimistic that companies could meet the regulations’ standards, but at a cost.

Mr Corp warned the regulations are going to mean more paperwork and a bigger bill for industry.

“The total cost of disposal will rise from the current figure of £30 to £50 per tonne to around £120 to £150 tonne as it must be pre-treated,” he said.

“The costs of getting it right are high but the costs of getting it wrong are even higher.”

As well as the costs associated with the administration of WAC and paid per consignment of hazardous waste, companies producing hazardous waste will now be required to monitor their waste and report its content.

This looks set to be a costly process, with sampling and testing costing £200 a shot and multiple samples necessary before a waste stream can be properly classified.

The new regulations will also see a more detailed definition of types of hazardous waste, outlining 18 distinct categories from pharmaceuticals to explosives.

Different types of hazardous waste will now have to be separated at source, potentially a further financial blow for producers.

They also widen the net and include new products such as CRT tubes from televisions and fluorescent lights as hazardous.

Mr Stringer said disposal was an expensive business and companies should not assume a waste was hazardous and incur unnecessary costs.

“The first question people should ask themselves is ‘is a waste really hazardous and if it is do we really need to keep producing it?’,” he said.

Firms needed to look at ways of reducing their waste to save themselves money and an administrative headache, he added.

Biffa has set up a helpline, 0800 0283484, offering free advice on the regulations and what they mean for companies.

He said landfill operators would have responsibility for the bulk of the administration but producers of the waste would also be committing an offence if they did not register with the Environment Agency and ensure each consignment of waste was properly documented.

Jason reassured edie the regulations would not have to great an impact on individuals putting out domestic rubbish.

“Obviously they will have to separate their waste but people do not need to register just to put out their old telly or fluorescent tubes,” he said.

Contractors collecting a consignment of domestic hazardous waste will need to be registered, of course, but householders themselves will be exempt.

by Sam Bond

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