New waste rules come into force

At the end of the month, amendments to the Landfill Directive will require changes to the way in which you dispose of your waste. Do you understand your obligations?
Tom Idle

From October 30, a new law kicks in which will require all waste producers to do some form of waste treatment before sending rubbish off to landfill.

The new requirements are part of the latest implementation of the EU Landfill Directive. And they are designed to increase waste recycling among businesses, which will now have to demonstrate that their waste has undergone some form of treatment. After October 30, landfill will no longer be able to accept waste that has not been treated.

So, what does the legislation mean by treated? Your waste will only be considered treated waste if it has undergone a physical, thermal, chemical or biological process that changes the characteristics of the waste. The objective is to reduce the volume and hazardousness of the waste, facilitate its handling and also to enhance its potential for recovery.

Separating some of your general waste stream for recycling is therefore an acceptable form of pre-treatment. You can do this yourself as an organisation, or get a waste contractor to do it for you.

So, if you already sort out your glass, plastics and metal and keep them separate from your other waste, you are already meeting the new requirements. But it should be noted that just squashing your cardboard boxes does not quality as treatment.

For waste streams where segregation is not possible, more complex forms of treatment will be required. You should consider thermal treatment such as incineration, or mechanical biological treatment or anaerobic digestion. Contacting your local waste management contractor is probably the best option.

The new regulations apply to any organisation that sends waste to landfill. If you are unsure of your current arrangements, again contact the waste contractor to be on the safe side.

So, who is responsible? The legal obligation for ensuring that untreated waste does not end up in landfill is the landfill operator. But, as a waste producer, and as part of your Duty of Care, you are expected to either:

  • Treat your own waste and provide information about the treatment for subsequent holders of the waste
  • Ensure that your waste will be treated by a subsequent holder before it is landfilled

So you are not obliged to treat your own waste. You can get somebody else to do it.

If you do decide to treat your rubbish yourself, you will have to provide the necessary documentation – perhaps as part of the waste transfer note, or on a separate declaration of evidence.

In the last budget, it was announced that the landfill tax escalator, currently £3 a tonne, would increase to £8 a tonne each year from April 2008. This means landfill tax will rise to £32 a tonne next year from its current £24, and by 2010, will cost £48 a tonne.

Recycling your waste will not only help you meeting the new pre-treatment requirements, it will also save plenty of money in the long run.

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