News from Industrial Environmental Management

Environment Agency's priorities for 2000; Prescott told that UK air quality is getting worse; Study shows that waste minimisation schemes are working; Trend toward pre-treatment of municipal solid waste predicted; First UK case of mandatory removal of illegally-dumped waste; and more.

Environment Agency’s plans for 2000

The Environment Agency’s (EA) corporate plan for 2000/01 was released last month. The plan reviews 1998/99 priorities and outlines priority action for 1999/2000. Amongst these are proposals to implement a variety of IPPC-related actions including continued CO2 reductions via IPPC, introducing IPPC with all support systems in place, and bringing early sectors into IPPC regulation in line with the Department of Environment Transport and the Regions timetable. Other priorities include: completion of the national waste survey; a landfill-methane reduction programme; and reporting annual emissions of NAQS substances from 1 January 2000.

Prescott told that UK air quality is getting worse, not better

The National Society for Clean Air has written to John Prescott challenging his recent claims that air quality in the UK is improving. In the letter to Mr Prescott, NSCA chairman Liz Solkhon says: “We are concerned that the Government is backsliding on its commitment to clean air for all.” The Society is using as evidence the DETR’s own statistics from its website at dailystats/index.html. The NSCA say that the results from UK monitoring stations show 4,300 exceedences of the National Air Quality so far this year (see related story).

EC study highlights successes in waste minimisation

A report for the European Commission’s Environment Department (DGXI) states that “good examples for waste minimisation can be found everywhere in the 15 member states”. The report, from the Institute of Applied Ecology, concludes that the environmental benefits of waste minimisation at source are often enormous. At the local level, the report found that case studies demonstrate that most waste minimisation activities pay off economically, often even in the short term. The studies also show that regional and local authorities often have a leading role in waste management planning, particularly with regard to prevention and minimisation of waste flows in the municipal waste sector.

European trend towards pre-treatment of waste identified

“Across Europe, rising public awareness, eco-taxes and both national and EU legislation are driving national waste management strategies in favour of pre-treatment of municipal solid waste (MSW),” according to a study of the market for raw material used by waste-to-energy plants by Frost & Sullivan (F&S). A total of approximately 40m tonnes of MSW was thermally treated in Europe in 1998 in a total of around 295 waste to energy plants, the study found. The issue of reducing prices in the MSW marketplace was identified. “The restricted opportunities for price increases due to the fierce nature of competition in the marketplace, combined with regional problems of over-supply,” the report states will reduce the cost of MSW to waste-to-energy plants. According to Louise Pitts, Research Manager at F&S, the market drivers for the next millennium include: “National bans on landfill without pre-treatment, clamp-downs on illegal practices, and rising waste volumes.”

First UK case forcing removal of illegally-dumped waste

The Environment Agency has welcomed what is believed to be the first mandatory injunction issued by an English court to require the removal of illegally-dumped waste. The order stipulates that the defendants should only carry out work to clear the site during normal working hours and that an independent analysis must be commissioned to assess any residual pollution on the affected site after the waste has been removed.

Industry is being let off the IPPC hook, says waste industry

“Major industrial installations are being let off the environmental hook by DETR plans to implement the Integrated Pollution, Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive,” according to the Environmental Services Association, a trade association for companies providing waste management and related environmental services. The current IPPC regime’s control of 2,000 facilities will be increased to 5,000 UK industrial installations under IPPC. The waste management sector will account for about one-third of these installations. Dirk Hazell, Chief Executive, ESA said: “IPPC is supposed to be about integrated pollution control standards. At the very least there should be a level playing field between waste management and other industrial installations, whose operators may well have less expertise than our members but whose capacity to damage the environment could be considerable.” The waste management sector has a longer experience of aspects of integrated pollution control than some other industrial sectors, believes Hazell. “Why not make all 5,000 installations meet the same rigorous protection standards” he said. The opportunity to comment on the fourth general consultation on The Pollution Prevention Control Act closed last month. The DETR are currently assessing their response.

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