Hazardous waste proposals now in full effect

A consultation paper outlining new hazardous waste procedures and regulations has been launched this week by the Government.

The paper will bring into effect the provisions of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and Restriction of Certain hazardous Substances (ROHS) directives, and will cover the movement of waste from the producer to the disposal or treatment facility (see related story).

Requirements not to mix hazardous and non-hazardous waste will now be extended to producers, which will help to reduce hazardous waste at source, improve recovery opportunities and lower waste management costs throughout the chain.

Environment Minister Elliot Morley said that the new system and simpler methods for tracking wastes would be beneficial to everyone in the industry: "By providing a streamlined tracking system with site notification, our proposals will allow the Environment Agency (EA) to focus more strongly on tackling hazardous waste at source, provide guidance to producers and target those that do not comply with regulations."

He also added that the introduction of fixed penalties of £200 for non-compliance with specific offences in the regulations would save time and effort pursuing court cases for relatively minor crimes.

The EA welcomed the tighter controls on hazardous waste, but head of waste regulation Liz Parkes urged companies to check what was in their skips (see related story) as business waste such as batteries and computer monitors would now be classed as hazardous and would need appropriate handling and disposal.

"It is vital that businesses think about how the new rules might affect them, what they need to do, whether they will need to register with the EA and if they can cut down on the amount of waste they produce," she said. "Leaving it to the last minute could leave them with a hazardous waste problem."

Both Mr Morley and Ms Parkes were also pleased that the regulations would be able to shift the amount of time dedicated to desk-bound activities at the EA, meaning that more officers could be out protecting the environment at ground level.

By Jane Kettle



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