SEPA launches waste management consultation for application of Landfill Directive

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has launched a consultation on guidance on the application of the EU Landfill Directive in Scotland, which advises on treatment of waste prior to landfill.

The guidance is designed to assist waste producers, operators and regulators in selecting a treatment method for waste which will meet the requirements of Article 6(a) of the Directive. According to the Directive, waste that is to be landfilled must be treated if there is a treatment available which will reduce its mass, or will reduce the hazard to human health and the environment. SEPA expects that in most cases there will be a treatment available, although bonded asbestos and calcium sulphate may be exceptions, and there could be others.

Currently, around 90% of Scotland’s waste is landfilled, a SEPA spokesman told edie, with the country currently having 263 sites licensed by SEPA. In 1998, landfill operators reported that 12 million tonnes of controlled waste was landfilled, three million tonnes of which was household waste, two million tonnes commercial waste, and seven million tonnes industrial – of which five million tonnes was from the construction industry.

Waste treatment processes include physical, such as compaction, containment and separation; thermal, such as thermal decomposition, volatilisation, and microbial inactivation; and chemical processes, including oxidation and neutralisation.

According to the guidance, the treatment is not required when wastes are inert, so that treatment is not technically feasible – although many inert wastes are suitable for recycling or reclamation; or when treatment does not reduce the quantity of the waste or the hazards to human health and the environment.

Treatment processes that are not accessible include simple physical dilution without any concurrent chemical changes, such as with the absorption of a liquid into sawdust, or the dilution of contaminated soil with other soils or minerals. However, the mixing of wastes with other materials which does achieve a chemical or physiochemical change is acceptable, such as mixing acids and alkalis – although this then needs to be followed by dewatering, and the use of alkaline materials such as lime to reduce the mobility of heavy metals.

Comments on the consultation should be sent by 18 January 2002 to Gary Walker, Policy Development Officer (Waste), SEPA, Corporate Office, Erskine Court, Castle Business Park, Stirling FK9 4TR.

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