Waste industry faces new challenges under Directive

Tim Jessop, Business Development Manager, of VHE Construction plc, a member of the EIC Contaminated Land Working Group and contributor to the Kirby Report Remediation Permit - Towards a Single Regeneration Licence, looks at key issues arising in the wake of the implementation of the Landfill Directive.

The control measures impacting on brownfield development, already a complex legislative area, are set to become even more difficult to comprehend and implement during 2004. Most significant in this process is the implementation of the next stage of the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC).

Commencing in April 2002, the Directive has already ended the practice of disposing liquid waste and car tyres to landfill. Of more concern to developers, in July 2004, is the prohibition of co-disposal for hazardous and non-hazardous wastes, ending the common practice in the waste industry of using contaminated soils to assist with operational issues such as day cover and haul road construction on domestic waste tips.

To date, the response from the waste industry has been lukewarm with few operators registering landfills as hazardous waste facilities or setting up “mono-cell” capacity to receive hazardous waste within the existing landfill site.
The waste industry has generally expected the government to offer concessions on implementation of the Directive, while DEFRA is suspicious that the waste industry is prepared to jeopardise brownfield development targets for commercial advantage.
Whatever your viewpoint, it seems increasingly unlikely that the government will stall the progress of its Waste Management Review, leading to uncertain market conditions both before and after the July deadline. Fewer landfills, greater haul distances and rising gate prices will inevitably lead to higher remediation costs.
The next element of the Landfill Directive is to require hazardous wastes to be pre-treated prior to landfill. Originally due for implementation with the co-disposal changes, this now seems likely to be introduced 12 months later, in July 2005.

Essentially, contaminated soils will have to undergo pre-treatment to reduce volume or hazardous nature before they can be landfilled. This is certainly a move in the right direction to reduce the burden and expense of landfill and to promote the generation of re-usable soils and aggregates. However, the site processes will inevitably take longer, potentially adding further cost to the site preparation stage.

Finally, to complete the changes for 2004/5, new waste acceptance criteria are to be introduced which will set limit values for particular contaminants, such as 6% for total organic hydrocarbons, prior to landfill. Due to be introduced in July 2004, few limit values have been set with the industry sceptical that they will emerge prior to July 2005. In demonstrating that limits have not been exceeded, further burden will be placed on the testing regime employed, with time-related (leachability) tests leading to additional delays and expense.

The final piece of the jigsaw, in July 2007 non-hazardous waste (clean surplus soils) will also be required to undergo pre-treatment to reduce volumes disposed prior to landfill.

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