Waste management industry signs up to green charter

The waste management industry is the latest sector to sign up to guidelines drawn up by the Environment Agency to help it minimise its environmental impact.

The agency has been working with a number of key industries to produce non-binding sector plans which outline practices which safeguard the environment.

Each plan is produced in consultation with representatives from within the industry, in this case the Environmental Services Association trade group.

The plan sets out the environmental impacts of the waste management sector and identifies ten objectives for the industry and the Environment Agency for the next five years.

It explains how that sector is performing environmentally and pinpoints main areas for improvement.

Some of the objectives outlined are voluntary and others are part of existing regulations but there is no increased obligation on the sector under the plan, which requires the goodwill of those working within the industry to have a significant effect.

While the EA has no powers to enforce most of the points in the plan, it will review progress annually and publish the results, which in itself offers an incentive to meet the targets.

“The Waste Management Sector Plan has been developed by the Environment Agency with the Environmental Services Association, the largest trade body in the sector,” said Liz Parkes, head of waste regulation at the EA.

“This Plan shows how we are working in partnership with the waste management industry in England and Wales to help look after the environment and achieve a greener business world.

“Although the sector itself does not have a huge negative impact on the environment, there are still a number of incidents that occur when handling waste. A key part of this plan is to take measures to reduce such incidents and their effects on the environment.

“Also the plan aims to tackle the increasing number of illegal operators who undermine the legitimate waste management sector.”

The objectives are:

  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions

  • reduce consumption of resources by promoting the use of waste as a raw material

  • reduce the number of pollution incidents within the industry

  • take steps to clamp down on illegal operators

  • improve record keeping and data on waste production and management

  • enhance natural habitats around landfills and other waste management sites

  • work to risk-based regulatory and environmental management systems

  • improve relationships between the Environment Agency, industry and the wider community

  • ensure there is a sustainable and competent waste management industry and regulator

  • reduce the number of accidents and injuries in the industry

    ESA Chief Executive, Dirk Hazell said: “ESA has led private sector debate in Britain and in Europe on modernisation of environmental regulation because our industry appreciates how good regulation can align economic and environmental sustainability.

    “Our members have made impressive improvements in environmental performance going well beyond the requirements of the law. This sector plan helps to sustain improvement by offering shared understanding of what is to be achieved and structure for delivery.”

    The Environment Agency has already published sector plans for the cement, chemical and nuclear industries apart from waste management. Six more plans are currently under development for electricity generation, food and drink manufacture, water companies, dairy farming, retail and construction.

    Sam Bond

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