The strategy has been produced to underpin the practical application of the revised European Union Waste Framework Directive, and in particular the requirements that apply to hazardous waste in relation to the waste hierarchy, the treatment of hazardous waste, and the provision of infrastructure.
In 2008, England produced 6.2 million tonnes of hazardous waste. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the six key principles that should drive the environmentally sound management of hazardous waste are:
- The waste hierarchy;
- Infrastructure provision;
- Reducing reliance on landfill;
- No mixing or dilution - where hazardous waste cannot be prevented, waste producers and managers should not mix different categories of hazardous waste or mix hazardous waste with other waste;
- Treatment of hazardous organic waste; and
- Ending the reliance on the use of Landfill Directive waste acceptance criteria derogations [a provision in an EU legislative measure which allows for all or part of the legal measure to be applied differently, or not at all, to individuals, groups or organisations].
In relation to infrastructure, the strategy states that market investment in the provision of infrastructure for the treatment of hazardous waste requires some certainty that the facilities will be used. It states that this will come from the application of the waste hierarchy, but also through the permitting process, enforcement activity of the Environment Agency and, for new infrastructure, the planning system.
The document explains that the planning system will be pivotal to the adequate timely provision of facilities for hazardous waste recovery and disposal close to where that waste arises. It states: “Responsible regional authorities and waste planning authorities are expected to plan for the volume of hazardous waste arisings in their area.”
Commenting on the strategy, waste firm ISM Waste Services director Peter Allen said: “Waste needs looking at definitely but in the UK’s bid to be leaders and pioneers of new methods and practices we are going beyond the spirit of regulatory framework. We are in danger of disadvantaging ourselves and we may find ourselves in a situation where businesses move out of this country to other countries where there is not so much red tape and stringent laws. We need assistance from Government and not more regulation.
“I think hazardous waste has already gone through its revolution, and that’s not to say that it doesn’t need another one, but hazardous waste has already been banned from going to landfill.”