Companies warned to watch their waste | 11 July 11
BUSINESSES and organisations are being warned to keep a close watch on their waste or risk falling foul of tougher new regulations.
Environmental experts at law firm Ward Hadaway say that the introduction of the Waste (England & Wales) Regulations 2011 earlier this year has widened the scope of organisations which need to closely monitor and log how they deal with waste.
Most businesses will be affected in some way by the new rules which are intended to help the Government to meet strict landfill waste targets set by the EU.
The overall aim of the regime is to get businesses to cut down on the amount of waste produced and deal with any waste in a more environmentally friendly way.
The rules will require businesses to apply what is known as the “waste management hierarchy” when dealing with all types of waste
This sets out in order of priority how waste should be dealt with and runs as follows:
- Prevention of waste
- Preparing waste for re-use
As well as following the waste management hierarchy from 28 September, companies will also have to certify that they have done so by including a declaration in their waste transfer notes.
Those failing to comply will be subject to prosecution and fines.
Kirsty Gomersal (pictured), partner in the licensing, environment and regulatory team at Ward Hadaway, said: “The new law is, in many ways, the next obvious step to getting businesses to reduce and recover their wastes.
“Under existing ‘producer responsibility’ legislation, certain wastes such as packaging, batteries and electronic/electrical equipment are subject to special requirements.
"For instance, businesses which produce packaging as part of their normal operations have been obliged to recover and recycle packaging waste since 1997.
“A number of companies have already found themselves caught out by these regulations and prosecuted by the Environment Agency, which operates a very strict enforcement policy.
“For example, in 2009, energy drinks maker Red Bull Company Limited was ordered to pay a record £271,800 after failing to recover and recycle packaging waste between 1999 and 2006.
“The ‘Packaging Waste’ Regulations cover businesses with turnovers in excess of £2m and which handle over 50 tonnes of packaging a year.
“Companies tend to get caught out by the Packaging Waste Regulations when one of the two qualifying thresholds ‘creeps up’ on them. However, the new regulations will affect all types of businesses that deal with waste.”
The new regulations also introduce a two tier system for waste carrier and broker registration, plus the new concept of a waste dealer.
Many businesses which were previously exempt will now find themselves caught under the new regime.
The “lower tier” of registration will apply to charities and local authorities that regularly transport other people’s waste and also to traders who produce non-construction waste themselves in the course of their business – such as landscapers, gardeners and other tradesmen - from 2013.
Other organisations dealing with other people’s waste must register as an “upper tier” carrier, as well as companies which carry their own construction or demolition waste since carrying construction/demolition waste is generally an “upper tier” activity.
Current registered waste carriers will automatically be registered as upper tier carriers when their registration is due to be renewed.
Kirsty Gomersal said: “These regulations considerably widen the scope of businesses and organisations covered by the waste monitoring and enforcement regime and hence expand the potential for organisations to unwittingly fall foul of the new rules.
“All businesses will all have to think carefully about how they treat waste and put in place systems to ensure they comply with the new regime.
“In addition, businesses and organisations which use contractors to remove their waste should make regular checks those contractors to ensure that waste does not end up costing them the earth.”
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