Have problems of dealing with hazardous (special)
wastes properly been taken into account in the development of
waste disposal policies?
The focus in recent years has been predominantly
on municipal solid waste (MSW) as this is perceived to pose the
greatest challenge for the UK in the short to medium term. In
formulating the waste strategy some key differences in the management
of hazardous waste seem to have been lost. There is insufficient
priority given to managing the hazards to human health and the
environment over the need to minimise/recycle/recover.
These problems are often seen as being a matter
for the waste management industry resulting in "end of pipe"
mentality. Producer responsibility and duty of care appears to
be a low priority and consequently there has been insufficient
interfacing of chemical policy, product stewardship and waste
Historically DoE, DETR, DEFRA and the EA have
struggled with determining the BPEO for hazardous waste, particularly
for landfill. By way of example; in 1996 the EA published Technical
Guidance on BPEO for prescribed processes. (Footnote 2). At S
9.1.2 it states in relation to hazard assessment of wastes generated
"It is recognised that the hazard assessment
approach adopted for the purposes of BPEO assessment does not
take into account differences in the releases which may occur
from different forms of waste treatment or disposal, for example
solvent recovery or incineration. It is proposed that further
research will be undertaken by the agency to develop an approach
which can take these differences into consideration, however this
is a complex issue and is unlikely to be easily resolved."
Little progress has been made. The ability to
provide clear indication of which waste management technique is
preferable for a particular type of waste is essential to ensure
that the UK has the right blend of waste management options and
an industry sufficiently confident in the regulation of waste
to invest. For hazardous wastes it is the differences in environmental
releases between waste management options that the EA needs to
focus on to ensure an acceptable level of environmental protection.
Incineration of Hazardous Waste Directive (Council
Directive 94/67/EC) and Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control.
The Hazardous Waste Incineration Directive (HWID)
has been implemented rigorously on a "cause celebre"
basis. The merchant High Temperature Incineration (HTI) industry
fully meets the requirement of the directive in a transparent
manner, and continues to be highly regulated. However the HTI
industry continues to compete with lower environmental standards
applicable to co-incineration and merchant HTI capacity has fallen
dramatically in the last few years to its lowest point in over
a decade. The closure of one other plant would result in a monopoly
situation in the UK and would be a potential disaster for the
UK chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
Whilst we recognise that co-incineration is
an important option a level playing field needs to be established.
Recovery of energy during the destruction of waste by HTI is of
equal value to the recovery of energy during cement manufacture.
We also see opportunities in applying PPC as
a means of managing the risks associated with hazardous waste
and encouraging elimination, recovery and recycling where this
can be done safely. PPC should be used as the tool for regulating
BPEO for wastes that display particular hazardous characteristics
or are of particular public concern.
We fully support supply chain methods for promoting
improvements in waste management.
The Waste Management Industry is eager to play
a part in providing solutions/expertise at the start of, or ideally
prior to, formal consultation. Shanks operates a range of recycling
operations in Europe including recycling of electronic goods.
These are effective and profitable as a result of a clear statutory
waste management plan being in place.
We warn of the risks of sustainability without
consideration of the precautionary principle. It is particularly
important to prevent additional hazards from entering the supply
chain undetected where recovery/recycling is chosen.
It is important to ensure that the principles
of prevention of dilution of hazard in the Waste Framework Directive,
the Hazardous Waste Directive and the Landfill Directive are regulated
and enforceable. The regulations must require and define assessment
criteria to be used when designating a waste as being hazardous
with a clear statutory power. In addition they should require
and define assessment criteria to be used when designating a waste
treatment that renders a waste non-hazardous. The PPC regulations
could be used to effect these.