Memorandum submitted by the Environment
This submission presents the Environment Agency's
views on how the development of EU hazardous waste legislation
and its implementation in England and Wales will affect the type
of facilities needed to deal with this waste and the impacts on
the Agency's regulatory responsibilities.
The Agency concludes that:
New and forthcoming controls will
bring pressure, including increased costs, to bear on those who
produce hazardous waste to reduce its production. The Agency
welcomes this in the interests of protecting people and the environment.
Increased hazardous waste management
costs will make alternative hazardous waste recovery and treatment
options economically viable. The Environment Agency supports
Implementation of the revised EU
Hazardous Waste List will increase the range of wastes classified
as hazardous and will result in an increase in the quantities
of hazardous waste and the number of producers which will need
to be regulated by the Agency.
Implementation of the Landfill Directive
will require non-landfill disposal options to be used from July
2002 for explosive, corrosive, oxidising, flammable, highly flammable
and infectious wastes. Further Landfill Directive impacts will
depend on landfill site classification decisions yet to be made
by their operators and the waste acceptance criteria.
Further pressures on hazardous waste
recovery capacity will occur as the "producer responsibility"
directives, such as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment
(WEEE), End of Life Vehicles (ELV) and potentially Household Hazardous
Waste take effect. A significant proportion of the hazardous waste
will not be recoverable and will require further treatment or
Without minimisation action being
taken further hazardous waste disposal and recovery capacity will
need to be developed, especially pre-treatment facilities and
possibly high temperature incinerators and suitable landfill sites.
There will be a requirement for a
limited number of some specialist treatment facilities such as
high temperature incineration. Transport distances to these facilities
may be significant.
EU legislation relating to hazardous
waste is complex. The current arrangement of regulations and directives
makes practical implementation of the legislation unnecessarily
complex and costly to the Agency and to those it regulates.
Further guidance is needed to assist
waste producers, waste managers and regulators identify and classify
hazardous wastes and to clarify what treatment is necessary or
permissible prior to landfill.
Increased pressure on hazardous waste
management will raise the costs of its responsible disposal. This
will potentially increase the incentive for illegal hazardous
waste disposal by:
circumvention of controls such as misdescription
of wastes under the Duty of Care.
This in turn could attract the attention of
organised criminal activity.
The new duties introduced by this legislation
will increase the Agency's costs for compliance monitoring, promoting
hazardous waste minimisation and intelligence led enforcement
to detect and prevent illegal activity.
As the Government's expert and professional
advisor on the development and implementation of environmental
policy and strategy, the Agency recommends:
The development and implementation
by Government of a national hazardous waste management plan to
ensure an adequate national network of hazardous waste management
The Government's current review of
the planning system should seek to ensure that development planning
for waste management facilities supports the timely and appropriate
provision of new hazardous waste recovery or disposal facilities
at the local level.
Strengthening and streamlining the
Duty of Care provisions to reduce the risk of hazardous wastes
being mis-classified as non-hazardous to avoid the new controls.
A regulatory review aimed at reducing
unnecessary complexity and conflict in the regulatory framework
for hazardous waste management in the UK, leading to more joined
Tougher action through the courts
to deter and punish those who do not comply with the law including
realistic sentencing for environmental offences.
Adequate time for industry and regulators
to prepare for the efficient and effective introduction and operation
of new hazardous waste control regimes including appropriate transition
periods between the time regulations come into force and the measures
apply to individual facilities.
2.1 The Environment Agency's Role in Hazardous
The Environment Agency is the leading public
agency for protecting and enhancing the environment in England
and Wales, through the regulation of emissions to air, land and
water. Within this broad remit the Agency is the waste regulation
authority for England and Wales.
The Agency is both a regulator and an expert
advisor to Government. In the latter capacity the Agency has worked
closely with DEFRA and its predecessors in the development of
many aspects of hazardous waste legislation. The Agency seeks
at all stages to provide expert advice on the technical issues,
as well as to gauge their strategic resource impacts and plan
Specifically the Agency aims:
to seek the reduction of industrial
hazardous waste production by requiring the application of applying
Best Available Techniques (BAT) under Pollution Prevention and
Control (PPC) and waste minimisation at source to other processes;
to promote the reduction of resource
consumption and hazardousness of waste by applying techniques;
developing tools such as life cycle analysis;
to monitor and enforce compliance
with relevant hazardous waste law;
to target regulatory activities using
risk-based principles and enforcement action through intelligence
In UK waste law, "hazardous" waste
is classed as "special" waste (under the 1996 Special
Waste Regulations). Previous terms have been "toxic"
and "dangerous", or even "poisonous". All
European and international instruments refer to "hazardous"
waste. For the sake of consistency in this submission the Agency
refers to all such wastes as hazardous regardless of context,
though it should be noted that the special waste definition embraces
a slightly wider range, of wastes than does "hazardous".
UK hazardous waste law dates back to the Deposit
of Poisonous Wastes Act 1972. This was replaced by the Control
of Pollution (Special Waste) Regulations 1980 under the Control
of Pollution Act 1974, which defined hazardous waste through toxicity
criteria and concentration of components. The controls were thoroughly
reviewed again in 1996 but maintained concentration threshold
tests for many wastes to decide if they are "special".
These thresholds result in the total quantity of waste defined
classified as "special" being less than would be defined
as hazardous if the EU definition was directly used.
2.2 Basic Hazardous Waste Data: Types, Quantities
The Agency collects data on hazardous waste
movements as part of its regulatory responsibilities. Data on
hazardous waste production and its fate are is given in the tables
in Annex 1. This shows that currently some 6 million tonnes of
hazardous waste are produced per annum in the UK.
About 43 per cent of all consigned hazardous
waste is currently disposed of to landfill.
Currently the major (quantity by weight) hazardous
waste streams are:
Oils and oily wastes: 21 per cent
(1.0 million tonnes)25 per cent of which is landfilled;
Construction and demolition and asbestos:
21 per cent (1.0 million tonnes)92 per cent landfilled;
Organic chemical processes: 12 per
cent (0.54 million tonnes)26 per cent landfilled;
Inorganic chemical processes: 7 per
cent (0.35 million tonnes)42 per cent landfilled.
The Agency compiles and publishes waste data
to inform strategic and local planning, and to drive better waste
minimisation practices. Our recent publications include Hazardous
Waste Summaries from our monitoring database, and the Regional
Strategic Waste Management Assessments (SWMAs). We plan to publish
Strategic Waste Management Information for England and Wales in
3. IMPACT OF
3.1 During the last 30 years, the waste
management industry has relied heavily on landfill, especially
the practice of "co-disposal" of hazardous wastes with
biodegradable wastes in the same landfill. The remainder has
gone for treatment or incineration.
3.2 The Government supported continued co-disposal
throughout the early stages of the Landfill Directive negotiations
in the early 1990s, but with little support from other countries
in the EU. By the time the Landfill Directive was finally adopted
in 1999 the argument for co-disposal had effectively been lost
by the UK at the European level and a step change in UK hazardous
waste disposal practice became inevitable.
3.3 The Landfill Directive requires:
the exclusion from landfill of wastes
displaying certain hazards (for example, oxidising, corrosive,
infectious), from July 2002;
the general requirement to treat
all hazardous wastes to be treated before landfill to standards
yet to be fixed by the Commission (the "Waste Acceptance
the end of the UK practice of co-disposal
of hazardous with non-hazardous wastes by 2004 with very few exceptions;
the exclusion of hazardous liquids
from landfill from July 2002.
3.4 The Waste Acceptance Criteria (currently
being produced by the European Commission Technical Adaptation
Committee) will set the requirements which hazardous wastes will
have to meet before they can go to any landfill. In practice,
tough leaching test criteria may mean that treatments like solidification
will be necessary. Uncertainties in finalising the criteria have
delayed landfill operators' decisions about landfill classification
and provision of new treatment capacity. Confirmation of the Waste
Acceptance Criteria is expected from the European Commission by
July this year. The Agency is issuing guidance on these criteria
in June 2002 based on anticipation of the Commission's announcement.
3.5 Landfill operators must decide whether
they want to continue to accept hazardous wastes by July 2002.
It is possible that many will opt to continue "co-disposal"
up to 2004 after which this practice must stop. After July 2002
landfill of explosive, corrosive, oxidising, flammable, or highly
flammable and infectious must stop immediately. The main effects
of the Landfill Directive on hazardous waste management will therefore
have effect over the next two to six years.
3.6 The waste management industry has suggested
that non-landfill hazardous waste management capacity exists to
cope with these changes. However, the actual types and tonnages
of hazardous waste that will have to be redirected away from landfill
depends on the Waste Acceptance Criteria and commercial landfill
classification decisions yet to be made by the site operators.
The Agency must receive site operator Conditioning Plans by July
2002, through which the operator must make clear which category
of landfill (hazardous or non-hazardous) will be opted for.
3.7 The Agency is concerned that landfills
solely for hazardous waste disposal may require very long-term
management and monitoring. This type of landfill is relatively
new to the UK, and the Agency is investigating other EU Member
States' experiences to guide the controls needed for preparation,
operation and after-care of these sites.
Any increase in the costs of responsible hazardous
waste management will increase the incentive for illegal hazardous
waste disposal by:
circumvention of controls such as
mis-description of wastes under the Duty of Care and special waste
In turn, this could attract the attention of
organised criminal activity and will require the Agency to be
vigilant in applying both regulatory and intelligence-led enforcement
to detect and prevent this possibility. The Agency would therefore
need to be properly resourced to undertake this higher level of
enforcement work. We have focused start-up resources this financial
year to allow first steps in intelligence-led enforcement. We
will have to keep our need for resources in this area under review.
We would also like to see tougher penalties to deter and punish
those who do not comply with the law.
4. THE IMPACT
4.1 Many hazardous items or materials are
currently managed as small parts of generally non-hazardous wastes.
Examples include small batteries, vehicle components and household
items like bleach.
4.2 The general concept of "producer
responsibility" involves making manufacturers or sellers
responsible for products and materials when they are finally discarded.
This will inevitably require separation of items from general
mixed waste. Some household waste will immediately need to be
managed as hazardous waste. Others, such as scrap cars will need
to be processed to recover valuable materials and remove hazardous
components. As an example, Annex 2 lists the most common hazardous
components in cars.
4.3 These new producer responsibilities
will require new facilities for materials recovery and to treat
and dispose of the hazardous wastes arising from that recovery.
The numbers and types of facility needed and the quantities of
waste involved will depend on the detail of the Directives and
the UK regulations. The Agency is working closely with Government
to influence the Directives and to facilitate ease their UK implementation.
The implementation date for the End of Life Vehicles Directive
is 2002 and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive
is possibly 2004.
5. THE IMPACT
5.1 There are differences between the EU
definitions of hazardous waste and that implemented in the UK.
The UK definition of hazardous ("special") waste has
encompasseds wastes not classed as hazardous in Europe, such as
Prescription Only Medicines. It also excludes some wastes regarded
as hazardous in the rest of Europe by applying threshold tests
for some hazards such as toxicity. European case law is also tending
to extend the scope of the definition of waste and therefore what
is hazardous waste. As a result, implementing EU Ddirectives in
the UK has created some tensions. led to some confusion. For example,
the Hazardous Waste Incineration Directive has used the Hazardous
Waste Directive rather than the UK "special" waste definition.
This has led to some confusion.
The EU Hazardous Waste list has also been recently
extended to include, for example, fluorescent tubes, end of life
vehicles, computer monitors, some contaminated soils, dental amalgam
and diesel. The Agency is working with DEFRA on a full review
of the special waste regime to bring it fully in line with EU
hazardous waste definitions and controls. This will increase
the range and quantity of wastes regarded as "hazardous".
We welcome the current review of the Special
Waste Regulations particularly the proposed revision to the consignment
note procedure. We will take the opportunity to move from paper-based
administrative controls to more targeted waste minimisation promotion
activities, inspection, monitoring and enforcement of hazardous
Broadening the range of "hazardous"
waste in the UK will affect the style of regulation of the facilities
treating or disposing of it. Some sites currently "exempt"
from waste management licensing may no longer qualifty for this
simplified regulatory regime. A government consultation on possible
changes to the exemptions is planned for later this year. Operators
of sites needing a waste management licence may need a higher
level of proven "technical competence" to allow them
to continue to operate if they wish to continue managing newly
defined hazardous wastes.
To comply fully with the Waste Framework Directive,
some agricultural waste is likely to be brought under UK waste
regulation law shortly. A significant number of farmers will
therefore become hazardous waste producers for wastes such as
veterinary medicines, herbicide residues, etc.
Similar changes are proposed for non-natural
mine and quarry waste, which are also currently excluded from
UK waste controls. The Agency is currently scoping the types and
quantities of waste that will need to be managed as hazardous
wastes in future from these two sectors.
6. THE HAZARDOUS
6.1 The Agency regulates most hazardous
waste incinerators through the Integrated Pollution Control (IPC)
regime in Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
6.2 The IPC authorisations satisfy the requirements
of the Hazardous Waste Incineration Directive (HWID) (96/67/EC).
Similar statutory arrangements are also in place under the Pollution
Prevention and Control (PPC) regime.
6.3 The aim of the HWID is to prevent or
reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment
and health, from hazardous waste incineration through securing
appropriate operating conditions and emission limits.
6.4 The Agency has issued 27 authorisations
which implement the HWID for a range of processes, including dedicated
hazardous waste incinerators and cement kilns.
6.5 Recent developments in the European
definition of waste and changes to the European Waste List are
likely to widen the scope of the HWID (and the Waste Incineration
Directive which will replace it by December 2002) and thus the
number of processes subject to this regulation. Waste oil-burning
in power stations and roadstone coating plants may be severely
curtailed when the WID is fully implemented (in late 2005) because
of the high costs of achieving compliance with the WID emission
limits and operating standards.
6.6 The Agency will work with Government
and industry to improve environment and health protection for
waste incineration whilst still supporting important markets for
wastes where they can be beneficially used as fuels.
7. OVERALL DEVELOPING
7.1 A national hazardous waste management
plan is needed to ensure an adequate national network of hazardous
waste management facilities are available. The planning and development
control system (currently under Government review) needs reform
to support the timely provision of any new facilities required
at a local level, and needs to be directly connected to the strategic
planning system. Without this link, strategic plans may never
be turned into reality at either a local or national level.
7.2 The sixth European Environmental Action
Programme suggests that EU policy needs to focus on waste prevention,
both qualitative (hazardousness) and quantitative. The programme
sets a target of reducing the volume of hazardous waste generated
by around 20 per cent by 2010, compared to 2000, and by around
50 per cent by 2020.
7.3 The Agency intends to concentrate its
waste minimisation initiatives on priority waste streams, especially
tyres and hazardous wastes. The work on hazardous waste will be
undertaken as part of our increased contact with producers under
the forthcoming review of the Special Wastes Regime. Waste Strategy
2000 does not contain any government targets or intended instruments
or controls to reduce hazardous waste production in England and
Wales. Together with a national plan for hazardous waste management,
the Agency would like to see Government proposals for hazardous
waste reduction as a development of the strategy.
7.4 Any short- to medium-term lack of hazardous
waste treatment/disposal capacity will drive costs upwards. Even
if adequate capacity is or will be available, hazardous waste
management costs will inevitably increase. This pressure will
encourage the development of new treatment methods or additional
capacity as they become economically viable. Increased costs will
also encourage hazardous waste minimisation by producers, and
this is to be welcomed.
17 May 2002