Memorandum submitted by Biffa Waste Services
Biffa Waste Services is the largest waste management
company operating in the UK-it is the largest wholly British owned
waste management company and can justifiably claim to be the most
diverse in terms of its spread of interest in industrial, commercial
and domestic collection, recycling, treatment and landfill, and
liquid and specialist hazardous waste management systems.
The company has a current annualised turnover
of around £600 million and is also in the top three waste
management companies operating in Belgium. We are a wholly owned
subsidiary of Severn Trent plc with over 110 operating centres
throughout the UK. We handle 12 million tonnes of material, which
is recycled, treated, or landfilled, on behalf of our extensive
base of over 58,000 customers in the public, commercial and industrial
Biffa is a significant player in the end process
market for hazardous waste in the following dimensions:
liquid organic and inorganic waste
contaminated land and landfilled
solid hazardous wastes;
synoptic overview of tonnages handled,
national market share, operating locations and typical products
together with accreditation and other aspects.
As a major integrated waste company we would
give wholehearted support for Government initiatives that result
in a total ban on the landfilling of all "hazardous"
wastes which have not been treated to final storage quality. This
should be delivered through re-engineering processes that generate
such wastes and through treatment of residual hazardous wastes
to final storage quality prior to landfill. Our reasoning for
such a position hinges around four key issues:
Hazardous wastes and the substances
that make such wastes hazardous have the potential to cause significant
environmental harm. Landfill is not an appropriate waste management
system for such materials, unless the hazardous substances are
either rendered permanently immobile, degraded to harmless compounds
or are reduced in concentration to such a degree that unacceptable
pollution is avoided. Long-term storage in landfill of hazardous
wastes not treated in such a way cannot be considered sustainable
because containment systems will eventually fail resulting in
the uncontrolled release of contaminants to the environment. We
consider that the concept of hazardous waste (only) landfill sites
as currently proposed to be fundamentally flawed.
There will be clear benefits arising
from shifting the management of such wastes from low technology
to higher technology, less environmentally damaging exit routes/management
Environmental best practice is a
major issue for our shareholders and most others. In many ways
hazardous wastes are at the forefront of driving wider awareness
(both for the general public and corporate sectors) on the nature
of and need for improved management practices with regard to waste.
A clear tenet of the Landfill Directive is the reduction of the
hazardousness of wastes prior to landfill.
It is in our interests to reduce
our future balance sheet exposure, which might flow from future
environmental liabilities associated with landfill, particularly
of hazardous wastes. Whilst we recognise that properly managed
landfill is appropriate in today's context, assessments of risk
in the future alter and we therefore advocate and adopt a precautionary
approach. Historically we have not relied on regulatory or legislative
frameworks to minimise risk-we have voluntarily adopted bans of
certain materials to our landfill sites even where we are legally
entitled to accept them within the terms of our operating licences.
These self-imposed bans have resulted in a significant loss of
revenue over time. Particular examples include bans on the landfilling
of liquid wastes from 1989, bulk quantities of tyres from 1990,
fluorescent tubes in bulk from 1998, and the adoption of loading
rate limits to control the total quantities of certain contaminants
accepted in our landfill sites.
In support of our recommended approach we offer
a number of key foundations on which a hazardous waste strategy
needs to be supported and defined by Government:
an explicit integrated regulatory
framework that clearly defines responsibilities, obligations and
availability and certainty regarding
the suitability of alternative waste treatment technologies
assurances from the regulator that
there will be a level playing field with regard to enforcement
a defined liability and chargeable
chain of responsibility for the waste materials pre and post treatment.
an appropriate and explicit planning
and permitting framework that the waste industry and Government
operate to and which is integrated with the required dates for
meeting new obligations.
A strategic planning framework is needed, probably
based on individual waste streams, or families of related wastes,
that develops protocols for the future management of the wastes.
The framework will need to be represented by the regulator, NGOs,
the waste industry, DEFRA, DTI, consumer groups and CBI as appropriate.
Priorities could be set based on scale and risk.
This would enable the identification of the BPEO for the individual
waste types and assist in the identification of BAT for the treatment
processes thereby creating the necessary legal frame and development
certainty. Through effective and consistent regulation and enforcement,
appropriate investment conditions would then be created which
would bring forward the development of the requisite infrastructure
Alongside the strategic planning framework,
there should be economic working groups established with representation
from the same types of bodies. The focus of these groups would
be to identify the outline cost/regulatory impact assessments
and recommend to Government an appropriate charging framework.
Our personal preference is to establish these initiatives in the
context of Producer Responsibility on a single point basis with
an agreed framework of financial offsets available to obligated
companies in the form of NIC reduction, VAT adjustment, tax claw
backs or similar measures. Offsets should permit obligated companies
to accept end life management cost liability in year one at zero
(neutral) cost and then provide for a forward programme of removal
of the financial support so that over that period the threat to
UK inflationary pressures and to corporate profitability for the
obligated product does not suffer unduly.
Finally, a fully integrated regulatory framework
is required as opposed to a piecemeal implementation of Directives.
The current approach of Government to the implementation of Directives
appears to be more concerned with the avoidance of infraction
proceedings than creating clarity and certainty for those directly
impacted by the legislation. The Landfill Regulations 2002 are
considered to contain many loopholes that could have been addressed
by a more strategic and considered approach to the requirements.
A number of specific aspects of hazardous waste
management have been identified and our comments and observations
are set out under these issues.
List I and II substances to the environment
and the mismatch between discharge to sewer and surface water.
The impact on hazardous waste disposal of past
changes in legislation governing landfill, and, with regard to
hazardous waste, the adequacy of preparations for the implementation
of the Landfill Directive (Council Directive 99/31/EC) in the
draft Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002
Government, the regulator, and consequently
waste producers and the waste management industry are ill prepared
for the implementation of the Landfill Directive and the apparent
consequences for the future management of hazardous wastes. The
concept of hazardous waste landfill sites as currently envisaged,
and apparently supported by the recently released draft TAC (Technical
Adaptation Committee) waste acceptance criteria, is fundamentally
There is currently no information or guidance
on what will constitute a hazardous waste landfill facility, despite
the fact that all hazardous wastes will have to be landfilled
in such sites from July 2004. There are significant concerns regarding
how such sites are to be designed, operated, and managed and what
environmental control systems will be required. Such sites will
be operated under PPC permits that will have no reasonable prospect
of ever being capable of being surrendered hence will remain as
a permanent balance sheet liability.
The absence of clear guidance on these aspects
will result in the continuation of the view of the majority of
companies in the waste management sector that there will be no
hazardous waste landfill sites post 16 July 2004 hence no facilities
for the disposal of hazardous wastes after this date.
The ongoing delay in the publication of waste
acceptance criteria means that it has been impossible for waste
producers and waste management companies to plan and make provision
for appropriate waste treatment facilities for hazardous wastes.
The conclusions of the TAC will effectively define the minimum
waste treatment standards to be satisfied. When the necessary
information is available, the timescale for planning, permitting,
developing and commissioning such facilities is likely to be extremely
protracted. To date, REPAC's will be unable to make any valid
determinations or assessments of the future need for such waste
management facilities for planning purposes.
To date, all wastes accepted for co-disposal
at landfill sites have been assessed on the basis of an analysis
of the total concentrations of contaminants within the waste regardless
of the degree to which such contaminants will be released post
landfilling. Attempts to assess wastes on the basis of the quantities
of contaminants that may be leached from a waste have historically
been rejected by the regulator. The approach adopted by the TAC
is based on the use of leachate tests. There is currently little
or no data available for the leachable properties of hazardous
wastes and no established commercially available capacity for
the analysis methods.
To address the problems of long term liabilities
associated with hazardous waste landfill sites as currently envisaged,
we promoted the case for hazardous wastes to be treated to "final
storage quality". Under these conditions, hazardous wastes
would be treated to a condition where they represent no future
environmental liability. This approach would be fully sustainable,
would internalise all costs associated with the management of
hazardous wastes, would address public concerns regarding the
management of hazardous wastes and would address concerns regarding
long term or permanent storage of wastes. This approach has been
rejected by DEFRA but the reasons for the rejection are ill considered.
The alternative approach would be for hazardous
wastes landfill sites to be the responsibility of central Government,
and operated under contract by the waste management industry.
Such an approach may be necessary if new sites are to be approved
under land-use planning and permitting systems which are likely
to result in widespread and concerted opposition by the communities
within which such facilities are proposed.
The effect of the introduction of the European
waste catalogue will be to significantly increase the quantities
of hazardous wastes and the number of producers of hazardous waste.
However, the majority of the new producers will be SME's which
currently have little or no knowledge of the new regulatory systems.
Consequently a major education programme is required and considerably
increased regulatory and enforcement resources.
The overall approach to the Landfill Directive
has been reactive, provided too little detailed consultation in
respect of hazardous wastes, and has been conducted without the
benefit of an over-arching policy by Government, which should
have been defined in Waste Strategy 2000. Finally, it should be
recognised that the timetable for implementation of the Directive
has been largely ignored such that the implementing regulations
should have been in place before July 2001. The consequence of
this is that there are significant gaps in the requisite general
and technical guidance.
The steps taken by the Government to prepare
for the implementation of the Incineration of Hazardous Waste
Directive (Council Directive 94/67/EC) and the Integrated Pollution
Prevention and Control Directive (Council Directive 96/61/EC),
as well as the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive (Council Directive
2000/53/EC) and the proposed Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment
Directive in as much as they deal with hazardous or special wastes
Biffa Waste Services Ltd do not operate any
high temperature hazardous waste incinerators, we therefore have
no comment to make regarding the implementation of the Incineration
of Hazardous Waste Directive. However, we are concerned about
the lack of joined up thinking with respect to the LFD corrosive
ban and waste acceptance criteria and effects of these upon the
disposal of incinerator residues. A consistent policy in respect
of ELV's is essential, particularly in respect of "de-polluting
vehicles". However, as this sector has lobbied successfully
for delays in the implementation of legislation, and is still
not required to operate even within the provisions of the Duty
of Care, we anticipate that further significant delays will continue
leading to delays in addressing the management of hazardous wastes
from end of life vehicles.
DEFRA have consulted on proposals for a review
of the Special waste regulations and our response to this is attached.
To date no response or further dialogue has taken place.
The work undertaken to date fails to address
the problem associated with the anticipated significant increase
in the number of hazardous waste producers following the implementation
of the EWC. The number of producers could increase by 200 per
cent to 600,000 with commensurate increases in resources required
to administer systems.
There will be very significant increases in
the quantities of hazardous wastes but, as indicated above, there
is currently no information available regarding the manner in
which these wastes should be managed under the new regime. There
appears to be little recognition of the scale of the problem but
the implementation of the Directive could result in 2.5 million
tonnes of hazardous wastes being diverted from landfill with currently
less than 1M tonnes of treatment capacity available.
The Environment Agency has consulted on the
requirements for the pre-treatment of wastes required to satisfy
Article 6a of the Landfill Directive. Because of significant delays
with the drafting of the 2002 Regulations, the consultation had
to refer to the Directive, which industry is not bound by. The
consultation failed to adequately address the treatment requirements
for hazardous wastes and there consequently remains considerable
uncertainty regarding what will be required to discharge "treatment"
obligations. We are particularly concerned that the draft Landfill
Regulations do not support the assertion within the (non-statutory)
guidance that compaction does not constitute treatment. Ongoing
delay puts back the date by which investment in new infrastructure
will commence. What is clear is that existing treatment infrastructure
is unsuitable for a significant proportion of hazardous wastes
and that new facilities will be required. In addition to the unsuitable
investment conditions, there is no planning framework within which
such facilities could be brought forward.
The absence of clear guidance, certainty of
requirements, and a risk of regulatory inconsistency will result
in a hiatus in July 2004 when existing landfills are required
to cease to accept hazardous wastes. With the delays that have
occurred it now seems inevitable that the requite treatment infrastructure
will not be available until much later. Contingency plans are
therefore required to deal with hazardous wastes post July 2004.
Biffa Waste Services Limtied