Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Safety-Kleen UK Limited


  Safety-Kleen UK Limited("SK") welcomes the opportunity to make submissions to the Committee on the subject of Hazardous Waste.

  SK is one of the largest users of special waste consignment notes in the UK and the largest user of the Carrier's Round System under the Special Waste Regulations 1996. Its business involves the placement and servicing of parts washing and paint spray gun cleaner machines to the industrial sector with a large volume of business in the automotive sector. It is also involved with the collection of liquid solvent-related wastes for blending into secondary liquid fuel for supply to the cement industry. Its business involves the collection, recycling, recovery and disposal of a wide range of industrial wastes. It operates through 19 transfer stations and has a major recycling facility at Dinnington near Sheffield where solvents are recycled and fuels are blended. Its Head Office is at Safety-Kleen House, 390 London Road, Isleworth, Middlesex.

  SK makes 420,000 collections of special waste each year both on single consignments and carrier rounds. SK assists many of its customers with completion of the relevant documentation for special waste consignment.

  SK welcomes the review of topical hazardous waste issues and the submissions are structured to deal with the three categories set out on Press Notice 24.

  "consider 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 96/61/EC) in the draft Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002."

  The Company welcomes the Landfill Directive and the exclusion of liquids and corrosive and flammable substances from landfill. The delay in agreement of technical requirements for hazardous waste landfills has resulted in a period of considerable uncertainty both for landfill operators who may wish to continue to operate as hazardous waste landfill operators and for investment in possible new hazardous waste landfills. This has meant uncertainty in the hazardous waste recovery, recycling and treatment businesses where investment has been held back because it is unclear how much waste will be diverted from landfill and whether adequate hazardous waste landfill capacity will exist to receive treated residues following recycling and recovery processes.

  The position has been exacerbated by a rush by landfill operators to fill sites before restrictions arrive with a driving down of prices and a consequent squeeze on the non-landfill hazardous waste businesses who will be required to handle material once the restrictions under the Directive on liquids and co-disposal bite. The uncertainty was compounded by the long running debate as to the timing of certain of the bans and the phasing out of co-disposal and what the Directive did or did not intend. The long standing use of co-disposal in the UK has meant a competitive disposal advantage to UK business but has also meant that there has been no incentive for investment in recycling, recovery and treatment capacity.

  Efforts will be made by operators to have access to suitable trade effluent consents for disposal of high volume low toxicity material diverted from landfill and it is important that independent operators have a fair share of the capacity available at sewage treatment works for this purpose bearing in mind that most of the sewerage undertakers also operate their own merchant liquid waste operations receiving wastes at such sites.

  Considerable vigilance will be required by the Environment Agency to prevent solid and liquid hazardous wastes going to landfills where spare capacity has not been utilised before the deadlines. The introduction of producer registration will help to impose some responsibility on waste producers to avoid this.

  The Landfill Regulations are broadly a reflection of the wording in the Directive. Many key issues are to be dealt with in Guidance rather than in the Regulations themselves in particular the meaning of treatment prior to landfilling. This places a burden on the EA that should more appropriately be assumed by DEFRA as legislator. There is an industry view that due to lack of resources in DEFRA many key issues have been passed to the EA to handle rather than work up more comprehensive regulations to deal with important issues. The status of guidance published by the Agency in this way is unclear from a legal standpoint as it lacks legal authority.

  "examine the steps taken by the Government to prepare for the implementation of the ???.End-of-Life Vehicles Directive(Council Directive 2000/53/EC) . . ."

  The Company is highly experienced in the handling of wastes from the automotive industry and is concerned that inadequate preparations are being made to control and handle the hazardous wastes arising from destruction of old vehicles. With some exceptions the metals recycling industry is ill equipped to segregate and handle the liquid wastes arising from vehicle destruction. It is important that the costs for handling wastes are factored into any costs estimates for vehicle disposal. It seems likely that specialised plants are required to de-pollute vehicles prior to destruction so that this is effectively required and to be certified before vehicles can be sent for destruction into the metals waste stream. This will enable those with appropriate hazardous waste experience to handle the wastes and stop metals recyclers becoming involved in special waste operations. This would be labour intensive and relatively costly in view of the small quantities generated per vehicle but would be a significant improvement on the currently ad-hoc manner in which some of these are currently handled. As many of the wastes may be recycled and recovered some financial incentives may be appropriate to establish these centres.

  "consider the progress of DEFRA's root and branch review of its Special Waste Regulations"

  Safety-Kleen has made a number of detailed responses in writing and in meetings with DEFRA and the Environment Agency in relation to changes to the Special Waste Regulations and the proposals for Producer Registration. It is not intended to repeat these but they can be made available to the Committee if required.

  Safety-Kleen is disappointed at the time that has been taken to proceed to final consultation following the last round of consultation and comments. The Company fully supports the principle of producer registration. There are however serious concerns as to whether the current proposals will have the impact desired on imposing greater responsibility upon producers to handle and characterise their wastes accurately. It seems likely that the main burden for administering the new arrangements will fall upon waste contractors who will be pressured into undertaking registration and record keeping for producers. This is a particular burden on Safety-Kleen as it deals with a large number of small quantity generators of waste who require considerable help and guidance and the new arrangements represent a significant burden for the Company and its business.

  The reality is that the Environment Agency does not have the manpower to make regular visits to producers unless they are already required to visit for waste licensing and IPPC purposes. Checks upon producers must be improved because at the present time the main burden for waste checking falls upon waste contractors who are then put in the invidious position of whistleblowing on their main customers.

  The technical question of classifying wastes will hopefully be settled by the use of the European Waste Catalogue for all purposes as envisaged by the Landfill Regulations and the forthcoming Special Waste Regulations. It seems strange therefore that the Environment Agency is currently asking for site returns to be made using a UK Classification Scheme. It is hoped this proposal will be abandoned as it can only lead to confusion.

  Safety-Kleen collects waste from a wide range of small producers and it is hoped that fees under the new scheme will be graduated or of such a level as to enable small producers to comply but without being unduly penalised financially.

  Safety-Kleen is keen to ensure that every effort is made to adopt electronic means of dealing with paperwork associated with the new regime. The Company is devoting considerable resources to researching and developing means of serving its customers and complying with legal requirements in a cost efficient manner by use of latest IT techniques. It is hoped that the Environment Agency will discuss with the waste industry the advantages to be gained from this approach and the financial savings that could be made by adopting an innovative approach.


  In the absence of clearer figures for volumes of waste diverted from landfill and delay in establishing criteria for hazardous waste landfills there is a risk that there will be a delay in the creation of adequate capacity and new plants to handle hazardous wastes by recycling recovery and treatment.

  Implementation of the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive is an opportunity to control residual hazardous wastes more effectively.

  Finalisation of the new Special Waste Regulations should proceed as soon as possible with statutory pressure maintained on the producer and with an appropriate lead in time to ensure the new paperwork systems are viable and embrace latest IT techniques.

  The Company would be happy to expand upon any of the issues raised should the Committee find this useful.

Safety-Kleen UK Limited

17 May 2002

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