Memorandum submitted by the CBI
1. The CBI represents businesses operating
in the UK, who collectively account for approximately 40 per cent
of the UK workforce. Our membership is drawn from across a wide
range of sectors (including manufacturing and services) and a
wide range of company sizes, from SMEs to major multinational
enterprises. Many companies will have submitted individual responses
to this inquiry outlining their specific concerns.
2. The CBI mission is to promote the conditions
in which businesses in the UK can compete and prosper. A key area
of our activity is to ensure that public policy contributes positively
to this mission.
3. National and European public policy on
sustainable development is an important element of CBI work. Our
activities range from commenting on individual policy proposals,
to informing public debate (eg through surveys, position papers),
to playing a key role in developing leading edge policies (eg
on emissions trading) and practical applications (eg on reporting
and benchmarking corporate environmental performance).
4. Business is concerned about the way the
UK Government has tackled the implementation of recent European
environmental Directives. This has been prompted in particular
by the uncertainty arising from the implementation of the Landfill
5. The CBI understands that the UK Government
does not wish to attract infraction proceedings from the Commission
for failing to implement legislation in full and on time. However
the process of consultation has been protracted and difficult.
It has resulted in transposition by the due date being achieved
with little guidance in place on which business is reliant on
basing its actions. Not only does this situation leave business
in potential jeopardy from groups seeking access to justice, the
lack of certainty also fails to allow an adequate basis for business
to present a case to financial institutions for capital to invest
in improvements needed for compliance.
6. We believe that Government would benefit
from a better understanding of the changes that businesses will
need to make to comply with the new requirements. In addition
the time, money, resources and practicalities of making these
changes should be further explored.
7. CBI members recognise the key role they
have to play in delivering environmental objectives and wish to
achieve this in a practical and cost effective way.
8. New regulation that will impose increased
restrictions on hazardous waste disposal and short implementation
periods look likely to pose a significant challenge for business.
These challenges are compounded by a distinct lack of information
from Europe and the Government on the exact requirements for future
hazardous waste disposal.
9. Industry needs a clear definition of
the hazardous waste types that can be accepted for landfill in
the future. This is to be set out in the Waste Acceptance Criteria
(WAC) which is urgently required if industry is to make the necessary
provisions for future hazardous waste disposal and comply with
the new regulation. There is potential for a number of waste types
to fall outside the WAC and so would be unacceptable for landfill
under the new regulations. However, there is a good deal of uncertainly
about the quantities of such waste. Industry is now seeking assurances
from the government that contingency plans are being made for
the temporary storage and long term disposal of such waste types.
10. There is also a degree of uncertainly
as to whether there is sufficient capacity for future hazardous
waste disposal to landfill. Business is currently unaware of the
number of landfill sites that will continue to accept hazardous
waste in the future. This information is urgently required so
those waste producers can make alternative arrangements for hazardous
waste disposal if required.
11. The UK produces approximately 400 million
tonnes of waste per annum.
It has also developed a high dependence on the disposal of waste
to landfill sites. For example, in 1996 85 per cent of municipal
waste was landfilled compared to a mere 35 per cent in Austria,
12 per cent in the Netherlands and 11 per cent in Denmark.
Industry has developed a variety of methods by which waste production
is reduced and diverted from landfill. Hence a smaller proportion
of commercial and industrial waste is landfilled, approximately
54 per cent. The Environment Agency
estimate that England and Wales produced approximately 6.1 million
tonnes of "special" or hazardous waste in 2000, of which
43 per cent2.6 million tonnes was landfilled.
12. Companies are actively seeking to reduce
waste production by changing their processes and products, by
developing new technology and by using new materials. There is
also scope for diverting hazardous waste into recycling and incineration
as opposed to the more traditional method of landfill.
13. The European Hazardous Waste Directive
contains a defined list of substances classified as hazardous
waste. The UK's Special Waste Regulations 1996, implement the
requirements of this Directive, defining hazardous waste as "special"
waste. The European Commission published a revised European Waste
Catalogue and hazardous waste list in February 2001. This will
add approximately 250 waste types to the hazardous waste list.
As a result it is likely that the UK definition will be amended
so that it includes all "hazardous" waste within the
Directive. This is likely to triple the number of shipments and
producers of such waste, adding a further 250 waste types to the
hazardous waste list.
Examples include pieces of equipment such as computers and florescent
tubes and the number of producers could tripe from 200,000 to
600,000 4. The UK therefore faces a significant increase in the
quantity of waste classified as hazardous. With the imminent restrictions
on hazardous waste disposal to landfill, this is likely to pose
a substantial challenge for industry and government.
14. Recent European legislation governing
waste disposal will now determine which waste can continue to
be landfilled. Principally the Landfill Directive, agreed in April
1999, sets challenging targets that will restrict certain waste
types being accepted for landfill. The provisions within the Directive
which are of most significance to this inquiry include:
the production of specific waste
acceptance criteria which will determine which wastes can be accepted
requirement to treat waste prior
to landfill disposal;
a ban on a variety of waste that
can be accepted for landfill, including certain types of hazardous
a ban on the co-disposal of hazardous
and non-hazardous waste.
15. The Environment Agency (3) estimate
that compliance with the Landfill Directive will lead to approximately
2.5 million tonnes per annum of hazardous waste being diverted
from landfill. Industry continues to develop new ways to minimise
waste production and to intercept this from landfill, but there
will always be a residual amount of waste produced. Adequate provision
needs to be made for future disposal of this waste. Compliance
is likely to pose significant challenges for government and industry,
these challenges will now be explored.
16. Member States were required to transpose
the Landfill Directive into national law by 16 July 2001. However,
the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulation has only recently
been laid before parliament. Some requirements are already in
force, for example the disposal of liquid, corrosive, oxidising,
flammable and infectious clinical waste in new sites were banned
in July 2001. Other requirements are soon to be enforced. From
July 2002 the above waste types will be banned from existing inert,
non-hazardous and hazardous landfill sites. Co-disposal of hazardous
and non-hazardous waste will be banned in existing non-hazardous
and inert sites from July 2002 and from existing hazardous sites
from July 2004. This demonstrates the short amount of time industry
has left to implement the requirements and comply with the new
17. Unfortunately progress has been slow
and industry is still waiting for general and technical guidance
on how to satisfy numerous requirements of the Directive. This
documentation is urgently required for industry to develop the
correct technology and provisions to effectively manage future
hazardous waste disposal.
18. The Landfill Directive states that sites
must comply with the WAC which determines those wastes that are
acceptable for landfill. This criteria is being developed by the
European Commission's Technical Advisory Adaptation Committee
and was due to be released in July 2001. As from July 2002 landfill
sites will be unable to accept waste which does not meet this
criteria. Sites classified as inert or non-hazardous will be committing
an offence by accepting "hazardous" waste from 16 July
2002. Obviously industry will be unable to comply with this requirement
if they have been unable to view the WAC. Despite this information
being unavailable, the Environment Agency has now acquired powers
to issue closure notices on sites who are still accepting hazardous
but are yet to submit Conditioning Plans.
19. Lack of WAC has posed difficulties for
waste management operators to determine which of their sites will
remain able to accept hazardous waste. This criteria is urgently
required so that operators can determine the level of investment
in new landfill or alternate treatment options. This lack of information
will have a further spin off on waste producers who are left in
the unacceptable situation of being unsure whether their existing
landfill site will continue to accept their waste or whether alternative
arrangements are required.
20. There is some potential for a number
of waste types to fall outside the WAC and so would be unacceptable
for any type of landfill under the new regulations. There is a
great deal of uncertainly about the quantities of such waste.
Industry is now seeking assurances from the government that contingency
plans are being made for the temporary storage and long term disposal
of these waste types.
21. Landfill operators are required to submit
a Site Conditioning Plan to the Environment Agency or Scottish
Environment Protection Agency by July 2002. From this date companies
are required to classify sites as inert, non-hazardous or hazardous.
One of the major challenges to be addressed is the uncertainly
regarding the number of sites which will accept hazardous waste
from July 2004. WS Atkins
stated that results from an early survey illustrated a possible
shortfall in sites accepting hazardous waste.
22. As from July 2004, all waste must be
treated before they are accepted to landfill with the exception
of inert wastes that do not have to be treated if technically
unfeasible. Industry is still awaiting guidance from the Environment
Agency as to what specifically qualifies as pre-treatment. A draft
of this guidance was issued in October 2001 however, industry
still awaits the final version. It is essential that this guidance
be published as soon as possible to enable companies to comply
with the new regulation. There is also concern that there will
be a lack of treatment facilities available. This may lead to
an increased spreading of waste on agricultural land which is
currently exempt from the Waste Management Licensing and Landfill
23. As from July 2002 hazardous waste types
including corrosive, explosive, oxidising and flammable, liquid
and some clinical wastes will not be accepted into landfill. Although
industry is taking steps to reduce this type of waste, it is likely
that some residual waste will still be produced. There is also
a degree of uncertainly regarding the alternative disposal arrangements
for these waste types. For example the question on whether there
is sufficient capacity to divert waste from landfill to other
means such as incineration has also been raised
7 Waste Strategy 2000 Volume 1. Back
Cabinet Office-Tackling Waste: A Performance and Innovation Unit
Scoping Paper December 2001. Back
Environment Agency website: www.environment-agency.gov.uk/news/284345?lang=e®ion=&project. Back
The ENDS Report April 2002 Number 327. Back
WS Atkins Environment "Implementation of the EC Landfill
Directive, Consultants summary report prepared for DETR seminar
9 and 10 February 2000". Back