Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum submitted by the National Household Hazardous Waste Forum (NHHWF) (E 14)


  Established in 1993, the National Household Hazardous Waste Forum is a sector-led initiative to seek practical solutions to the many problems associated with the management of household hazardous waste (HHW) and its packaging, including the collection, recycling and safe disposal of HHW. Though focusing on domestic waste, the Forum also considers municipal hazardous waste including that arising from small quantity generators in the commercial sector.

  The Forum has developed a definition of HHW: "any material discarded by a household which is difficult to dispose of or which puts human health or the environment at risk because of its chemical or biological nature".

  The NHHWF is unique in its' multi-sector membership. There are some 200 members, including raw material suppliers, manufacturing and packaging companies, trade associations, retailers, local authorities, waste management and equipment companies, water utilities, waste regulators, institutions and voluntary organisations. Between them, these organisations represent all the stakeholders in municipal hazardous waste supply chain—from manufacture of products to final disposal of waste.

  The Forum provides the following services to its members:

  1.  Informs members about developments in the field of HHW.

  2.  Undertakes specific research into HHW issues and develops new ways of managing HHW.

  3.  Engages in constructive dialogue with government departments, industry associations and non-governmental bodies.

  The Community Re-Paint scheme was set up in response to research carried out by the Forum.

  The Forum runs the UK Oil Care Campaign, in partnership with the Environment Agency.


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

  4.  The Forum welcomes any policies which reduce the arisings of household hazardous wastes either through substitution, minimisation or recycling.

  5.  There are a number of pieces of recent and pending legislation which will have a profound impact on our member's activities. In general the legislation has been characterised by belated consultation and poorly defined standards which have taken little account of the additional cost burdens imposed.

  6.   Waste Strategy 2000 sets ambitious targets for recycling of domestic/municipal waste in England. The Scottish Executive's equivalent has far more detailed targets, however and includes specific strategies relating to hazardous waste. Such an approach would be useful in England. Nonetheless, if the targets in Waste Strategy 2000 are to be met, the hazardous component will have to be removed from the general domestic waste stream; indeed there will have to be source separation even into none hazardous fractions. This is supported by the NHHWF as long as such changes are practical, for instance in terms of the number of waste bins per household, and funded so that householders are not financially disadvantaged by recycling.

  7.  Clarification is needed over which types of household hazardous waste (if any) will need to be source-separated for collection or for delivery to a CA site.

  8.  There is a need for greater equity in the implementing of EU legislation in different member states. We consider that current and planned hazardous waste legislation in the UK is far more stringent and prescriptive than in many member states.

  9.  The Landfill Directive should be in force from July of this year, yet confusion still abounds for the landfill operators as to what timetable will be followed and what acceptance criteria will be applied. As a result there is considerable uncertainty for our members regarding future costs and availability of landfill for hazardous wastes arising from their operations.

  10. The cost of adding EWC codes to all waste transfer notes under the Landfill Directive will represent a major new burden to certain of our members as this will necessitate major changes to their IT systems in some cases.

Examine 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 inasmuch as they deal with hazardous or special wastes

  11.  The government shows a lack of preparedness in recognising and responding to the requirements of impending EU legislation. Those likely to be affected (eg industry, retailers, local authorities) need clarity and decisiveness when new legislation is posed, not the delays and obfuscation that seem to be the norm. The government tends to be led by Europe rather than recognising the advantages in responding early to change.

  12.  Early, definitive rulings are required (eg the ODS guidance is still only in draft form; Landfill Directive guidance is not issued; there is no agreed funding mechanism for ELV Directive; Waste Strategy 2000 has no definitive targets).

  13.  There needs to be recognition of the costs that will accrue from these regulations, particularly to local authorities—although they are well placed to respond. We support the concept of Producer Responsibility and recognise that the funds needed to pay for increased costs need not originate from the government, in the long term.

  14.  The ODS Regulations are a case in point where the government was slow to see the potential scope of the EU Regulations and it was our members who raised the issue of the costs which would fall onto local authorities and secured additional burden funding. We note that the ODS Regulation is subject to a separate inquiry, and indeed refrigeration equipment is not yet "Special", however we believe the conduct of this matter is salient to the remit of this Select Committee as another example of reactive rather than proactive legislation where standards have not been set in time to allow industry to prepare or for waste producers to make adequate provisions. The complexity of the waste streams affected means that the WEEE Directive could potentially be even more damaging.

  15.   The Incineration of Hazardous Waste Directive, the Landfill Directive, Waste Oils Directive and the revised Special Waste Regulations will change the way in which recovered fuel oil (RFO) is classified. Currently, there is a very good market for RFO in the UK and the infrastructure to collect and treat waste oil. The oil is processed to remove water and solids and then sold as fuel to the power generation and roadstone industries.

  16.  Under the new regulations RFO will be classified as (special) waste. As a consequence it is unlikely that the current outlets will continue to accept it due to the additional investments which would be required in licencing and, potentially in emissions control/monitoring. The only disposal options would therefore be for RFO to be burned in cement kilns or in High Temperature Incinerators for which a charge will be made instead of the current credit.

  17.  As there is insufficient (cement kiln) capacity to deal with the quantity of RFO available, and rising costs (if classified as special waste), the waste oil industry will suffer. This will have knock-on effects for the local authorities that operate oil recycling banks as there will be no market (and rising costs) for the oil that they collect. As one third of all water pollution incidents are oil related, the effect may be to see these increase if there is no disposal outlet for waste oil.

  18.  Another outlet for waste oil is burning in small space heaters. Whilst we agree with the requirement to control pollution from this source, it is important that this practical and accessible recovery option for waste oil is not prevented through excessive administrative and financial burdens.

  19.   The End of Life Vehicles Directive will soon be in force and end of life vehicles will also soon be classified as "Hazardous". However the mechanisms for funding have still not been agreed. Once more our members are finding it difficult to adequately budget or otherwise provide for what could be a profound change in the management of end of life vehicles. Those in the vehicle dismantling industry who invested in "depollution" centres have found themselves to be uneconomic in the absence of strong and decisive regulation.

  20.   The WEEE Directive, like many Directives from the EU, enshrines to goals of Producer Responsibility and material conservation, and as such is supported by the NHHWF. We note that whether kerbside or bring schemes are adopted, the "first line of defence" is most likely to be the local authorities. For this approach to be successful, the funding mechanisms must be clear. Once collected, facilities for processing WEEE are required and this will require investment from the Waste Management industry. Such investment funds are unlikely to be committed until there is clarity regarding the UK's interpretation of the Directive.

  21.  The government needs to ensure that legislation supports re-use schemes, which benefit local communities and that, as opposed to the ODS Regulations, established take-back and recycling schemes are not compromised by the new Directive.

  22.  Clarification over whether collections or source separation from households will be required.

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

  23.  The Revised Special Waste Regulations are welcomed by the NHHWF subject to proper consultation. Unfortunately this has not yet been the case. Following issue of the First Draft of the revised SWR, the second round consultation has been delayed, so far by some 9 months. As the deadline for implementation to avoid infraction proceedings from the European Commission approaches, it is likely that the timescales for consultation will be compressed and no proper debate will take place. We understand that some of the overly bureaucratic elements of the first draft revisions are to be removed but are not sure at this stage which will be left in place.

  24.  We agree with many of the proposals of the Revised Special Waste Regulations, as they stand, but some will have serious implications for the management of household hazardous waste and the community sector. For example, one proposal is a narrowing of the definition of household waste to domestic waste only, in the context of exempting such waste from the legislation. The NHHWF supports the consistent application of legislation across all sectors, however it is imperative that account is taken of the additional cost burden which will fall on SMEs, charities and similar organisations. The rationale is that these types of organisation do not generate hazardous waste. This is not the case and without tax reliefs or other measures some organisations may fold.

  25.  The revised SWR could have a deleterious impact on good, well-run recycling schemes. One example is Community Re-Paint. This award winning national scheme diverts household and commercial paint to local community enterprises, who donate it to local charities and good causes. The scheme thus minimises the production of potentially hazardous waste and supports communities. Although the donated paint is not defined as waste, paint rejected by the Re-Paint enterprise could be and this would be defined as special waste. Rigid and expensive legislation applying to this small fraction would threaten the whole Re-Paint scheme. It is imperative that this does not happen, both for the continued success of this particular scheme and also the potential to use it as a model for minimising other types of potentially hazardous waste.

  26.  Conversely the reclassification of certain wastes as "Hazardous" (for instance fluorescent tubes) will, we believe, encourage their recycling in that it will force source separation. The key issue is that proper account is taken of the range of different waste types and recycling markets.

  27.  The continued exemption for agricultural and household waste from classification as hazardous even in the proposed revisions to the Special Waste Regulations increases the ability of these sectors to pollute and reduces the opportunities for recycling. Indeed the fact that, if separately collected, the hazardous fraction of the municipal waste stream will be "Hazardous" but if left co-mingled it is not "Hazardous" is a strong disincentive to recycling.

  28.  The UK's planning system hampers the ability of industry to deliver new hazardous waste treatment facilities within the required timescales. It is often difficult to obtain planning permission for facilities for treating and disposing of even low hazard waste such as WEEE.


    (a)  We support concept of producer responsibility.

    (b)  There should be a proper consultation prior to legislation being implemented.

    (c)  The timescale for such consultation should be sufficient to allow the UK stakeholders to respond fully to EU and UK proposals. Too often it is not sufficient.

    (d)  Deadlines for legislation and policies to come into force must be both longer and clearer, to allow stakeholders time to plan new ways of managing hazardous waste. Lack of clarity and forewarning has led to a climate of confusion and a lack of confidence in the way legislation is made.

    (e)  Funding or changes in the tax regime needs to be made available to support the increased costs of new legislative compliance in the SME, charitable and public sectors.

    (f)  Changes in legislation must not threaten existing or potential good practice in the minimisation and management of wastes, nor should they add an unacceptable cost burden onto the SME, charitable and public sectors.

    (g)  We support a risk-based approach to hazardous waste law, with an emphasis on the control of wastes shown to have the highest risk.

    (h)  It is our view that as many diverse pieces of legislation are passed down from the EU relating to Hazardous Waste the UK would benefit from a coherent overarching Hazardous Waste Strategy which would enshrine proper planning and consultation processes as well as setting clear targets with realistic timetables for hazardous waste substitution, minimisation and recycling and, where appropriate, provide funding or tax regimes to deliver these objectives.

  In conclusion, the NHHWF notes that it's members wish to contribute to sustainable development in the UK. NHHWF members are waste producers, waste regulators and waste managers. Our members want to contribute to the responsible management of HHW but can only do it where there is certainty in the regulation and legislation and the funding to deliver.

National Household Hazardous Waste Forum

17 May 2002


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