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Waste Awareness Part 3 – Waste Disposal

In the third of our four-part mini series on waste awareness we’re going to set out details regarding waste disposal. Disposing of waste is the very last option identified in the waste hierarchy set out in our last post.

Waste Strategy

Landfill is a major source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. The EU Landfill Directive set ambitious targets for the reduction of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill, including:

  1. Reducing municipal waste to landfill to 35% of the 1995 tonnage by 2020;
  2. Banning co-disposal of hazardous waste & non-hazardous waste;
  3. Requiring separate landfills for hazardous, non-hazardous and inert waste;
  4. Banning landfill of tyres and certain other wastes;
  5. Banning landfill of liquid wastes, infectious clinical waste and certain types of hazardous waste together; and
  6. Increasing standards of landfill.

Meeting these target is a major challenge and the Government has introduced its Waste Strategy for England concentrating on the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own separate strategies.

The Government has placed a number of restrictions on waste disposal. These include financial tools such as Landfill Tax and making other ways of dealing with waste more financially attractive.

Waste Transfer

There are a number of waste transfer routes that lead to effective waste disposal.  All parties, including the waste producer, have a legal responsibility to receive or dispatch waste in a way that satisfies their duty of care.

The responsibilities of each person in the waste chain are as follows:

  • Waste Producer – The producer needs to know the waste produced so that important financial, legal or environmental decisions on how to handle the waste can be made. The type of waste will dictate how it’s handled and stored to meet safety and environmental obligations.

The producer will need to segregate waste depending on its waste disposal route. For segregation to be effective it should be done as close as possible to the point of waste production. Once the waste has been segregated, the waste producer needs to decide on the best waste disposal route by:

  1. Appointing a registered waste carrier;
  2. Contracting with a registered waste broker; or
  3. Delivering waste to a suitably licensed waste facility direct.
  • Waste Broker – Brokers deal with complex hazardous waste and waste produced across multiple sites. Brokers will contract with other waste specialists to provide a complete waste service from collection to waste disposal. All brokers must be registered and license by the Environment Agency.
  • Waste Carrier – Waste carriers are specialist contractors with purpose-built vehicles or containers for carrying waste. Waste carriers must be given adequate description of the waste so that it can be transported safely and transferred onto the next person in the chain.

A waste carrier is only responsible for the waste described by the producer.  Checks are always carried out by the waste carrier to ensure that the waste is as described, so far as reasonably practicable. If the waste is wrongly described, the producer remains responsible for it, not the carrier. The waste carrier must keep appropriate documentation about the waste it carries. Waste carriers also need to be registered and licensed with the Environment Agency.

Waste Disposal

There are a variety of waste disposal facilities throughout the UK. Because of their specialised knowledge, they are in prime position to identify where something has gone wrong further up the chain (e.g. wrong description, wrong waste). It’s not uncommon for a waste disposal facility to reject waste where it has been incorrectly described.

Once they have accepted waste, a waste disposal facility has a responsibility to process the waste in the manner prescribed by it’s licence or permit. It also has to ensure best environmental practice. There are different types of waste disposal facilities:

  1. Transfer Stations – They bulk up waste to make transportation more efficient. They also sort and separate materials for recycling (known as Material Recovery Facilities or MRFs). The bulked up waste will go to landfill, recovery or treatment, in larger containers or vehicles.
  2. Thermal Treatment Facilities – These facilities subject wastes to heat treatment, converting the waste into another form and recovering energy from the material. Two types of waste normally incinerated are either combustible household, industrial and commercial waste or hazardous waste. Thermal Treatment Facilities have to meet stringent standards for all emissions and require complex equipment to clean the discharges to the environment.
  3. Treatment Facilities – These operations process the physical or chemical treatment of waste so that it’s a useful secondary material or more suitable for landfill. Examples include composting, oil and solvent recovery, refuse derived fuel and solidification.
  4. Landfill – This process places waste below or above ground to get rid of it. At the same time land is restored to its previous level or provides an attractively mounded landscape. The Landfill Directive has restricted what waste can go to landfill. Biodegradable and hazardous wastes cannot go to landfill without some sort of pre-processing in a treatment facility.

Waste Audit

An essential feature of good waste management practice is waste auditing. This enables a business to gain detailed knowledge of the waste it produces. A waste audit will identify:

  1. Types of waste
  2. Quantities of waste; and
  3. Points of waste production.

Waste audits are carried out in a systematic way and legal obligations are considered at each stage. Carrying out a waste audit includes waste data collection and a review of processes. From this information it’s possible to see which activities in a business produce waste and what types of waste. Consideration can also be given to how raw materials, processes or waste handling methods can be changed to reduce or prevent waste production.

 If you have any questions about effective waste disposal and waste management for your office, call The Organised Cleaning Company on 020 74584433 and talk to one of our team today!

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Matt Harris

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