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New hazwaste rules encourage better technology

Waste management companies dealing with hazardous wastes are being encouraged to look at new treatment options after the Environment Agency welcomed the end of two waste management practices that posed unacceptable risks to the environment.

From today (1 July 2008) hazardous waste with a total organic carbon (TOC) content of more than 6% will no longer be accepted for landfill. And from 10 November 2008 all mixing pits – pits for mixing and treating hazardous wastes – will have to cease operating.

Liz Parkes, Head of Waste at the Environment Agency said: “These changes represent a huge step forward in protecting the environment by improving the way that hazardous waste is managed. However, there is still much to do to reduce the amount of hazardous waste that we produce and find better solutions for its management.

“We encourage those businesses that produce hazardous wastes with high organic content or that send their wastes to mixing pits to talk to their waste contractors about alternative management options. We are also keen to see waste management companies come up with new solutions for treating and disposing of these wastes.”

The main source of waste over the 6% TOC limit is contaminated soil, so the land remediation, land developing and construction industry particularly need to take notice of the new rules.

Mixing pits processed some 150,000 tonnes of hazardous waste in 2006 – the majority of this waste (around 90,000 tonnes) being generated by the waste management industry itself.

The Environment Agency has been clear to industry since 2006 that mixing pits had to close this year. Two of the nine sites operating mixing pits at that time have already closed down and most of the other sites have alternative treatment technology in use or in development.

“As the date for mixing pit closure approaches, we are encouraged to see the waste management industry investing in replacement technology to deal with hazardous wastes,” Liz Parkes said. “Until now the development and operation of new technology has been undermined by the fact that mixing pits have long been the low-cost option for mixing and treating hazardous wastes.”

For more information on hazardous wastes visit http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/subjects/waste

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