Advice for anyone who wants to dispose of hazardous waste at a landfill site after 16 July has been published by the Environment Agency.
The introduction of the Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) in July means that more stringent sampling, testing and treatment of hazardous waste such as contaminated soils and chemical waste will be required before it can be sent to landfill.
Under the current arrangements, hazardous waste already needs to be segregated and disposed of at specially licensed sites. Under the new rules, any companies and businesses producing hazardous waste, who choose to send it to landfill, will also need to know exactly what the waste is made up of, and whether it meets the WAC.
Landfill operators will not able to accept waste that does not meet WAC. Instead, producers of this kind of waste will have a choice of:
· reviewing their production process to minimise or avoid producing the waste.
· treating or cleaning waste to remove the hazardous compounds so that it can go to a non-hazardous facility, or
· finding alternative disposal routes such as incineration.
The Environment Agency has facilitated extensive discussions between waste producers and managers aimed at ensuring that everyone is ready for the changes. Despite these efforts there are a very small number of industrial processes producing hazardous waste that will not meet the WAC criteria and for which there is currently no alternative to landfill. The Environment Agency has now issued advice to ensure that these wastes continue to be safely managed after 16 July.
These waste streams include a furnace slag from lead-acid battery recycling and used 'pot liners' from aluminium smelting.
In these exceptional circumstances, the guidance sets out additional strict criteria that producers and landfill operators will need to satisfy before the waste is landfilled, until alternative methods of disposal or treatment are put in place.
Liz Parkes, Head of Waste Regulation said: “While it is disappointing that not everyone is fully prepared for these changes we do applaud those sectors that have been working with us over the last few months to ensure the best solution for the environment. We will continue to monitor this very closely with Government to ensure there is no increased risk.
“Companies should try wherever they can to minimise or avoid producing waste that cannot meet the new requirements. However, in the very small number of cases where that is not possible, this guidance will help both producers and landfill operators understand what we expect them to do to ensure this waste is handled safely and responsibly.”