New Hazardous Waste Regulations
New hazardous waster disposal regulations are come into force on 16 July 2005 and are expected to impact on around 20,000 sites related to the motor industry, with the Environment Agency having the powers to issue £300 on the spot fines to sites which are in breach of the law. Some things have a way of sneaking up on you, and the new Hazardous Waste Legislation is not different. Of course it doesn’t help when businesses bury their heads in the sand and pretend it’s not going to happen. And to some extent that’s what the UK tyre industry has been doing over these latest environmental rules and regulations. The issue raised its head at the NTDA’s Spring Conference, and highlighted a serious need to raise the industry’s awareness, something the association is trying to do, and quickly.
In the industry’s defence the hazardous waste situation has been a bit sketchy. No one seemed to realise how much it was going to affect the tyre industry until earlier this year, not even the Environmental Agency and the official documents weren’t published until April.
The details are now written in stone. As of the 16th July every business in England and Wales (Scotland is currently exempt) that creates waste that falls into the ‘hazardous’ category must be registered with the Environmental Agency. If they fail to do so they will not be able to have their waste collected. The new law will affect both tyre retailers and manufacturers, however fast fitters are most likely to be hit the hardest. Substances such as lead acid batteries, brake fluid, anti freeze, waste paint, air conditioning gases, even contaminated rags are classified as hazardous waste under the regulations. Manufacturers may think they’re going to get away scot free but even waste such as fluorescent light tubes and computer monitors can only be disposed of through this new licensing system.
The licence required costs between £18 and £28 per site. Each outlet of a retail chain must be registered separately and have its own unique reference number, as must every mobile unit. There is one small exception to the regulations; any site producing less than 200kg per annum of any ‘special’ waste is excluded from the regulations, having said that the EA stresses that any company that sells one battery should register. To put the exemption into context any fast fitter that sells more than 14 batteries a year has to comply.
Waste carriers such as Waste Tyre Solutions are offering to complete businesses’ registrations and the lengthy admin process that goes with it, at a small cost of course. The company has been at the forefront of educating the tyre industry about the waste regulations and is currently handling the registration of between 3,500 – 4000 garages in the UK. The EA advises that registration can also be completed by phone, post or online.
It will be an offence not to register and an offence to use an unregistered collector.
Under the licence collectors are not permitted to accept waste from companies without a registration number. On top of this the collector is now required to provide a quarterly report to the EA detailing the amount of waste collected from each company, and must pay £5 to the agency for each customer it is collecting from.
The EA claims that it is moving away from its desk policy in an attempt to monitor the execution of the Hazardous Waste Regulation. The agency wants to be able to track each company and its waste stream, so that it knows exactly where and how it is being disposed of. It is committing more resources to on-site visits and has the power to issue on the spot fines of £300, without court proceedings, if it decides that a business is not following its duty of care.
And as if the environmental regulations arena wasn’t complicated enough already the Hazardous Waste Regulations have raised both the EA’s and the industry’s concerns about the forthcoming Waste Oil Directive. This comes into place at the end of the year and prohibits power stations from burning waste oil. This could affect the tyre industry as early as September. It is expected that collectors will charge anywhere up to £40-50 per collection and the situation will have a particular effect on dealerships who create a lot of waste oil.
The government is moving more and more into environmental issues, even waste nappies, but it should not be the government’s sole responsibility to regulate such issues. As a country we have specific environmental targets to reach, and it was always going to be difficult to achieve them. Whilst no one is disputing the necessity of the new regulations it is inevitable that the costs incurred by businesses will be passed onto the consumer, but rather this than the environmental costs be passed onto the next generation. Waste has to be dealt with to improve the country no matter what the cost.