Summary of duties
The legal definition of waste is “any substance or object which the producer or the person in possession of it discards or intends or is required to discard”.
Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 places a duty of care on anyone who produces, imports, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of “controlled waste” (i.e. household, commercial or industrial waste), or as a broker has control of it. It requires anyone subject to the duty to take all reasonable measures: –
- to prevent the contravention by anyone else of Section 33 of the 1990 Act;
- to prevent the escape of the waste from his control or the control of any person; and
- on the transfer of the waste to secure that;
- It is transferred only to an authorised person (e.g., someone who holds a waste management licence or is registered as a carrier of waste);
- There is transferred an adequate written description of the waste.
The Environment Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations require the person transferring the waste, and the person to whom it is transferred, to complete and sign a waste transfer note containing specific information. Both parties are required to keep copies of the written description and the transfer for two years.
It is an offence under section 33 of the EPA 1990 to: –
- deposit controlled waste on land without a current waste management licence for the deposit or contrary to the conditions of such a licence;
- carry out the waste disposal or recovery operations listed in Parts III and IV of Schedule 4 to the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 except under and in accordance with a waste management licence; or
- deposit, recover or dispose of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause environmental pollution or harm to human health.
The Regulations set out stringent controls over the most difficult and dangerous forms of waste. The Regulations require each consignment of hazardous waste to be tracked from the moment it is first moved until it reaches a waste management facility.
The Environment Agency (or in Scotland the Scottish Environment Protection Agency) must be notified prior to the movement of hazardous waste, except where the movement is one of a series of movements, which has been pre-notified in accordance with the regulations.
Wastes That Cause Emissions into the Atmosphere
Section 33 and 34 of the Environmental Protection Act place an obligation on the producer and holder of waste such as ozone depleting substances to prevent their release to the atmosphere through their own actions or those of others.
The Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations require, as previously stated, that records of waste transfer and disposal arrangements are kept. A transfer note must be completed and handed to the carrier or authorised waste disposal body. This note (Supplied by Licensed Carrier) contains information about the waste and about the parties to the transference of waste. Copies of a transfer note are to be kept by both parties for a minimum of two years.
The regulations do not require every individual transfer to be independently documented. For example, regular collections of non-hazardous commercial waste or removal of a large quantity of waste by multiple vehicles can be included within a single transfer note, provided that the description and other details about the contents of the waste are covered in the original note. In these instances, one transfer note would be valid for up to one year.
Records should be kept of correspondence between waste disposal authorities and approved recycling organisations as a demonstration that the company has complied with statutory requirements for making arrangements for disposal of waste.
Classification of Waste
|Industrial||Includes waste from commercial garages, maintenance premises, laboratories, workshops, waste from vehicles, vessels and aircraft not used for domestic purposes, waste oils, solvents and scrap metal.|
|Commercial||Includes waste generated from office environments, local and central government premises.|
|Hazardous Special||is known as “Hazardous Waste” in the UK and covered by the Hazardous Waste Regulations Under this Regulation, any waste that is on the EU List and possesses one or more of the hazardous properties set out in the Directive is hazardous waste. In addition, any commercial or industrial waste not on the list but displays one of a few hazardous properties is also classified as hazardous waste. Examples of hazardous waste include mineral oils, asbestos, nickel-cadmium batteries and some waste paints.|
|Inert Inactive||Covers material that does not undergo significant physical or chemical reactions or cause environmental problems when deposited as a landfill under normal conditions. Examples are masonry and brick rubble and uncontaminated soils in their natural state.|
|Non-hazardous||A general term used to refer to waste with no known or immediate hazard connected with its handling or disposal. It may possess some reactive property such as biodegradation that places the waste in this category rather than inert classification. Examples are wood, paper and cardboard.|
|Difficult||Generally used to describe waste that could in certain circumstances be harmful in the long or short term due to their chemical or biological properties. Additionally, this term includes wastes whose chemical properties present handling problems at the point of disposal. Examples include used vehicle tyres. However, some difficult wastes may be hazardous wastes.|
|Toxic||Waste substances and preparations that, if they are inhaled or ingested or if they penetrate the skin may involve serious, acute or chronic health risks and even death. Such wastes will be special if the toxic component is equal to or greater than 3%, or if the wastes contain greater than 0.1% concentration of a very toxic substance.|
Where possible all waste generated by the company will be removed or recycled through interface and agreement with the Client or Principal Contractor. The need for environmental protection forms an integral part of the company business philosophy. The impact that any of our activities, and even those of our clients, might have on the environment is for us a major consideration.
It is the policy of the Company to arrange for the disposal of all waste products regularly, safely and in accordance with statutory requirements. The waste disposal arrangements in place will be regularly reviewed. Recycling initiatives will be taken where reasonably practicable in order to help protect the environment and make better use of resources. The waste strategy of the Company has three key objectives, to: –
- Reduce the amount of waste produced
- Make the best use of the waste produced and
- Choose management practices that minimise the risks of immediate and future pollution and harm to human health.
The strategy is based on a waste hierarchy which ranks the options for managing waste in order of what is best for the environment, starting with: –
- Reduction – reducing the quantity of waste or its hazardousness by using resources more efficiently.
- Re-Use – putting materials back into service so that they do not enter the waste stream.
- Recovery – through recycling, composting or recovery of energy from waste.
- Disposal – the least attractive of the options with the emphasis on ensuring that disposal is undertaken to high standards to make it as sustainable as possible.
The appropriate waste management option for a particular waste stream is the Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO). The BPEO is the option that gives the most benefits and/or least damage to the environment as a whole, at acceptable cost, in long term as well as short term.
Arrangements for Securing the Health and Welfare of Workers
Waste Disposal Containers
Suitable receptacles for the collection of waste are provided in strategic positions throughout the workplace. Each container clearly displays the type of waste that it is designed to hold. Waste products must only be placed into those receptacles that have been allocated for that purpose. Containers must be adequate to prevent the escape of waste. Waste containers are emptied regularly and are removed by an authorised person. If additional disposal facilities are required these may be obtained by request from the Site Manager.
Where it can be determined that certain waste is suitable for recycling, the appropriate containers will be supplied and clearly marked.
Arrangements for the removal of hazardous waste, e.g. liquids, asbestos and other hazardous substances, must be made with an authorised and competent person. Liquid waste, other than normal effluent, must not be poured into the sewers. Arrangements for disposal of liquid waste can be made with an authorised person.
Employees will be supplied with all personal protective equipment necessary for the safe handling of waste materials.
Use of Waste Disposal Equipment
Equipment provided for the preparation of waste must only be used by fully trained and competent personnel who have been authorised to carry out the work. Examples of waste preparation equipment include compactors, balers, shredders and bio-digesters.
The Management Team must ensure that the Company Environmental Policy is adhered to within their area of authority. Special arrangements regarding disposal of waste products must be organised in association with the Waste Regulation Authority or a competent and licensed contractor.
All employees must ensure that they dispose of waste products in receptacles specifically provided for that purpose taking note of any segregation requirements. If an appropriate container is not available, this must be reported to a manager who will make suitable arrangements.
The use of personal protective equipment may be necessary during the handling of some wastes. Any requirement must be established before the waste handling activity commences.
Employees should be aware of their responsibilities under the Duty of Care. Employees must report any problems, which arise regarding waste disposal to the facilities manager or supervisor so that corrective action can be taken.
Information and Training
Suitable and sufficient information and training will be provided, as necessary, to ensure that the Company Environmental Policy is fully understood and adhered to and that no person is put at risk by the inappropriate disposal of waste.
Waste Disposal Procedure
This procedure has been designed to ensure that disposal of waste at the workplace is carried out safely and in accordance with the law.
- Use only designated receptacles for holding waste products. Do not put waste materials in receptacles that have not been allocated for that specific purpose. Take note of any segregation requirements, e.g. for or recyclable materials.
- Do not discard waste carelessly into receptacles; place it properly inside the unit.
- Do not overfill waste containers. Inform a responsible person when additional resources are likely to be required.
- Report any leakage or overflow of waste from a waste container to a responsible person.
- Ensure that any spillage of substances at the workplace is cleared in an approved manner and that any materials that have been used for cleaning are properly disposed of.
- Make a note of any special arrangements or precautions that will have to be taken by the authorised waste remover.
- Unless you are trained and authorised to do so, do not use disposal preparation equipment and machinery.
- Wear any personal protective equipment that is required for the safe handling of waste products.
When procuring goods preference will be given to those that are energy and water efficient, non-polluting (or less polluting), durable, re-useable, re-cyclable, made from re-cycled materials and are not over-packaged. In today’s increasingly competitive market these environmentally preferred goods are not necessarily more expensive than those produced without consideration for the environment.
A hierarchical approach to waste management based upon the 3 R’s should always be kept in mind when an item is no longer needed for its original purpose: –
- Reuse – seek to reuse the item within a different location within the facility or another external facility.
- Repair – if broken, seek to repair the item before buying new, thus saving money and avoiding wasting resources.
- Re-cycle – seek to re-cycle paper, printer and toner cartridges, bottles, cans, plastics and other items so that raw materials and energy are not wastefully used in producing new items.
- Disposal – the last resort after all options have been considered.
Remember – Many items may have a scrap value that can be converted into a potential further income and in-addition, re-cycling will reduce the quantity of waste removed for disposal thus bringing an additional saving.
Waste audits should be conducted to measure consumption and the types and amounts of waste produced. The information should be used to establish a baseline against which progress can be measured. The waste audit should: –
- Assess the level of compliance with the Duty of Care on the handling, storage and disposal of the waste;
- Identify all points at which waste is produced;
- Establish methods for measuring the waste for monitoring;
- Identify costs of the current disposal method, including storage and transportation;
- Identify any wastes that are hazardous and consider how they may be “separated” or “replaced”;
- Look at opportunities to reduce, reuse or re-cycle the waste;
- Establish priorities for waste minimisation schemes that take into account the environmental impact of different waste streams, legal implications and financial constraints.
The most efficient way to reduce waste is to reuse resources more efficiently and to cut down on the amount thrown away. This is why waste disposal should be considered at every stage from procurement and use to disposal (Life Cycle Assessment). It is also good practice to look for opportunities to reuse and re-cycle used and unwanted goods and materials, especially as this can sometimes reduce waste disposal costs and often raise revenue.