In this post I thought we could look at the basics of managing waste. The requirements are largely based around UK law, but even if not law in the country where you exist these are still likely to set a high standard.
The ‘duty of care’ for waste is a UK legal term. It sets standards for those who create waste to have a certain level of responsibility for it until it reaches the site of final disposal. This is to ensure that waste is not passed to those who might illegally dispose it. It is a requirement of Part 2 Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (commonly known as the EPA 1990).
Preventing the escape of waste
Waste must be stored, transported etc in a manner that it does not escape. Containers must be suitable for the type of waste being stored. They must be protected against spillages, breakage, hazardous weather conditions, damage by trespassers or scavenging by animals (think food waste). For example, if we have a tank on site that contains waste oil it should be protected in the same way as a virgin oil storage tank with a bund that is 110% of the capacity of the tank and impermeable to the contents (virgin oil is legally covered by the oil storage regulations). It is also important to ensure that containers, tanks etc containing waste are labelled as to the contents to assist with waste segregation.
When a waste is transferred it must be accompanied by a manifest. It is sometimes called a transfer note (non hazardous waste) or a consignment note (hazardous waste). Such written information consists of details regarding the waste such as the type, reference number and its journey to the site of disposal. This must be retained by those involved in the transfer for a certain time period. For example in the UK it is 2 years for producers of non-hazardous waste. Regulators use this written information to track the waste should it ever be found to have been illegally disposed.
Those who produce waste are required to ensure that whoever takes the waste away from their sites are registered with a regulator (such as the Environment Agency in England or SEPA in Scotland). It is a legal requirement in the UK that all those who transport waste are registered. You should not use unregistered carriers to take your waste. The registration status of such organisations can be checked online.
Some waste producers will go further to ensure that carriers transport their waste legally. They will sometimes follow waste trucks and/or undertake an audit of the site of final disposal. The initial tender process is often a part of it. All waste management sites must have an environmental permit. The permit sets requirements for a waste site to be managed appropriately. This is to ensure it does not cause a significant environmental impact. Producers of waste often check that the site of final disposal of their waste has a permit. You can check this online on the key environmental regulator’s websites.
Code of practice for waste
If you want to find more about how to manage waste in your organisation then I would highly recommend that you take a look at the official guidance on the subject. It is known as the ‘Waste Duty of Care Code of Practice’. You can find this in either PDF or HTML format HERE.
To manage waste in way that is legally compliant and presents a low risk to the environment an organisation must ensure that:
- It is stored correctly so that it does not escape
- Written information is produced and retained
- Check that those who take waste from a site are competent to do so e.g. they are registered with a regulator.
John Binns BSc (Hons), MSc, MIEMA
With over 19 years’ experience working in environment management, John Binns BSc (Hons) MSc MIEMA is an experienced environmental tutor and consultant with knowledge of health and safety management.