An effective waste management policy should increase recycling rates, cut waste to landfill and save money, so understanding the terminology is vital.
08 January 2018 | Graham Scott
Duty of care
The duty of care legislation applies to all businesses, requiring them to ensure that they produce, store, transport and dispose of waste without harming the environment.
This duty begins from the moment waste is produced and businesses must take all reasonable steps to make sure it is managed correctly through to disposal or recovery. When transferring waste to another person, you must both ensure that the person or business taking the waste is authorised to do so and have a written description of the waste signed by both parties. You continue to have responsibility for your waste even once it is transferred.
Ask the next waste holder where they are going to take the waste and carry out more detailed checks if necessary (for instance, check if it has arrived at its intended destination). Failure to comply with this legislation is a criminal offence. Pulling upon an experienced and reliable waste management partner such as WCRS helps to alleviate these risks and take your organisation down the correct path of best practice.
The waste hierarchy sets out options for managing waste and was made a mandatory requirement in the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC). In order of priority the waste hierarchy is: prevention, reuse, recycle, recover, landfill.
The priority is preventing waste (though it is worth noting that there may be alternative waste management options for food, garden waste and lower-grade wood). Businesses that import or produce, collect, transport, recover or dispose of waste,
or that operate as dealers and brokers, must take all reasonable measures to apply the waste hierarchy when the waste is transferred. All Waste Transfer Notes and Hazardous Waste Consignment Notes have a declaration on them confirming that you have complied with the hierarchy.
The circular economy
A circular economy aims to get the maximum value from every resource and keep it in use for as long as possible, repairing and reusing. At the end of its service life, the product or material should be recycled or sent for energy recovery. This cuts waste, costs, eases environmental effects, and tackles resource scarcity. The government is committed to reducing the UK's huge volume of waste and its Clean Growth Strategy, released in October, reaffirmed this commitment to become a zero avoidable waste economy by 2050.
Zero waste to landfill
Zero waste to landfill is a specific target by which at least 99 per cent of waste produced is diverted from landfill and either reused, recycled or sent to energy recovery. The UK produces more than 300 million tonnes of waste a year and about a quarter of this is business waste: having a zero waste to landfill objective is a fantastic starting point for improving waste management within your company.
Laws on producer responsibility cover packaging, electrical and electronic equipment, batteries and end-of-life vehicles. Producer responsibility is about making sure businesses that provide these goods are responsible for their end-of-life environmental impact. Current regulations require businesses to minimise waste from these products and promote their reuse; ensure that the waste products meet recovery and recycling targets; and design products to reduce material use and enhance reusability and recyclability.
WCRS has produced a free-to-download jargon buster available through its website.
Graham Scott is head of business development at WCRS