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Disposal of Waste Regulations: What is the current legislation?

Disposal of Waste Regulations: What is the current legislation?

Adhering to waste disposal legislation plays a key role in initiatives by governments, businesses and individuals to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and prevent pollution.

Proper waste management helps to combat climate change and optimise resources. UK waste disposal legislation ensures that business owners follow the guidelines to reduce, reuse and recycle, along with disposing of waste safely.

Commercial enterprises must be aware of the disposal of waste regulations applicable to their specific activities. The UK’s safe disposal of waste legislation details what businesses must do to be legally compliant.

Overview of current waste disposal legislation

Multiple tiers of government monitor and regulate compliance with waste disposal legislation in the UK. These include environment agencies and local authorities. Some laws are applicable throughout the UK, while others are country- or region-based. These laws and regulations encompass various waste disposal areas, such as waste handling, collection, treatment and disposal.

The Waste Regulations 2011 

The Waste Regulations 2011 are disposal of waste regulations that determine that UK businesses must separate paper, plastic and glass from food and other general waste. These dry recyclable materials must also be collected separately.

In Wales, all businesses, charities and public institutions and facilities must sort waste and ensure separate collection. The sorting categories are:

  • Food.
  • Paper and card.
  • Glass.
  • Metal, plastic and cartons.
  • Unsold textiles.
  • Unsold small waste electrical and electronic equipment (sWEEE).

The Environmental Protection Act 1990

Controlling waste generated by industrial operations, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 covers all aspects of waste management from production and transport to storage, treatment and disposal.

As such, it imposes a ‘duty of care’ on companies to responsibly and safely handle their waste. These waste disposal regulations also detail waste collection by local authorities.

The EU Landfill Directive

This waste disposal legislation formed by the EU aims to minimise the use of landfills and the ecological consequences of these sites. Any land-based rubbish disposal site must comply with these regulations. 

It covers the layout, location and management of rubbish dumps, which includes the: 

  • Handling of biodegradable waste.
  • Categorisation of waste as municipal, hazardous, safe or inert.
  • Types of waste approved for landfills.

H3: Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005

This extended law encompasses special waste and any other material with substances and characteristics that can endanger human and environmental wellbeing. It covers toxic and non-toxic, potentially harmful waste. The disposal of hazardous waste regulations include televisions, computer displays, aerosol cans, spray paints and batteries. 

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

This waste disposal legislation came into effect in 2013. Its main objective is to reduce electrical and electronic waste and encourage reuse and repurposing. 

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Schemes

As part of intended disposal of waste regulations, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) will become effective in October 2025. These rules hold manufacturers accountable for household packaging materials.

It covers everything from large, white appliance boxes and packing materials to grocery packaging. Companies must consider:

  • How packaging is made.
  • Packaging costs and environmental impacts related to separating, collecting, recycling or discarding.  

Landfill Tax Regulations

The payment of landfill taxes aims to discourage the use of landfills and encourage people to resort to alternatives such as reusing and recycling. These levies nudge people to look for alternatives and carry out eco-friendly waste management practices.

Business owner responsibilities under waste disposal regulations

Business owners have a ‘duty of care’ to minimise environmental impacts through legal and safe waste management practices. This responsibility covers waste:

  • Production.
  • Imports.
  • Transports.
  • Storage.
  • Treatment.
  • Disposal.

Business owners must conduct thorough waste management assessments and ensure that:

  • A waste management plan is set up and implemented.
  • Generated waste is stored safely.
  • Suitable waste disposal services are contracted.
  • Toxic, harmful or potentially harmful waste is handled by authorised parties.
  • Records are kept of generated and disposed waste, detailing disposal or repurposing practices.
  • Staff are trained so that waste management procedures are followed.
  • They partner with waste management specialists and authorities to streamline eco-friendly protocols and guarantee legislative compliance.

Challenges & considerations in waste management 

Depending on the size and activities of a business, implementing waste management regulations and new initiatives may be challenging. There are several challenges that businesses need to consider.

Compliance costs

Waste management costs depend on the nature of a business and the type and amount of waste generated. Standard landfill tax rates are £126.15 per tonne. Businesses must budget for waste management infrastructure that includes:

  • Recycling equipment.
  • Waste transportation and waste collection costs.
  • Recycle containers and signage.
  • Skip hires.
  • Waste management contracts and labour costs.

Hazardous waste management

Should a business produce, store, handle or dispose of hazardous waste, it must comply with the mentioned legislation. These harmful substances include:

  • Asbestos.
  • Chemicals.
  • Batteries (including those used in electric vehicles).
  • Paints and solvents.
  • Materials that harm the ozone.
  • Harmful waste containers.

Hazardous waste poses a danger to human, plant and animal life. Companies must therefore identify dangerous materials and implement the required safety measures in their waste management policies and practices. If necessary, businesses must get expert advice or employ experts to manage their hazardous waste.

Regulation changes

Experts continually investigate and test new and improved waste management methods. Legislation often changes to incorporate successful changes. Business owners must stay updated with and implement these changes. An external partner can help businesses to do this.

Illegal dumping & waste crime

Waste crimes include illegal dumping, fly-tipping, permit breaches and money laundering. Those guilty of these acts face harsh penalties and even imprisonment of up to five years. Businesses must know how these actions damage the environment and how to prevent and report any illegal dumping and waste crimes.

Waste minimisation & recycling

Businesses must identify how much waste they produce in total and per zone or area. Owners must investigate how to minimise waste production and, if items or materials cannot be reused, how to recycle them. Companies that minimise and recycle waste can comply with legal requirements more easily. 

Utilising end-to-end waste management

Effective and conscientious waste management is essential for sustaining valuable resources and combating global warming. Understanding the legislation and knowing which regulations apply to a business can be tricky. An end-to-end waste management partner simplifies both legal compliance and implementation by providing waste management services.

Shredall SDS Group is an experienced and legally compliant waste management expert that helps organisations across all sectors with green initiatives. We can assist your business with everything from confidential waste disposal and recycling to WEEE recycling to not only ensure adherence to legislation but also optimise space, document security and overall waste management.

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