| As from 30 October 2007, landfills have no longer been able to accept untreated waste. Despite this requirement being over five years old how aware are you of your obligations? You should review how your business manages its waste and speak to your waste management contractor about this new requirement.
• Find out if your waste is sent to landfill. If it isn’t, then these new rules should not affect your business.
• If your waste is sent to landfill, find out how else you could manage your waste. The way we manage waste in our country is changing and in many cases there are other more environmentally-friendly options available, for example, recycling.
• If you decide to keep sending your waste to landfill, find out if it is treated first. Much of the waste that businesses produce is already treated before it is sent to landfill. In these cases no further treatment is necessary.
Just what is “Treatment”?
The legal definition of treatment requires three things
1. It must be a physical, thermal, chemical or biological process including sorting.
2. It must change the characteristics of the waste. E.g. make some items recyclable or re-usable.
3. It must do so in order to:
(a) reduce its volume, or
(b) reduce its hazardous nature, or
(c) facilitate its handling, or
(d) enhance its recovery.
Are sorting or segregation an acceptable treatment option?
Segregation is equivalent to sorting. Both are acceptable treatments, provided that a reasonable amount of the sorted or separated materials are not sent to landfill. Treating or recovering some of the waste is necessary to reduce the volume land filled or enhance recovery.
Is compaction a treatment?
No, a squashed cardboard box has the same potential for impact on health or the environment.
What practical steps can you take?
Provide separate bins for paper/card, plastics, metal and general waste.
Inform staff of the new or existing segregation arrangements.
Check out specialist schemes for re-using or recycling e.g. ink jet cartridges.
Check out specialist charities and companies who recycle or reuse specific items such as computers, mobile phones, light fittings etc. You may be surprised what can be recycled.
What is the difference between re-use and recycling?
Re-use reuses the item in the same form again and again, possibly with minor adjustment or cleaning or refilling.
Recycling is officially where the product is processed in some way to make a new product or material. E.g. glass milk bottles returned to the dairy are re-used, plastic bottles separated and melted to make thermal fleeces are being recycled.