Amendments to "special waste" regulations finally emerge

The Government laid amendments to the special waste regulations before Parliament in September, no less than three and half years after it originally proposed the "fine tuning" measures.1

Under the special waste regime, consignors of hazardous waste are required to pre-notify the Environment Agency 72 hours in advance of making a consignment, and pay a £15 fee. The notes accompany the waste during the shipment.

Most of the changes proposed in 1998 (ENDS Report 279, pp 35-36 ) are given effect by the new amending regulations, but only in England. Separate legislation is awaited from the devolved administrations.

Also awaited are amendments to the waste management licensing regulations which were proposed at the same time. These will widen the exemptions from licensing for various special waste recovery activities (ENDS Report 291, p 49 ).

The new regulations have no connection to the far-reaching reforms to hazardous waste legislation proposed last April (ENDS Report 315, pp 47-48 ). Neither do they implement changes that will be required from January 2002 under the revised EU hazardous waste list.

Most of the changes under the new regulations will take effect on 1 November. They include:

  • Carriers' rounds: Waste companies can collect special waste from a number of premises without having to pre-notify the Agency of individual consignments in the collection round. The regulations extend the maximum permitted duration of such a round from 24 to 72 hours. They also require new detail to be recorded in carriers' schedules - to state the postcode of origin of each consignment and a description of the waste.

  • Repetitive consignments: Only one fee is required for a series of carriers' rounds over a seven-day period - but the concession applies only where the carrier is also the consignee. The new regulations extend the arrangement to situations where the carrier is not the consignee. They also make it clear that the 400kg limit applies to each round.

  • Lead acid batteries: As proposed in 1998, the regulations extend the lower £10 fee for consignments of lead acid motor vehicle batteries to all lead acid batteries. Similarly, consignments of any lead acid batteries will be exempt from the requirement to provide the Agency with a copy of the consignment note before the removal of the first waste on the round.

  • Rejected loads: The regulations will require a new consignment note to be issued where waste is rejected by a consignee and is to be shipped to alternative premises. The original note will also have to be annotated to show the consignment which has not been accepted.

  • Updated chemicals data: Determining whether a waste is "special" involves referring to official data on chemicals safety and labelling. The regulations update the regime so as to refer to the latest approved classification and labelling guide, issued in 1999. They also embrace amendments to the 1967 EU Directive on classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances.

  • Fees: The regulations give the Agency a new power to prescribe the level of fees under the regime. Using procedures set out in the Environment Act 1995, the Agency will have to draw up a charging scheme to replace that set out in the 1996 special waste regulations. This will make it easier to increase the £15 consignment fee, or make wider changes.

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