Laws and regulations around waste management every business owner needs to know
It is important for businesses to stay on top of changing laws and legislation within their sector, and it can be hard to keep up when working weeks become hectic. Waste management might be an area of your business which becomes an afterthought alone, before even delving into the laws and legislations that come with it.
Scott Hawthorne, founding director at Skips & Bins, providers of quality 240L wheelie bins, has offered a guide to some of the changing laws and regulations in waste management that all business owners should be aware of. ‘With so many conversations around sustainability and keeping businesses in line with government waste strategies, it is important to keep up to date on changes that occur to some of the most prominent regulations and anything new that is introduced. Punishments for failing to follow correct procedures can range from 12 months of imprisonment to an unlimited fine that is at the discretion of the prosecutor.’
It was announced at the beginning of 2023 that upholstered furniture in both business and domestic settings that contain Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) must be disposed of through incinerators rather than landfills. This can be anything from office chairs and sofas to beanbags that contain these pollutants, with the most common being decabromodiphenyl ether.
When damaged, these furniture items can release the POPs into the air which affect both human and environmental health due to their toxicity. This is why the Environment Agency advises storing and disposing of the items in a way that avoids damaging them to reduce the chances of the chemicals being released and further contaminating anything they encounter.
This is especially important for businesses to know as if you are planning on an overhaul of your office space and have furniture you need to dispose of, you may not have known to check it for POPs or know how to properly dispose of it within the regulations set by the government.
The regulatory position statement (RPS) 250 covered the removal of hazardous waste wood from domestic premises, construction and demolition sites, and business properties. Initially introduced in July 2021, the conditions that it placed upon businesses were to guarantee that waste wood from demolition and refurbishment is being sent to a compliant incinerator or co-incinerator. It also states that to be compliant with RPS 250, written systems and processes must be in place to show that you are in line with the waste wood assessment standards of the industry.
This may require a heavy emphasis being placed on making sure that, if you work with or generate a lot of waste wood, you are adhering to governmental standards. However, one update that is crucial for these businesses to know is that it was officially withdrawn on 31 August 2023.
The change came as the RPS 250 allowed for ‘amber’ waste wood from the construction and demolition (C&D) industry to be transported and processed as non hazardous. Efforts from recycling groups like the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) aimed to narrow down the list of harmful waste woods, finding in its research that the hazardous content of most C&D wood waste is less than 1%.
Withdrawing it means that the materials will need to be disposed of through specialist waste plants and services unless they can be tested to prove they are not harmful, and the list of hazardous wood waste has been reduced to ten total materials.
If your business produces packaging, these regulations are a must know. Coming into effect on 28 February 2023, The Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) (England) Regulations 2023 place the ‘producers’ of packaging at the centre of responsibilities.
The regulations outline that producers must account for the environmental effect of packaging becoming waste by fronting the costs of collection and disposal, thus encouraging a reduction in packaging supplied to become waste and focusing on sustainable and recyclable practices.
An Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) fee is required for local authorities and will scale depending on the amount of packing supplied, as well as for producers to curate their data on packaging and report on it from March 2023 to calculate the fees required.
This is so important to note as the term ‘packaging’ is incredibly broad and refers to any material that is designed to cover and protect goods, which can even extend as far as disposable coffee or drink cups. Your business may well fall into the category of producer, so it’s important to be aware of the reporting requirement so you can pay the appropriate fee and avoid any fines.
Businesses across all sectors should have processes in place to not only be aware of existing waste management laws, but also stay updated on any burgeoning plans that are set to be introduced. In certain industries, this could mean forecasting potential focuses that local authorities or governmental bodies may bring out to hit targets. This is especially true within the food and hospitality sector, which could see high intensity short term regulations introduced to meet previous government targets of reducing food waste per capita by 20% by 2025.
Designating resources to have a waste manager or executive in your business can help keep on top of any developments and prevent the need to spread your workforce thin with the required work.