WASTE & THE ENVIRONMENT
(An EBSG service offered to members)
Managing Your Hazardous Waste
Many companies are now keen to demonstrate concern for the environment and are now seeking a way to implementing their corporate social responsibility by an Environmental Policy. Further environmental legislation is being placed on the statute at regular intervals.
EBSG services in these areas now include:
. The development of your Environmental Management Policy
. On-site inspection monitoring of your environmental performance
. Interim environmental audits for ISO 14001 available
Site Waste Management Plans
Construction firms are being urged to take action on waste before the planned enforcement of Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs). These plans became a legal requirement for all construction projects over £300,000 in April 2008. Each year millions of tonnes of discarded and unwanted waste are dumped by the industry, these changes are having a major impact on the building industry.
The SWMPs focus largely on on-site operations and primarily identify:
· An individual responsible for resource management
· The types of waste that will be generated
· Resource management options for these wastes
· The use of appropriate and licensed waste management contractors
· A plan for monitoring and reporting on resource use and the quantity of waste
Key benefits of a SWMP:
· Provides a structured approach to management and recycling on site
· Reduces cost of waste management
· Increased profit margins
· Better control of regulatory risks relating to materials and wastes on site
· Compliance of contractual needs of public and private sector needs
· Help you to deal with any queries from environmental regulatory bodies
2004 Environmental Management Systems specify, with some guidance, the standards and procedures required for construction industry activity. An Environmental Policy should be:
· Appropriate to the nature, scale and environmental impact of the activities
· Include a commitment to continual improvement
· Prevent pollution
· Actions be documented, implemented and communicated to all employees
· Provide a framework for review of the environmental objectives and targets
· Be made available to the public/client
EBSG has linked up with a lead consultancy who is engaged to guide small businesses towards full ISO 14001 accreditation over a two year period. Contact the office for further details.
Key benefits of accreditation:
· A structured approach to environmental matters
· A meaningful tool to use with clients at tender stage
· A measure of performances
· Provides a better control of regulatory compliances
Waste and the Environment
(An EBSG service offered to members) Environmental Regulations to be Reformed to Cut Red Tape.
Defra said simpler and smarter environment regulations will provide savings to businesses of more than £1 billion over five years.
Enforcement will become more targeted, with the Environment Agency providing light-touch enforcement to low-risk industries and the best-performing sites. The focus of enforcement will shift to high-risk industries, and trials will be carried out of third-party audits for high performing sites that could reduce the number of Environment Agency inspections at these locations. Environment secretary Caroline Spelman insisted the government is not watering down environmental protections. “I want to be very clear that this is not about rolling back environmental safeguards, nor is it just about cutting regulation to stimulate growth,”she said. “We’ve always said that we were going to keep the vitally important protection our environment needs. This was about getting better rules, not weaker ones.” Regulations to be scrapped include the Site Waste Management Plans Regulations 2008, which require construction projects predicted to cost over £300,000 to draw up a waste management plan prior to the start of the project. The government has also vowed to reform the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restrictions of Chemicals (REACH) Regulations, saying the regulations allow larger firms to charge small firms unfairly for chemicals data. The reforms of REACH will also bring an end to the ban on selling second hand goods containing asbestos, providing the seller can show people’s health will be properly protected. In addition, the system of Waste Transfer Notes (WTNs) will be reformed to allow businesses to use other forms of evidence instead, such as invoices. An electronic recording system for waste transfer has been introduced since January 2014, and Defra says these changes will save businesses at least £5m a year. Hazardous waste regulations will also be reformed to reduce required paperwork and clearer guidance will be issued. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will also consult on changes to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations with the aim of reducing the amount businesses pay for the collection, treatment, recovery and recycling of their market share of WEEE. Defra will consult on many of the measures they outlined. Other proposals include reducing burdens on small businesses from producer responsibility obligations – for example, by exempting more small portable battery producers from the need to join recovery schemes and Defra rationalising over 10,000 pages of environmental regulatory guidance and 397 related data sets.
The Environment Agency streamlining its guidance by 25% over the next two years Including water abstraction licences and flood risk consents in the Environmental Permitting Regulations to reduce the number of permits required by businesses.
The full Defra proposals can be found at: www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/about/how/regulation
Changes to the Management of Gypsum Waste
Important changes have been made to the management of gypsum waste. These changes aim to minimise the production of the odorous gas, hydrogen sulphide, at landfill. The landfilling of gypsum in cells containing biodegradable waste has been generally prohibited since 2005. However, the Environment Agency had previously allowed construction waste containing small amounts (up to 10%) of gypsum to be landfilled with biodegradable waste deposits. This was purely for pragmatic reasons. This "exemption" is now removed. In effect all gypsum waste deposits must now be separated so that they are not deposited in landfill cells containing biodegradable waste. The Agency has noted these changes in its position statement of November 2008. The criteria for the acceptance of gypsum (and other high sulphate bearing wastes) at landfill are set out in the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2007/3538.
The Agency removed the exemption in light of the findings of new research and concerns over the exemption's misuse. The research ('Sulphate Bearing Waste: Determination of a Concentration Limit for Separate Disposal') did not establish a safe upper limit for the quantity of gypsum waste in a landfill, below which harmful levels of hydrogen sulphide gas would not be produced when deposited with biodegradable waste. In addition, the Agency was concerned that the exemption was being misused in that it was regarded by some as an "authorisation" to positively mix gypsum with other construction wastes up to 10%. The Agency's intention had been for the exemption to operate merely as a practical concession. The Agency has therefore revised its guidance to remove the exemption. The Agency is providing a period of grace to allow for the change. Since 1 April 2009, the Agency has taken action, including prosecution, if waste containing gypsum, is accepted into a landfill cell containing biodegradable waste.
In accordance with the objectives of the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC), the Agency is also seeking to implement the reuse and recycling of more gypsum and other high sulphate bearing waste. According to the Position Statement, reuse and recycling applies in particular to waste loads where gypsum based materials are easily identifiable, such as plasterboard waste.
Separated gypsum waste can be re-used in the production of plasterboard and also as a substance for agricultural soil improvement. The Position Statement notes that the 'first standard for reprocessed plasterboard', was published in September 2008 by the Waste and Resources Action Programme ("WRAP"). This standard outlines quality specifications for the extraction of gypsum from waste plasterboard. It is hoped that the standard will reassure purchasers that such gypsum produced from waste has been made in accordance with rigorous quality standards.
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