Waste duties need enforcing
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Awareness and enforcement of waste responsibilities are still lacking, according to experts in the sector.
The environment department (Defra) published a revision of the waste duty of care in March, incorporating changes to legal requirements since the previous version in 1996. Duty of care is a legal requirement for anyone dealing with waste, and covers producers, carriers, dealers and brokers.
The waste sector broadly welcomed the new guidance. Sam Corp, head of regulation at the Environmental Services Association (ESA), said it was much clearer on the legal requirement for organisations to ensure that waste was disposed of correctly after it was passed on to waste carriers. However, he warned: ‘A lot of businesses are not aware of it, nor of the fact that they are in danger of prosecution if they are in breach of it.’
If everyone complied with duty of care, waste would be kept out of the hands of criminals, he added. Waste crime costs the UK around £560m a year in clean-up costs and loss of tax revenue, according to an ESA report in 2014.
The association and the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) are launching a campaign in April called Right Waste, Right Place to advise businesses on how to comply and warn them of the risks of failing to do so.
Peter Jones, senior consultant at Eunomia, welcomed the campaign but warned that on its own it would not be enough if there was almost no risk associated with not complying. ‘Many businesses will see that as a tacit approval of doing the bare minimum.’
Chris Murphy, CIWM’s deputy chief executive, is hopeful that compliance with the duty of care will improve now that the Environment Agency has been given better resources to tackle waste crime and criminals were being jailed.
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