Regulatory Position Statement 228 – storing & treating waste plastic produced from processing WEEE

On the 23rd December 2019, the Environment Agency published a Regulatory Position Statement 228. This Statement addresses concerns regarding the potential for some waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) plastics to contain persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

The Industry Council for Electronic Equipment Recycling (ICER) researched plastics from different WEEE streams. These include plastics found in liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and cathode ray tubes (CRTs). ICER found that the level of POPs is higher than what is allowed by current regulations.

As a result, those WEEE streams are now deemed hazardous and must be classified with an appropriate European Waste Code. The Regulatory Position Statement 228 provides a limited time frame for currently permitted sites to add those relevant waste codes to their permit. The Statement will be withdrawn on 31st July 2020.

In response to Regulatory Position Statement 228, Wiser Environment is in contact with the Policy Advisor at the Environment Agency. We are seeking clarifications on the following points:

  1. The Statement does not appear to address how this may apply to those sites who use Waste Exemptions. For example, those operating under an S2 Waste Exemption (storing waste in a secure place).
  2. There appear to be inconsistencies in the European Waste Codes (EWC). This is because the Environment Agency is suggesting that mixed loads of plastic casings from display equipment must be re-coded as 16 02 15* or 16 02 16.

We will provide an update when we get a response to our clarifications.

As environmental legislation becomes increasingly complex, it is important that industry managers stay well-informed. At Wiser Environment, we have a team of highly-skilled and knowledgeable environmental consultants. If you have any questions or queries about the latest updates to environmental legislation, then contact us or call our team on 01480 462232.

Queen’s Speech December 2019: restrictions on plastic waste exports

In the December 2019 Queen’s Speech, the Government outlined their plans to press ahead with the Environment Bill. One key aspect of this bill is to introduce restrictions to plastic waste exports to non-OECD countries.

The Environment Bill

On the 19th December, the Queen delivered the Queen’s Speech to the Houses of Parliament. As is tradition, the Speech outlined the Government’s forthcoming policies and legislation. Concerning the environment, the Government pledged to continue to work towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To support this effort, the Environment Bill will be advanced through parliament.

The Policy Statement for the Environment Bill was first published in October 2019. The Statement described “a series of measures that will fundamentally change the way government, businesses and individuals produce and consume products”. The Speech elaborates further upon the Statement, acknowledging restrictions to plastic waste exports. Specifically, the Speech outlines the application of waste export constraints to countries that are not members of the OECD:

[The Government] will also ban the export of polluting plastic waste to countries outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and establish a new, world-leading independent regulator in the statute.” (Queen’s Speech December 2019)

Plastic waste export restrictions

In early 2018, China changed its position on importing waste plastic. Since then, alternative markets – like Vietnam – have been vying for the UK’s recyclable waste. However, the National Audit Office queried whether exported plastic is treated to UK standard. Instead, the National Audit Office posits that exported waste is potentially sent to landfill or contributes to pollution.

With this in mind, the Government is seeking to use the Environment Bill to establish a step-change in environmental protection; cracking down on harmful carelessness.

Stay updated

With rising waste management costs and increasingly complex legislation, it is important that industry managers stay informed. Here at Wiser Environment, we have extensive experience in the field of waste and resource management. If you have any questions or queries about the latest updates to environmental legislation, then contact us or call our team on 01480 462232.

New climate change risk assessment for EA bespoke permits

In October 2019, the Environment Agency (EA) introduced an ‘adapting to climate change risk assessment’ for new bespoke waste installation permits and intensive farming installation applications (where the operator expects to operate for more than five years and even if you do not expect the site operations to extend beyond 2050).

Screening for a climate change risk assessment

affects of climate change include increased flood riskWhen completing the relevant environmental permit application form (Part B2 – New Bespoke and Part B35 – Farming Installations), operators are required to calculate their climate change risk screening score. The screening tool compiles three questions of which there are different answers provided with various weightings. A combined score of five or more requires the operator to complete and submit a climate change risk assessment as part of the application form. Information required to complete the screening tool includes timescales, risk of flooding and water use on site.

Completing the climate change risk assessment

Where operators score less than five, they do not need to submit the climate change risk assessment but are still required to complete one and retain it as part of the environmental management system.

A completed climate change risk assessment will consider:

  • Future summer and winter daily temperature maximums
  • Up to a 20% increase in intensity of rainfall events
  • Increase in winter rainfall
  • Sea level rise
  • Drier summers
  • Fluctuations in the flow of water course 40% more at its highest and up to 80% less than now

Note that if the operation lasts less than five years then you do not need to carry out a climate change risk assessment.

Emerging new EA process

The climate change assessment is part of an emerging new EA process for initial technical assessment as part of the duly making checks of applications. This process is becoming more complicated and arguably less transparent, making it much harder for operators to get EA permit applications duly made on the first attempt. The wider implications of this are felt through additional EA charges and significant time delays.

Charles Thomas, Consultancy Director, Wiser Environment says: “We welcome the EA changes to ensure that waste operators take responsibility for their impact on climate change. At the same time, we have concern about the increasing barriers for small businesses to enter the waste industry. We don’t want to see these operators driven out of business or underground. With extensive experience in completing bespoke permit applications, we have fed back our concerns about ensuring the climate change risk assessment is commensurate with the type and scale of activity being carried out. We are working with the Environment Agency to ensure that the process doesn’t outweigh the purpose and that potentially adverse effects on small business are minimised without compromising on the EA’s commendable effects to tackle the climate emergency.”

Net zero emissions

The introduction of the risk assessment follows Government legislating this summer for net zero emissions by 2050.

Last month, the Environment Agency announced that it planned to lead by example in the efforts to tackle the climate emergency by setting itself the aim of net zero emissions by 2030. It plans to do this through a combination of reducing emissions from its own activities and its supply chain as well as tree planting and other carbon offsetting measures.

Find out more about the EA climate change risk assessment

Wiser Environment has already completed a number of climate change risk assessments for clients submitting bespoke environmental permits to the EA. If you would like any further information or assistance on how to calculate your screening score or complete your assessment, please contact us on 01480 462 232. Find out more about our environmental permit application services.

Find out more about the EA climate change risk assessment in their adapting to climate change risk assessment guidance.