Are you affected?

The Landfill Regulations transpose a European Requirement for all waste to be pre-treated prior to landfill. Any business that produces waste is required to ensure that their waste is pre-treated prior to disposal at landfill.

What is required?

‘Pre-treatment’ means that the waste must undergo a weight reduction or a change in its nature. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, this generally means removal of a proportion of the waste for recycling that would have gone to landfill. In Scotland, SEPA have applied a more literal translation of the EU requirement for ‘volume reduction’ and allow compaction as a form of pre-treatment.The EA’s view was that this served no environmental benefit which was why they went for weight reduction.

The requirement came into force in October 2007. Right up to the last minute, the EA was stating that it would be strictly applied and that it would be policed by Agency officers visiting landfill sites and conduction audits on waste arriving as the final responsibility for ensuring compliance rested with a landfill site. However, because of the difficulties of policing, the EA seem to have taken a very relaxed attitude and there appears to have been very little enforcement action applied. In fact, it is now very difficult to even find advice on Pre-treatment on the EA website.

From a waste producer’s point of view, you are generally offered two choices by your waste contractor. Either you segregate some of your waste on site for separate collection and recycling or your waste contractor collects it all mixed and has to take it to a sorting facility where some is removed prior to onward transport to a landfill site.

A third compliant route is that the waste is taken to an incinerator, but given the costs for this and the fact that there are very few in the UK, that does not happen much.

A waste contractor is required to make a declaration on arriving at a landfill site that the load has been pre-treated. If they are collecting on a compaction vehicle from a large number of premises eg trade waste from shops and pubs etc and taking the waste direct to landfill, then every one of the sites they collect from must be pre-treating on site ie segregating some waste for separate recycling collection. Every business should now have a question on the Waste Transfer Note provided by their waste contractor asking whether the waste has been pre-treated. A waste contractor should only be collecting waste from sites that have confirmed they are pre-treating if they are taking the waste direct to landfill and it is the waste producers responsibility to make sure that their waste is being correctly dealt with.

Further information