The Environment Agency has warned operators to routinely check the chemical classifications they are using adding that waste operators may be ‘mismanaging’ some hazardous materials as out of date information is being used to classify the waste.
This has the potential to pose a ‘serious risk’ to the environment, it adds. The latest guidelines on the classification of hazardous waste – known as WM2 – were published in August 2013, having previously been updated in April 2011. The 2013 guidance stated that operators are required to use the correct classification of each chemical being handled in line with those listed in the EU’s Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances (CLP) Regulations.
Amendments to the CLP occur ‘at least once a year’, according to the Agency which said those that do not check them regularly may not be compliant with their legal requirements.
In a letter to industry stakeholders, the Environment Agency’s Deputy Director of Illegals and Waste, Mat Crocker expressed concern and called for waste firms to carry out a review of the tools they are using to classify material.
Mr Crocker wrote: “We have recently found that a number of companies are carrying out waste assessments using out of date information and as a result they are misclassifying and mismanaging hazardous wastes. This could pose a serious risk to people and the environment, as well as undermining those businesses who are correctly assessing and classifying their waste.
“New hazardous waste criteria are being introduced next summer, and although this is unlikely to change many classifications, it will mean that companies will need to review their assessment procedures.”
Mr Crocker also noted that the Agency has sought to provide advice to members of its Hazardous Waste Treatment Group, but has appealed for wider awareness of the latest technical guidance notes.