Waste Management rules and regs: what every business should know

It can be hard to keep up with ever-changing legislation, but keeping an eye on business waste management is crucial to avoid falling foul of the rules, says Scott Hawthorne, director at Skips & Bins.

Punishments for failing to follow correct procedures are at the prosecutor’s discretion and can range from 12 months of imprisonment to an unlimited fine.

Controlling Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

Since 2023, upholstered furniture in business and domestic settings containing Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) must be disposed of through incinerators, not landfills. This can include anything from office chairs and sofas to beanbags, with the most common pollutant being decabromodiphenyl ether.

When damaged, these items can release toxic POPs into the air, affecting human and environmental health.

Businesses need to check furniture for POPs before disposal, and to make sure it is correctly disposed of.

Withdrawal of RPS 250

The regulatory position statement (RPS) 250 covered the removal of hazardous waste wood from domestic premises, construction and demolition sites, and business properties. Initially introduced in July 2021, businesses had to guarantee that waste wood from demolition and refurbishment was sent to a compliant incinerator or co-incinerator. To be compliant with RPS 250, written systems and processes had to be in place to show your business was in line with industry waste wood assessment standards.

However, RPS 250 was officially withdrawn in August 2023 to allow ‘amber’ waste wood from the construction and demolition (C&D) industry to be transported and processed as non-hazardous. Efforts from recycling groups like the Wood Recyclers Association aimed to narrow down the list of harmful waste woods, finding in their research that the hazardous content of most C&D wood waste is less than 1%.

The list of hazardous wood waste has been reduced to ten materials in total. Materials need to be disposed of through specialist waste plants and services unless they can be tested to prove they’re not harmful.

Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) (England) Regulations 2023

If your business produces packaging, these regulations are a must-know. With effect from February 2023, The Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) (England) Regulations 2023 place packaging ‘producers’ at the centre of responsibility

Producers must account for the environmental effect of packaging becoming waste by fronting the costs of collection and disposal, thus turning the focus on more sustainable and recyclable solutions.

A local authority Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) fee is required and scaled depending on the amount of packing supplied. Producers must curate their packaging data and report on it to calculate the required fees.

This is important to note as the term ‘packaging’ is incredibly broad and refers to any material designed to cover and protect goods, even extending as far as disposable coffee or drink cups. Your business may well fall into the category of producer, so it’s important to be aware of reporting requirements to avoid the risk of fines.

Businesses of all types should have processes in place to keep track of existing waste management laws, as well as the introduction of new ones.

In certain industries, this could mean drawing up forecasts to meet potential new targets from local authorities or the government. This is especially true within the food and hospitality sector, which could see high-intensity short-term regulations introduced to meet previous government targets of reducing food waste per capita by 20% by 2025.

A designated waste manager in your business can help keep track of developments and avoid giving your staff an extra workload burden.


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