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regime and increasing costs of disposal.

This risk covers the total amount of waste produced, and the destination of such
waste. The raw material section above covers the inputs to the organisation
Chapter 19 “ Aspects of environmental risk 499

and this section covers the outputs. ˜Destination™ refers to the method by which
waste is treated, including:
Reduction; reuse; repair; recycling; recovery (the five Rs of the waste hier-
archy explained below);
Incineration; and
Managing the production and disposal of waste is one of the most significant
environmental challenges facing organisations. In the UK alone there are almost
450 million tonnes per annum produced. Largely waste volumes are produced by
a few sectors (the primary sectors), including the agricultural, construction and
mining sectors which utilise natural resources to the fullest extent.
The method of disposal varies in each country but some are very depend-
ent on landfill disposal of waste and have not managed to develop more strin-
gent waste management and reuse systems. For example, the UK recycling rates
are still only about half those on the rest of the EU members.

The waste hierarchy

Levels of


Re-cycle and Compost

Recovery or Reclamation i.e. energy from waste

Landfill and Disposal

Reduction and prevention: the aim is to prevent the creation of waste by
reducing the purchase of materials, through proper resource reduction
design of products, services and buildings, etc.;
Reuse: return materials to the process and don™t allow inputs to the produc-
tion system to become waste as they are then both a lost resource and
expense as waste disposal is a cost base;
Repair: reconditioning, rebuilding and repairing of materials so they are
again fit for purpose;
Part D “ Overview of the Environmental Aspects of Business Risk

Recycling and composting: recycling is the reprocessing of materials into
new products and it prevents useful material resources being wasted,
reduces the consumption of raw materials and reduces energy usage; com-
posting is the controlled decomposition of organic matter for further use;
Recovery or reclamation: reclaiming energy from resources by incineration; and
Landfill and disposal: the least sustainable, although in some instances
energy can be recovered from landfill sites.
There are specific risks as well like the treatment of hazardous substances defined
as toxic, harmful, corrosive or irritant substances (e.g. chemicals, fuels, pesticides,
radioactive or explosive substances) and as micro-organisms. Particular interest
should be directed to the production, transportation method and movement of
hazardous wastes. Stewardship initiatives include efforts to improve product
design to minimise negative impacts associated with manufacturing, use and final
disposal. Materials of particular interest are those that qualify as ˜hazardous™,
˜explosive™, ˜oxidising™, ˜highly flammable™, ˜flammable™, ˜irritant™, ˜harmful™, ˜car-
cinogenic™, ˜corrosive™, ˜infectious™, ˜teratogenic™, ˜mutagenic™, ˜toxic™ or ˜ecotoxic™.
The best method of dealing with waste is of course reduction. This
involves the clever use of purchasing techniques to reduce the level of inputs
into an organisation, thus reducing waste by default. In the Japanese business
philosophy of Kaizen, any waste is, in effect, a paid-for resource which was sur-
plus to requirement; i.e. an inefficiency which has to then be avoided.
The graph below shows the environmental risk (net) from waste generation
by sector.
Waste Generation


Net (Residual) Risk



0.0% 1.0% 2.0% 3.0% 4.0%
Gross (Inherent) Risk

Case studies
In the EU, two-thirds of waste is landfilled, whereas waste recycling rates have
shown a rather limited increase over the recent years. The EU is now pursuing a
Chapter 19 “ Aspects of environmental risk 501

policy of landfilling waste only as a last resort. Waste that cannot be recycled is
planned to be incinerated and this will cause its own repercussions. Land contam-
ination is reviewed in depth under the historical liability section. Raw material
reductions (the minimisation of waste) are considered in a previous section of this
chapter. Examples of how waste disposal can go drastically wrong are:
Airlines in the US ˜throw away enough aluminum cans every year to build 58
new 747s. It™s the same story with paper and plastic™, said Dr Allen Hershkowitz,
a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) (Green
Biz.com, 15 December 2006);
Australians are creating a small mountain of e-waste as they discard their old
computers, prompting industry calls for nationwide regulations on recycling
and disposal as discarded computers and electronic goods are growing three
times faster than regular waste. Official figures estimated Australia, a coun-
try of 20 million people, discarded or stockpiled a total of 8.7 million com-
puters by the end of 2006;
Globally the situation is severe enough as each year up to 50 million metric
tons of e-waste is generated worldwide. To meet this risk the representatives
of 120 governments are pledging to fight the rising tide of electronic waste, or
e-waste, with projects to take back obsolete electronics and with ˜urgent
action™ to fight illegal e-waste traffickers (Nairobi, Kenya, 4 December 2006,
from Environmental News Service);
A London-based multinational commodities company is facing a £100 mil-
lion claim for compensation over allegations that it arranged to dump 400
tons of toxic waste in Ivory Coast, causing the deaths of 10 people and injur-
ing up to 100 000 (The Independent, 10 November 2006);
Britain™s government has told supermarkets and food producers to do more to
cut the volume of food waste and packaging or they could face regulation that
would force them to do so;
New technology will increasingly be used to find non-compliance and to
detect leaks and illegal waste sites. An example is that the Japanese Ministry
of Environment is developing a radar-based search technology deployed in
helicopters to detect waste like metal, wood or sludge by using radar; and
Shell™s Brent Spar oil platform in the North Sea had its disposal at deep sea
approved by the UK government and only considered other waste management
options (recycling in Norway) after a highly public campaign by an NGO.

Legal risks
European laws on waste management are based around principles for licensing
and inspection regimes to ensure there is no harm, primarily to human health,
and generally to the environment. In the EU there are frameworks on general
waste (75/442) and hazardous waste (91/689). There are more detailed direct-
ives on a range of other waste streams including: electrical equipment, haz-
ardous wastes (like batteries, titanium dioxide and PCBs), incineration,
landfill, packaging, vehicles, waste oils and integrated pollution prevention.
Part D “ Overview of the Environmental Aspects of Business Risk

Under waste disposal rules covering waste transport, treatment and dis-
posal, a company faces a set fine. However, the trend is towards changing a per-
centage of profits or turnover. At present, EPA 1990, Section 34 places a
statutory duty of care upon anyone who produces, keeps, treats, carries or dis-
poses of ˜controlled waste™:
Household waste: means waste from domestic property (including caravans
and residential homes); premises forming part of an educational establish-
ment; or hospital or nursing home;
Industrial waste: means waste from any premises used as a factory; for the
provision of public transport services, the supply gas, water, electricity,
postal, telecommunications services or sewerage services;
Commercial waste: means waste from premises used wholly or mainly for
trade, or for the purposes of sport, recreation or entertainment; and
˜Special waste™: mean waste under the following headings “ ˜explosive™, ˜oxi-
dising™, ˜highly flammable™, ˜flammable™, ˜irritant™, ˜harmful™, ˜toxic™, ˜carcino-
genic™, ˜corrosive™, ˜infectious™, ˜teratogenic™, ˜mutagenic™, ˜toxic™ or ˜ecotoxic™.
These types of waste have specific and more stringent provisions applying to
their storage, handling and transportation.
Under UK law a company should identify the types of waste it generates and
the specific hazards associated with each type. Individual waste streams
should then be properly labelled so that they, and the dangers they pose, are
clearly ascertainable. When a company transfers its waste to a waste manage-
ment company, it must provide the person to whom the waste is being trans-
ferred with a written description of the waste. The company must keep a copy
of this written description, together with a written note recording the transfer,
for a period of two years after the transfer.

Waste packaging
Packaging and packaging waste: the Producer Responsibility Obligations
(Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997. This involves the obligations of those who
manufacture packaging, manufacture the materials for packaging or sell the
packaging onto customers. They now have to:
Register and supply data on volumes handled annually;
Recover and recycle a percentage of the previous year™s production; and
State and complete a certificate of their compliance with the previous year™s
If a company falls within the criteria stipulated within the UK™s Producer
Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (SI 1997 No.
648) (as amended), it is obliged to recover and recycle a specific amount of its
annual packaging waste and to demonstrate compliance by submitting certain
information to the EA or SEPA. It will be up to each company to decide which
option will allow it to manage its risk most efficiently and cost effectively.
Failure to comply with these obligations can lead to criminal prosecution and
the imposition of a fine.
Chapter 19 “ Aspects of environmental risk 503

Future developments: more producer responsibility for waste
The Packaging Waste Regulations (SI 1997 No. 648) (see Chapter 18) were the
first in what is likely to become a series of measures emanating from the EU
based on the principle that those who produce a product should be responsible
for dealing with that product at the end of its life when it becomes waste. This
principle is known as ˜producer responsibility for waste™.
For example, the End of Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive (2000/53/EC),
adopted in September 2000, introduces responsibility for cars and other vehicles.
This directive aims to raise the recycling rate for vehicles from a current rate of
approximately 75% at the start of the Directive to 85% last year (2006) to 95%
by 2015. The principle is that of producer responsibility and there are restric-
tions on the types of materials used in construction and a ban on the use of
hazardous materials to facilitate the ease of recycling.
Waste electrical and electronic equipment Directive 2002/96/EC (WEEE)
and its sister directive ban the use of certain hazardous materials in electrical
equipment (including heavy metals cadmium, lead and mercury, and bromi-
nated flame retardants) from 1 July 2006. These set out the criteria for: the
recovery, treatment and recycling of all forms of electrical equipment. Retailers
must now take back WEEE at no expense and producers have to: cover any
costs of recovery and recycling; ensure products are easier to reuse and recycle;
ensure products are well labelled so as to make it clear that they can be recycled
and are not to be placed with general waste; and provide data of their activities
with these issues with regards to volumes and types and amount recycled. The
Directive (2002/96/EC) on waste electronic equipment (with an amendment
2003/108/EC) is designed to manage the rapidly increasing volume of this type
of waste being sent to landfill and incineration.
Recognising that many hazardous substances are used in electrical and elec-
tronic equipment (e.g. lead, cadmium, mercury, bromine compounds, etc.), both
Directives aim to minimise the impact of electrical and electronic equipment on
the environment during both their working life and when they enter the waste
stream. The WEEE Directive sets collection, treatment, recycling and recovery tar-
gets for a wide variety of waste electrical and electronic equipment. Producers of
the relevant electrical and electronic equipment will become responsible for
financing most of these activities although, in the case of commercial electrical and
electronic equipment, they will be able to pass on these costs to the business user.
Accompanying the WEEE Directive, the Restriction of Hazardous
Substances Directive 2002/95/EC (RoHS Directive) seeks to restrict the use of
various hazardous substances in new electrical and electronic equipment.
From 1 July 2006, the sale of new products in the EU which contain more than
agreed levels of certain prescribed substances have been banned unless their
use falls within one of the small number of exempted processes where the use
of these substances is permitted until alternatives are found.
The UK government transposed both Directives into UK law by 13 August
2004. The DTI have thus far carried out two consultations (which ended
30 May 2003 and 1 March 2004) in respect of the government™s approach to
Part D “ Overview of the Environmental Aspects of Business Risk

implementing both Directives. A third and final consultation ˜took place™ in


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