§ The Minister for the Environment (Mr. Elliot Morley)
The landfill directive represents an important step change in the way we dispose of waste. It will encourage waste minimisation and increased levels of recycling and recovery.
The council decision on waste acceptance criteria (WAC), agreed in Council in December 2002, sets out the standards that waste must meet to be accepted at one of the three classes of landfill—hazardous, non-hazardous or inert—prescribed by the landfill directive. It introduces criteria and sets limit values for a number of contaminants, so harmonising another aspect of landfill regulation across Europe. A consultation on how the WAC was to be implemented began on 24 September and closed on 17 December.
Following consultation we have decided that the implementation date for the WAC will be 16 July 2005 with the "interim year" between July 2004–July 2005 being managed using a site specific approach based on loading rates of new wastes, the types of new waste and the types of waste already in the landfill. This site-specific approach will continue post-2005. The option of 57WS opening separate cells in hazardous sites for waste deposited after July 2005, which has been subject to the full WAC, will not be pursued.
The limit values for cadmium and mercury will remain those contained in the Council decision. However, this position will be reviewed two years after implementation following discussions between DEFRA and the Environment Agency to determine whether compliance with the groundwater directive requires adoption of limit values lower than those required by the landfill directive. Furthermore, the Government have decided to extend the ban on disposing gypsum-based wastes with biodegradable wastes to include any high sulphate wastes.
The risk assessment option will be adopted but given the difficulties for the agency in its regulation, the potential for greater environmental risk and the resultant risk of having to store hazardous waste pending agency checks, Government will restrict the option to only individual waste streams destined for specific mono-fill sites. While there will be no initial time limit to this approach, Government reserve the right to re-visit the issue within two years of implementation.
The consultation outcome is available in full on http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/landfill-regs/index.htm
The Landfill (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations to implement these decisions will be laid before Parliament in April. In addition, we expect the landfill directive interpretive guidance to be available to operators also in April.
The Government recognise that implementation of the landfill directive will have a significant impact on the disposal of hazardous waste. They continue to work with the Environment Agency, waste producers and waste managers to ensure that the transition period is as smooth as possible and that the environment and human health are fully protected.