Memorandum submitted by the Chemical Industries
1. The Chemical Industries Association welcomes
the chance to comment on this important issue. Our general "credentials"
are set out as footnotes at the conclusion of this submission.
2. We accept that waste disposal is at the
bottom of the waste hierarchy and avoidance, reuse and recycling
are preferable to disposal. It does not follow that disposal is
always intrinsically bad or that the production of hazardous waste
is something to be avoided at all costs. For many materials a
landfill, or incinerator which is well designed and operated,
will continue to be the best practicable environmental option
(BPEO) and in many cases will contribute a positive benefit by
helping to reinstate land that has been used for mineral extraction
or fuel other processes. A number of essential chemical processes
will inevitably produce hazardous wastepharmaceutical production,
for instance, and we must accept that the by-products of a modern
society may inevitably include some difficult to handle wastes
that are not straightforward to recycle or dispose of.
3. The chemical industry has already made
large reductions in the amounts of waste sent for landfill for
a number of reasons, including the improvement of overall performance
under the industry's Responsible Care Programme and IP(P)C controls.
It is common good practice in the industry to have waste management
strategies. As a trade association, CIA has provided extensive
briefing to our members on the implications of the Landfill Directive.
To demonstrate our belief that a partnership approach is the preferred
method of developing sensible solutions to the challenges ahead
for waste management, we are shortly to hold a joint seminar with
colleagues from the waste management sector and speakers from
Government and the Environment Agency.
4. CIA has concerns regarding the management
of all industrial waste, not just Hazardous Waste. We agree with
the Committee that recent debate in this area has focused on municipal
waste streams. More attention needs to be paid to the whole area
of industrial waste management. The UK chemical industry produces
around 2.1 million tonnes of waste per year, only 33 per cent
of which is hazardous. 77 per cent of our waste is neither municipal,
nor hazardous. We need industrial waste to be looked at as a whole
so the non-hazardous fractionthe significant portiondoes
not get overlooked in any review of strategy.
5. In truth, our sector has more questions
than answers with regard to the shape of industrial waste management
in the short to medium-term as there are so many uncertainties
in this policy area and many strands of waste policy are developing
separately. As only one of many sectors producing industrial wastehazardous
and non-hazardous, we only have part of the picture. All waste
producers are subject to the same regulatory uncertainties, particularly
with regards to issues arising from implementation of the Landfill
Directive. The waste management industry (landfill operators and
recyclers etc) possess the most up to date information on landfill,
testing and treatment availability and the Environment Agency
has the most reliable data on waste arisings.
6. We recognise that UK waste producers
have enjoyed the lowest gate charge for waste to landfill in Europe.
There is one certainty for the near futurelandfill costs
will go up considerably for all waste streams. Our concerns over
the implementation of the Landfill Directive revolve primarily
around the lack of certainty, not the level of costcertainty
around available capacities for testing of waste, treatment and
of final disposal outlets as well as certainty around future waste
costs in order to make financial provision for waste management.
7. Our underlying message is that uncertainties
in the area of waste policy make it difficult for waste producers
to develop coherent medium to long-term strategies. Whilst this
situation persists, it is difficult to envisage that, in the short-term
at least, waste producers will truly be able to take responsibility
for planning the final destination of their waste. In the meantime,
our members' level of concern is increasing as deadlines approach.
8. There are a large number of European
directives and regulations on waste that create a comprehensive
legal framework for the management and disposal of waste. The
debate seeking a clear definition of the terms "waste"
and "product", however has been going on for years in
Europe, including the UK. Yet there is still no satisfactory definition
of the point at which recovered waste once more becomes a product.
We also lack clear criteria to distinguish between activities
carried out to recover waste and activities carried out to dispose
of waste. This creates enormous barriers to waste producers wishing
to recover, reuse or recycle waste or even operators merely wishing
to manage their waste in the most sustainable way as often operators
become caught by expensive and burdensome waste regulation that
would not apply to similar substances defined as "product"putting
UK business at a competitive disadvantage and possibly making
less environmentally sustainable disposal routes more attractive.
9. With regards to landfilling of waste,
the Chemical Industry, and other waste producers, has been operating
in a period of uncertainty with regard to waste management since
the Landfill Directive was adopted in 1999. Regulations for England
and Wales were laid down in both Houses for affirmative resolution
on 2 April this year. There are presently no regulations for Scotland
or Northern Ireland. Our comments on "the Regulations"
that follow, therefore, refer to the legislation applicable to
England and Wales only.
10. The first critical date in the Landfill
Regulations is July this year when landfill operators must decide
how to classify their siteshazardous, non hazardous or
inert. The next critical date is July 2004 when co-disposal (the
disposal of hazardous and non hazardous waste in the same site)
must cease. Landfill operators are, on the whole, undecided about
how to classify their sites, or at least are not going public
on their decisions. Until this classification becomes clear, it
is impossible for anyone outside the waste management industry
to know how much landfill capacity for each type of waste there
11. Waste Acceptance Criteria for the various
classes of landfill are being prepared in the Commission. This
is very overdue. The UK regulations contain interim acceptance
criteria but these lack the detail required by landfill operators
on which to make investment decisions and decisions on site classification
as these criteria drive landfill specification.
12. The Environment Agency has indicated
that the number of hazardous waste landfills will be considerably
less than at present after July 2002with perhaps less than
one tenth of the previous numbers of sites. There are currently
about 300-350 hazardous waste landfill sites in the UK. It is
unknown exactly how many sites will wish to take on the engineering
requirements and liabilities for managing hazardous waste sites
under the new regimethis information will begin to emerge
after July this year though estimates range from less than 20
to as many as 300. The Agency believes that many existing sites
will wish to close rather than take on the demands of the Landfill
Directive. There is likely to be no hazardous waste landfill in
Scotland at all.
13. These uncertainties may lead to considerable
practical difficulties in liquid hazardous waste disposal from
July this year and the ceasing the disposal of hazardous wastes
to landfill from 2004. Pressures on landfill capacity and additional
waste treatment requirements are likely to lead to a rapid escalation
of disposal costs for waste producers, over a timeframe in which
it would not be possible to develop innovative alternatives. Unscrupulous
waste producers may be tempted to opt for illegal waste disposal
options and law-abiding producers may be forced to store hazardous
waste on site. In the worst case, the UK could have another "fridges
scenario" whereby there is simply insufficient capacity for
hazardous waste testing, treatment and disposal, because waste
managers have not had the necessary framework within which to
make the required investment to meet the challenges posed by the
14. There remains some uncertainty over
the definition of "treatment" which in turn makes investment
decisions for landfill operators difficult. Do they invest in
new treatment facilities for liquid hazardous waste or will there
be sufficient capacity for industrial waste if enough sites decide
to go non-hazardous in July? We are advised by the Environment
Agency that now the Landfill Regulations are laid, they will begin
to publish technical guidance on such issues but with the requirement
for treatment of 2004, this leaves very little time for investment
in new facilities.
15. The present planning regime will be
unable to deliver any new waste management infrastructure by 2004.
Even if facilities were to be commissioned, the process from design
to operation may take years if planning considerations are protracted.
Applications for new waste facilities are generally contentious,
particularly for hazardous waste facilities, adding a further
opportunity for time delay in their provision.
16. More positively, we are pleased that
the Government is reviewing the Special Waste Regulations as we
agree that there is a need to harmonise definitions of waste with
those presently used in Europe. The present distinction between
"Special" and "Hazardous" waste is confusing,
particularly for companies operating across Europe. This change
will inevitably mean that some waste currently defined as "non-hazardous"
may become "hazardous" under the new definition. This
will add around 600,000 tonnes of waste to the "hazardous"
category, according to a report carried out for the DETR by Babtie
Consultants in July 2000.
This, again, points to the pressing need for the makes the provision
of adequate hazardous landfill.
17. The most recent public consultation
paper from the Government
outlines a number of options for charging for waste management
regulation including charging on the basis of hazard of the waste.
CIA is totally opposed to this, as we believe that charges for
regulation should be proportional to the effort put in by the
regulatory authority. Relating charges to environmental burden
effectively transforms charging into an environmental tax. We
would not support environmental taxes in the area of hazardous
waste management, as they would achieve nothing that could not
be achieved by effective regulation. Charging for waste management
on the basis of hazard is unlikely to change production patterns
of many hazardous waste streams as many such streams result from
the production of essential commodities such as pharmaceuticals.
CIA PROPOSAL FOR
18. In order to ensure appropriate dialogue
takes place between all stakeholders in the industrial waste management
debate and solutions to the potential challenges ahead are explored,
we propose that a Government-led Industrial Waste Forum be established.
This initiative would be aimed at achieving a co-ordinated strategic
approach to the full range of emerging policies and initiatives
that will affect those with an interest in industrial waste management.
19. The proposed Forum could consider, amongst
other issues, the challenges that lie ahead in matching industrial
waste production with disposal capability; the need for waste
treatment and disposal options, including incineration, to replace
landfill and resolve some of the definitional problems affecting
this policy field. Its output might be an Industrial Waste Strategy.
20. Such a forum would, in our view, require
input from industrial waste producers in various sectors, waste
management companies, the Environment Agency, relevant Government
departments responsible for the UK Waste Strategy and the planning
regime and other interested stakeholders. We know from informal
discussions with a number of these stakeholders that they too
would be supportive of our proposal.
THE UK CHEMICAL
21. Waste Production in the Chemical Industry:
The Chemical Industry produces 2.1 million tonnes of waste per
year, 33 per cent or 700,000 tonnes of which is Hazardous. The
Environment Agency estimates that the chemical industry produces
around 6 per cent of the UK's total waste arisings and around
12 per cent of the UK's Hazardous Waste Arisings.
22. Chemicals' Contribution to Society:
Products of the chemical industry form the basis for every manufacturing
activity. They are vital to transport, healthcare, food and drink,
construction, textiles, ITand indeed to all other sectors
of the economy. It is impossible to divorce a successful and responsible
chemical industry from the colourful, diverse, clean and safe
environment and high standard of living that we have come to take
for granted. In particular, the industry can proudly claim a major
role in increasing human longevity and quality of life. Life expectancy
at birth doubled in the 20th century. Not only can this be attributed
to such recognisably chemically derived products as drugs and
antibiotics, but improved water treatment, detergents and pesticides
have all played their part.
23. Contribution to the British Economy:
The chemical industry in the UK employs 239,000 highly skilled
people nationwide, and accounts for 2 per cent of Gross Domestic
Product and 11 per cent of manufacturing industry's gross value
added. It invests £3 billion annually (plus £3.2 billion
on Research and Development) and is our top manufacturing export
earner, with an annual trade surplus of over £4 billion on
a gross output of £48 billion. It also provides a tax and
national insurance contribution of nearly £5 billion a year
to the UK national government and local authorities.
24. The Chemical Industries Association:
the CIA comprises 190 operating companies, based at over 300 manufacturing
sites nationwide. It is the predominant trade association and
employers' federation for the industry, and embraces all trade
sectors, product types and business activities. Based in Westminster,
the Association employs 67 staff headed by the Director General.
The CIA's mission statement is:
"To help members secure sustainable profitability
and improve recognition of their contribution to society, by working
with them to influence relevant people and policies and by stimulating
and helping them towards appropriate internal action, singly or
Chemical Industries Association
1 Babtie Group for the Department of the Environment,
Transport and the Regions (2000) Implications of the Landfill
Directive in the Disposal of Hazardous and Liquid Waste in the
UK. Report Reference BPF 013874. Back
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions "The
Implementation of Council Directive 1999/31/EC on the Landfill
of Waste"-Consultation Paper 19 October 2000. Back