Apply Waste Hierarchy to recycle and recover waste

August 11, 2011

Relevant to any business which generates, imports, produces, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of waste; dealers or brokers who have control of waste, and anyone responsible for handling or transferring waste.

Takes effect on 28 September 2011

From 28 September 2011, as a waste producer or dealer in waste, you must follow the waste hierarchy when choosing a waste option, and show you have done so when you transfer your waste to another business.

The waste hierarchy duty applies to both hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

You should consider each of the following five steps in turn so as to choose the least environmentally damaging method of handling waste:

  • prevent – produce less waste in the first place by using less, keeping things longer, reusing products or machinery, or reducing hazardous contents
  • prepare for reuse – check, clean, repair or refurbish whole waste products or parts to reuse in your business or in another organisation
  • recycle – goods and materials that are of no further use to you may have value for others
  • other recovery – energy generating or bio-fuel producing businesses may need the waste you generate
  • dispose – burying waste at landfill sites or burning it without recovering energy is the last resort

The waste hierarchy applies in this order to most types of waste, but for:

  • food waste, anaerobic digestion is environmentally better than composting or other waste option
  • low-grade wood waste, energy recovery is more suitable than recycling

These rules also apply if you operate under a new or revised environmental permit.

You must also declare that you have applied the hierarchy on your waste transfer note or hazardous waste consignment note. If your waste management decisions do not comply with the waste hierarchy because of other factors, you must be able to justify them. It is good practice to keep a record of your decisions.