On May 1st 1994 a new waste management licensing act became law which required any operator who deposited, recovered or disposed of waste required a waste management licence (WML) or exemption. If you operated without either of these then you could be fined and sent to prison. A WML can be applied for and issued by the relevant regulatory authority usually SEPA or the EA.
Getting A Licence
When obtaining a licence, you are required to be a ‘fit and proper person’ as well as being technically competent to do the job. A ‘fit and proper person’ is someone without any environmental convictions, are technically competent and have taken all reasonable precautions to meet their licence requirements. A certificate of technical competence (COTC) is issued by the Waste Management Industry Training and Advisory Board (WAMITAB).
Metal recyclers do not face the full burden of waste legislation following heavy lobbying of government over the past 10 years. But they still face strict licensing controls and a less strict Duty of Care regime.
Metals recyclers in the UK either to have a licence to carry out their work or alternatively have to register for an exemption on grounds of size of business.
Over the past two years, and with the support of the metal recycling trade associations, the Environment Agency has been clamping down on unlicensed and non-exempt sites.
Licences issued under the Act are known as “Metal Recycling Site Licences”. Licence conditions include security fencing, covered storage requirements, road and storage surfacing and drainage, sign and notice boards and other conditions.
A key element of the licensing and control system is Duty of Care. As a business, you have a duty to ensure that any waste you produce is handled safely and in accordance with the law. This is the ‘Duty of Care’ and it applies to anyone who produces, imports, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of controlled waste from business or industry or acts as a waste broker in this respect. This involves the waste producer transferring a document to the waste disposer containing all relevant details about the waste.
But the practicalities of always obtaining this document and the fact that some suppliers might choose to go to merchants who did not enforce the rules rigorously prompted a change of heart on the part of the government in agreement with the Environment Agency which enforces the rules.
A concession was struck that the Environment Agency would not fully enforce the Duty of Care as far as the non-ferrous metal recycling industry in particular is concerned.
This concession was welcomed by the British Secondary Metals Association.
Duty Of Care
The Duty of Care rules apply to materials whether they are destined for recycling or disposal and the Environment Agency has said that the duty of care is the piece of legislation that links waste controls together linking waste with carriers.
There is now flexibility in the way the regulations are implemented for generally small loads of material. The Agency has given guidance saying that duty of care must be understood as a concept that requires all reasonable precautions to be taken so that waste, including metals, in the care of a business or carrier doesn’t escape and is carried in a secure container.
When it is transferred to a registered broker, carrier, a business registered exempt and others there must be a description of that waste.
The agency accepts that it is clearly impractical to have a transfer note for every container of non-ferrous material, and if the way the notes are used allows the next person in the chain to be able to know what it is and handle it properly then the aim of the duty of care is in a large part being achieved.
Following the agreement with the British Secondary Metals Association earlier this year, the Agency will not generally take action especially as its resources have been focused on getting unlicensed or unregistered metal recycling sites into the licensing and exemption system.
The concessions on the duty of care apply to transactions where the total quantity of scrap metal being transferred does not exceed 1,500 kilogrammes. The transaction may cover a number of different metals but the total weight of the transfer must not be greater than 1,500 kg. This means that if the transfer weight of metals that are waste exceeds the 1,500 kg limit, then the waste transfer note must contain all the details as in the regulations.
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