Incineration deadline looms for UK industry
who want to continue to burn waste after the end of this month that
they must apply for a new permit before 31 March.
The change in the law comes at a time when incineration is increasing in importance by the UK pharmaceuticals and chemicals industries, which are said to be facing a shortage of landfill sites for hazardous materials as the number of facilities handling this type of waste have been dramtically cut.The Waste Incineration Directive (WID) will take effect from the 27 December. If an operator wishes to burn waste up to and after that date it must demonstrate that its plant will, from 28 December, meet all the requirements of the tough new regulations.
These include tighter limits on the level of emissions, including substantial reductions in the level of sulphur dioxide, dust emissions and a 10-fold reduction in the emission limit for dioxins. There are also new requirements to monitor for additional pollutants, and measures that for the first time require a plant to stop burning waste if emission levels rise above the required level.
"It is very important that operators get their applications in as soon as possible, so that we can make sure that, as long as they meet the new standards, they can continue to operate from 28 December. Operators that fail to apply by the end of March 2005 will be considered to be operating illegally and therefore could be prosecuted or shut down," said Dr Martin Bigg, head of industry regulation at the Environment Agency.
Operators can seek guidance on whether to Directive applies to them or not from the Defra and the Environment Agency websites.
Additionally, there is an application form on the Environment Agency website that guides applicants through the information they are required to submit for the permitting process.
Handling waste safely is a key issue for the pharmaceutical industry, not least because the sector is highly regulated and so there is a barrier to changes to production processes that could improve efficiencies and cut waste. Regulations also create impediments to re-use of waste as raw materials in other processes because of concerns about quality.
Meanwhile, incineration is recommended as a means of disposal of a number of pharmaceutical materials, including powders and liquids, and specifically cancer treatments, anti-infectives and controlled drugs.