At the time of writing, the long-awaited decision by Defra Ministers on the future of the derogation from the waste acceptance criteria for hazardous waste landfill of air pollution control residues (known as the “3xWAC derogation) was still pending.

Defra has been carrying out additional work as a basis for a ministerial decision on the future of the WAC derogation, following a consultation by the Environment Agency in 2014 on proposed plans to remove it from permits for landfill sites for hazardous waste.

ESA members in the hazardous waste and energy from the waste sectors have been expecting a decision on the future of the derogation for some time. In May, Defra reported that progress had been made in developing the necessary evidence and assessments to reach a decision, but that an announcement was not expected before July 2016.

When ESA contacted Defra officials in early June to confirm the timing for the ministerial announcement on 3xWAC – and a connected announcement of the outcome of Defra’s review of its 2010 Hazardous Waste Strategy – it was told that Defra were not in a position to provide this.

The hiatus is likely to result from the EU referendum result and the subsequent ministerial reshuffle, in which both Lis Truss and Rory Stewart left Defra for posts in other government departments, to be replaced by Andrea Leadsom and Therese Coffey who will need time to become familiar with their new portfolios.

At this stage there is no indication of what the decision on the future of the WAC derogation is likely to be. ESA has consistently called for Ministers to set an end-date by which it would be phased out, so that there is clarity for companies planning future investment in treatment of air pollution control residues, and new facilities can come on stream to handle the expected increase in arisings of this waste.

On the Strategy review, ESA understands that Defra is minded to keep the 2010 Strategy in place rather than re-write it, but to focus on implementing a small number of its key provisions. ESA’s Hazardous Waste Strategy Group has suggested the following priorities for implementation;

  • Place more emphasis on the responsibilities of hazardous waste producers under the Duty of Care so that the producers are encouraged to do the right thing.
  • Introduce the electronic “HazDoc” to replace hazardous waste consignment notes to improve the traceability of hazardous waste.
  • Defra should review and update its “Facilities need for hazardous waste management in England” which was annexed to the 2010 Defra strategy, in order to help facilitate future planning applications for infrastructure to treat hazardous waste.

Taken from CIWM Journal August 2016 – The Journal for Waste & Resource Management professionals.