The Environment Agency (EA) has said waste businesses that received the lowest ratings for compliance are “damaging the reputation” of their business and sectors in a new report published yesterday (12 Nov).
The EA’s Sustainable Business Report 2012 shows that the vast majority of regulated businesses have a good and improving record on environmental performance, and take their environmental responsibilities seriously.
It also shows, however, that 79 sites, mostly in the waste management industry, had the lowest ratings for three successive years (2010, 2011 and 2012). The EA said that these businesses are “damaging the reputation of their business and of their sectors.”
The report builds upon the Agency’s Sustainable Business Report for 2011 and looks at the performance ratings of businesses that require environmental permits – “A” being good, through to “F” being poor.
Environment Agency – “We are working closely with the waste industry and trade associations to understand the root cause of persistent poor performance. This will help us apply proportionate advice and guidance or enforcement activity to bring operators back into compliance”
“We carry out compliance checks on the basis of risk,” the EA said. “Sites in band A that demonstrate good compliance will have fewer checks as they are assessed as lower risk.”
The report shows that the number of permits has increased by five percent since 2011, from 12,975 to 13,677. There has been a 16 percent increase since 2006 (11,835).
78 percent (10,612) of the sites permitted in 2012 were rated A, compared to 76 percent (9,859) in 2011 and 70 percent (8,233) in 2006 (the first year of data collection).
Three percent (401) of permits were rated D, E or F, compared with 400 in 2011, but down from 634 in 2006.
The biowaste sector had the highest proportion of band D, E and F sites in 2012 at five percent (42 of 888 permits), followed by the metals sector at four percent (8 of 185 permits).
Waste storage, treatment, transfer and use, and the landfill sectors each had three percent.
Businesses involved in waste storage, treatment, transfer and use, landfill, biowaste and energy from waste activities accounted for 92 percent of the band D, E or F sites in 2012 (363 of 396). However, waste activities account for 80 percent of all environmental permits.
79 sites have been in bands D, E or F for three years; 75 of these were waste activities.
“We are working closely with the waste industry and trade associations to understand the root cause of persistent poor performance. This will help us apply proportionate advice and guidance or enforcement activity to bring operators back into compliance,” the EA said.
CIWM has welcomed the report buy says there are still a number of areas of concern.
“The overall picture is good, but the news is less positive for our industry,” says CIWM chief executive Steve Lee. “Serious incidents in the waste industry have increased, and biowaste treatment is one of the main culprits. The number of regulated biowaste sites almost doubled between 2010 and 2012 – which clearly impacts on the figures.
Steve Lee, CIWM – “It is also worrying to see both a significant number of persistent poor performers in the waste industry, and the scale of criminal waste activities that the Environment Agency now has to deal with”
“However, there is clearly more work to be done to improve environmental performance in this ’emerging’ sector. With the likelihood of a stronger focus on the diversion of biowaste from landfill at both an EU and national level in the future, further action is need to ensure that this type of treatment infrastructure meets its compliance obligations.
“It is also worrying to see both a significant number of persistent poor performers in the waste industry, and the scale of criminal waste activities that the Environment Agency now has to deal with. While the Agency’s strong response through the illegal wastes sites task force has been both welcome and extremely effective, this is a growing problem and CIWM has called for the resources dedicated to fighting waste crime to be protected in this time of cut backs.”
For the CIWM press release CLICK HERE