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Scotland's Zero Waste Plan: Consultation

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Annex - F - Better waste regulation to support Zero waste

Introduction

1. As outlined in section 1.12 of the draft Plan, the main focus of waste regulation is and must remain the protection of the environment and human health. However, Scottish Government and Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA) also want to ensure that waste regulation helps to deliver effective infrastructure and processes to assist Scotland move towards Zero Waste.

General principles of waste regulation

2. In terms of general principle, regulation should be transparent, accountable, consistent, proportionate and targeted. The ideal waste regulatory regime would:

  • provide a high degree of protection for human health and the environment;
  • be simply, thoroughly and consistently enforced;
  • be as little burdensome as possible to responsible operators; and
  • be sufficiently flexible and responsive as to encourage innovation.

3. All developers proposing infrastructure to treat and handle waste should contact their local SEPA office at an early stage to obtain advice and information on waste regulation.

4. A waste regulatory regime designed around better regulatory principles should:

  • eliminate outdated or unnecessary provisions in legislation;
  • consolidate, streamline or merge regulatory regimes where possible;
  • base regulatory permitting, inspection and enforcement on sound risk principles;
  • ensure where companies break the law that enforcement is swift and effective;
  • minimise the administrative burdens on companies and regulators wherever possible;
  • empower regulators to enforce regulations in a fair, consistent and proportionate manner;
  • promote best practice and advice to regulated companies wherever possible.

EU requirements

5. In practice, waste is undeniably subject to a complex web of regulation. This is unavoidable: the framework for the law on waste throughout the European Union is established by a range of Community legislation in a large number of instruments, all of which must be transposed by the Member States.

6. When considering better regulation, the Scottish Government and SEPA need to comply with EU requirements. Government and SEPA also need to ensure proposals do not inadvertently lead to increased burdens on business.

7. For example, having a single permitting regime for those activities to which the Integrated Pollution Prevention & Control ( IPPC) Directive 1 applies and for waste management activities not covered by IPPC and regulated under the provisions of the Waste Framework Directive 2 would lead to increased burdens on business. This is because the only way of making certain that a single permit could cover the range of activities dealt with by both Directives would be to ensure that the permit covered the whole range of requirements of both. This would be unnecessarily complex (and therefore expensive) for operators dealing with relatively straightforward activities.

8. However, this particular example will not stop the Government and SEPA from considering ways of improving and integrating licensing and permitting which would reduce burdens on business while still protecting human health and the environment and complying with EU obligations.

9. Overall, however, the approach being taken by the Scottish Government and SEPA to better regulation is to maintain the basic regulatory framework, with which operators are familiar, but to take opportunities to make incremental improvements. This approach has been supported by interested parties.

10. The Scottish Government and SEPA have set out the kind of activities they propose to undertake in the Better Waste Regulation Action Programme3. This outlines action in the following areas:-

  • Consolidation of the Waste Management Regulations 1994;
  • Review of exemptions and mobile plant licensing;
  • Simplifying elements of waste management licences;
  • Improving guidance on whether materials are waste;
  • Improving forms, licensing, inspection and enforcement;
  • Review of charging schemes; and
  • Review of special waste and duty of care regimes.

11. For some of this legislative change is necessary. As outlined in section 1.14 of the draft Plan, the Scottish Government intends to consult later this year on a number of legislative proposals to implement the revised Waste Framework Directive. This will provide an opportunity to make progress on items in the Better Waste Regulation Action Programme where legislative change is required.

12. The Scottish Government and SEPA are already taking action to improve waste regulation and help deliver zero waste. Two examples are given below:

Example A. SEPA taking a regulatory position.

SEPA may take interim regulatory positions based on an understanding of possible future legislative change. An example is the position SEPA has developed on the re-use of waste paint. Storage and beneficial use of non-hazardous waste paint is normally an exempt activity under the Waste Management Licensing Regulations. Community groups who store waste paint for re-use are required to register their exemption with SEPA in a simple, one-off registration which can be done online and free of charge. The mixing of waste paints for re-use is not currently exempt from waste management licence requirements. However SEPA supports the re-use and wider benefits provided by these community activities and will not require not-for-profit organisations to hold a waste management licence for the mixing of non-hazardous waste paint (although the storage and mixing of waste paint that is labelled as hazardous, and therefore special waste, is still a licensable activity.) 4

Example B. Supporting the re-use of waste through the clarification of case law.

SEPA and the Scottish Government wish to simplify the way forward on end of waste wherever reasonable and possible to do so in order to encourage the sustainable re-use of recovered materials in Scotland whilst minimising bureaucracy and maintaining a high level of protection for the environment and human health. SEPA are following the work being done at EU level on end of waste criteria, as outlined in Article 6 of the revised Waste Framework Directive, as well as developing national guidance in relation to specific waste streams such as road planings and greenfield soils. The aim of these projects is to demonstrate when recovery is complete and the materials can be used without requiring waste regulatory controls.

Scottish Government
August 2009