Monitoring Environmental Performance
Level 5
Appendix 5
Waste Disposal Legislation

Duty Of Care For Packaging Waste Disposal

The duty of care (DC) for waste disposal, which is regulated under Part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, applies to all forms of controlled waste, and this includes packaging waste.

The DC requires that waste be transferred and carried away for disposal only by carriers who are registered by the Environment Agency or SEPA. Also, the waste must be disposed of only in the properly licensed waste disposal facilities.

Separate legislation - the Special Waste Regulations 1996, is in force for the disposal of 'special wastes', which are basically those dangerous to life. These regulations rely upon the Consignment Note system for authorising and recording details of special waste transfers all the way from their points of origin to their final point of disposal (usually an incinerator and some landfills.)

Special wastes do not usually include the common packaging materials. However, a great deal of packaging waste comes under the Special Waste Regulations 1996 because it is contaminated by substances that are listed as thus. Empty oil and chemical drums, paint tins, paper or plastic bags used to wrap chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides, are all considered as special wastes due to the fact that they have become contaminated with the residues of environmentally hazardous substances. Some of the larger containers can sometimes be cleaned well enough for them to be classified as 'general dry waste', although the majority of wrapping papers, plastic films and small containers which have previously been in contact with the special waste substances, will be classed as special waste themselves.

Effective waste management and also because the costs of disposing of special wastes are so high, it is important to implement segregation of waste streams in order to ensure that packaging materials do not become contaminated with special wastes. This can occur through, for example, cross contamination and lack of careful container cleansing where practicable.