Low risk waste regulation
We recognise that waste industry regulation should be proportionate to risk. We have therefore been working to target activities that have a greater potential for harming the environment or human health.
The low risk initiative is part of this overall aim and has been set up to identify low risk waste operations that are not exempt from environmental permitting but which do not justify enforcement. Examples of such operations include simple shoe banks or printer ink recycling.
We take this approach nationally, which enables us to have a clear and consistent view of low risk waste activities. This work is now carried out as part of the work of the:
Revised waste exemptions affects current low risk waste positions
New waste exemptions were introduced on 6 April 2010. These affect low risk waste positions.
Those who currently benefit from a low risk position will need to check if a new exemption for this activity has been provided.
Reason for the low risk initiative
A growing number of materials are subject to permitting, which in some cases can be potentially disproportionate to the risk posed. Putting permitting and compliance effort into low-risk non-exempt waste operations is incompatible with modern regulation. Our resources are limited and must be prioritised to operations that pose the greatest threat to the environment and human health.
Identifiying low risk waste operations
Our field staff will identify potential low risk waste operations. They will decide whether the operation should be dealt with under our low risk approach. We will issue national guidance to our staff, listing those operations which have been accepted as being low risk.
If an operation appears on the list, this means we take the view that it would not be in the public interest to require an environmental permit for the activity. It should be noted however, that if any operation is carried out in a way likely to pollute the environment or harm human health we would consider enforcement action.
Changes to low risk waste activites guidance
The guidance to our staff will be kept under review and may change, or be revoked in full or in part, at any time. Reference should always be made to the most up to date version:
My organisation believes we have a low risk activity. How do we get a decision?
For site specific issues we ask that you approach our local offices for further advice. National organisations with generic proposals should raise them through their national Environment Agency contact.