The Environmental Agency has strict standards on what can be classified as inert waste. Clearly anything contaminated with hydrocarbons and carcinogenic material (oil, petrol, chemicals etc), heavy metals (usually from batteries) or gypsum (plasterboard) will not qualify.
Probably less understood by our customers is that soil that has been refined/recycled that has a loss on ignition (LOl) test that exceeds 10% will also not meet the standard to be inert. The usual culprits here are paper, plastics and wood which have become commingled in the waste during the disposal process.
We are seeing an increase in scrutiny on soil/inert inspection by the agency. Indeed, recent testing by the agency has shown significant failure of compliance on all fronts, with over 60% of samples of refined material failing the LOl test.
With this failure of the recycling/disposal industry to effectively self-regulate, we expect the agency to step up its compliance regime. A stricter enforcement of regulations will have significant impacts on both the skip operators and our customers.
Over 50% of the material we receive is soil and aggregate. Traditionally, this material has been recovered and sent to landfill as inert waste where it is often used in site reclamation.
Inert waste attracts landfill tax at the low rate of £3 per tonne rather than the £94.15 per tonne for normal waste.
Becomes mixed waste
When dealing with soil disposal, most of our clients just put soil and aggregates into the same skip as other general or building waste. Unfortunately, that simple act transforms what is mostly inert material into normal waste, which if sent to landfill in its raw form attracts the higher rate of tax.
We then spend a lot of time and energy separating the mixed waste back into its components so that each piece of the mix can be sent to its best and most viable end use.
Like most operators, we will not accept gypsum, batteries or contaminated soils in a mixed skip. The onus is on the person disposing of this material to segregate it and pay the price appropriate for its end disposal.
However, skips continue to arrive at our sites with mixed general or building waste that we then separate. This is labour and capital intensive work and we fully expect that both the capital and operational cost to meet disposal standards will continue to rise.
Ultimately, unless skip operators invest in better recycling plants, then more mixed soil will go to landfill as general waste and attract a substantially higher tax rate.
Either way, this cost will be reflected in higher skip prices to you ,the customer, as the cost of meeting the rules will be passed back to the waste disposers.
It is time for commercial and trade customers to think differently about their disposal habits. The old ways will fall away with a stricter enforcement of the regulations as this increases the cost of disposal. The obvious answer is to change disposal behaviour to segregate waste streams at source.
We believe that adopting a new approach today may help you reduce costs in the short term. In all cases, we are certain that it will ensure you control your costs effectively in the medium term as the costs of compliance with the regulations is more rigorously enforced.
At SunSkips, we are here to offer innovative solutions to help our customers meet and exceed their waste disposal responsibilities. Work with us and we will help you to refine your approach to waste disposal, to improve your environmental footprint and to manage the increasing costs of being compliant.