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Responsibility for environmental irresponsibility

For many industries, organisations and businesses, waste and environmental impact is a necessary by-product of the various activities undertaken. Under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act it is a business’s own responsibility to ensure the proper disposal of any waste produced. This is referred to as the Duty of Care. However, how to manage disposal (and reduction) of this waste and minimise negative environmental effects is undertaken in a range of ways.

Key to proper waste disposal is management. Key to management is data.

Data enables verification and proof of duty of care. In particular, data enables you to show what type of waste has been produced, where it has gone and how it is treated or disposed of. Legal responsibility requires businesses to hold information on every single waste transfer for 2 years; any breach in any one of these transfers can result in a fine. This includes breaches made by waste contractors.

Waste fines can be crippling. In 2014 a demolition company was fined £16,000 for failing to ensure the proper disposal of their waste. Similarly a Birmingham based waste company breached their environmental permit and failed to comply with enforcement, resulting in a >£45,000 fine. With environmental management becoming increasingly significant legal action against offenders is on the rise; between 2014 and 2015 waste offences were seen to increase by 24%.

Alongside the increasing governmental and legal incentives to properly manage waste data the EU Waste framework Directive 2008/98/EC set out an aim to increase construction industry waste recycling such that by 2020 70% of waste is recycled.

With so many legal and governmental stressors emphasising the importance of managing waste you would assume most organisations would be implementing methods to comply. In reality only 56% of businesses fully comply with their duty of care with this figure increasing for SMEs.

Compliance with waste management outlines not only ensures you fulfil your duty of care (and avoid considerable fines!) but also often provides a wide range of additional benefits to an organisation. Waste data management enables a full overview of an organisation’s operations and supply chain waste creation allowing for methods of waste minimisation or better waste disposal to be employed, saving both costs and material.

Better material management can recoup large amounts of the costs associated with waste disposal. A recent WRAP report estimated that one skip filled with mixed construction waste cost £1343 of which >£1000 came from the cost of unused material – that’s 81% of the cost. Through better data collection, management of waste can be improved, resulting in increased recuperated costs and thorough compliance with legal waste management laws.

SmartWaste, an environmental monitoring and reporting tool, has managed to save users over £23million and diverted >9million tonnes of waste from landfill (As of February 2017). Not only does a tool such as SmartWaste help ensure compliance but it also allows the visualisation of waste management allowing for effective strategies on waste minimisation to be implemented.

Why no find out more about SmartWaste here.