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Legislation: what you need to know to get your business green

02 October 2007
Legislation: what you need to know to get your business green

Going green may be high on the agenda these days, but it comes with a host of rules and regulations that have to be observed. Here's a summary to help you get clued-up

Tackling climate change and promoting sustainability is high on the agenda of EU policy makers and the Government, both of which have been introducing new regulations and tightening up others. Most agree that more stringent legislation is on the cards, making it ever more pressing to start getting your business in order.

For more detailed information, check out the websites of Defra, the Environment Agency and its Netregs resource.

The Animal By-Products Regulations (ABPR)

Controls the use, treatment, handling and disposal of food waste, notably that catering waste that includes used cooking oil cannot be fed to animals can go for composting or biogas only in an ABPR-licensed facility and can go to landfill or incineration only if it cannot be accessed by livestock.

The Climate Change Levy (CCL)

Essentially an "energy tax", the CCL is designed to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Starting from April 2007 the CCL, which applies to the use of common types of energy like gas and electricity by UK businesses, will increase each year in line with inflation.

Duty of Care regulations for waste

These regulations require that waste, including that sent for recycling, is stored and disposed of responsibly by an authorised body. Details must be recorded on Waste Transfer Notes, to be kept for two years.

Hazardous Waste Regulations (HWR)

These require that "hazardous" waste items such as fluorescent tubes, TVs and pesticides are stored separately and disposed of by a specialist contractor. Businesses producing such waste should register with the Environment Agency (EA). Businesses in Scotland and Northern Ireland need not register but must notify the EA in advance of any hazardous waste movements (see www.environment-agency.gov.uk/subjects/waste).

The Landfill Directive (England and Wales) 2002, and October 2007 amendments

This limits the amount and range of products that can go to landfill. From 30 October 2007 non-hazardous waste liquids will be banned from landfill and non-hazardous solid waste must be treated before going to landfill (see www.environment-agency.gov.uk/subjects/waste).

Trade effluent and discharge consents

These consents cover any liquid waste discharged to a sewer by a business other than sewage and uncontaminated rain water. For any other forms of liquid waste you need to sign a trade effluent agreement, or a discharge consent if the discharge is going to controlled waters such as a ditch, stream or rivers, or a drain connecting to such.

The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) Regulations (Scotland) 2005

More commonly referred to as the CAR, these regulations cover disposals, discharges and pollution issues in Scotland (see www.sepa.org.uk/pdf/wfd/regimes/car_practical_guide.pdf).

Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and the Water Fittings Regulations 2000 (Scotland)

Designed to prevent the waste, misuse, contamination and inaccurate measuring of water. The regulations set requirements for the design, installation and maintenance of plumbing systems and water fittings. For example, it states that urinals must be fitted with devices to prevent them from flushing when the building is unoccupied (see www.defra.gov.uk/environment/water/industry/wsregs99/index.htm or www.wras.co.uk).

WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Regulations

The WEEE regulations, designed to reduce landfill, came into force on 2 January 2007 and place the onus for the responsible disposal of electronic or electrical items on either the owner or the producer. Businesses can get WEEE collected free if it was bought after 15 August 2005, or if you are replacing it with equivalent equipment. Otherwise they must store, collect, treat, recycle and dispose of WEEE separately from other waste and keep records to show it was responsibly disposed of using a suitable contractor.

The Companies Act (2006), changes in October 2007

Later in the year the Companies Act will be amended, requiring all listed companies with 1,000 or more employees to provide a corporate social responsibility (CSR) statement in their annual directors' report.

Waste management licensing

Hospitality businesses won't normally require a waste management licence to store their own waste but you may need to get one, or at least register for an exemption with the Environment Agency, if you treat your own waste, for example using a solvent recovery still or a baler.

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