The Environmental Protection Act 1990 or the EPA 1990 was released by the parliament of the United Kingdom and provided the essential method and legislation for waste management and control of waste impact on the environment in terms of emissions (Waste Online 2004). According to statistics the United Kingdom produces 109 million tons of waste annually (The A to Z of Builiding 2007). A quarter of this is said to be from the construction, agricultural, mining and sewage industries.
Most of this waste ends up in a landfill however about 35% of industrial waste is recycled in some way. According to the BBC the amount of waste produced by construction companies is three times as much as the collective waste of every household in the United Kingdom (Drechsler 2006). The regulation of waste in the United Kingdom is categorized under two broad categories. One is controlled waste and the other is uncontrolled waste.
The first refers to the waste that is covered by the disposal system already in place and encompasses household waste and the second is the waste that is produced from various industries. There is a legislation known as the duty of care law which specifies that all waste that is produced, imported, carried, kept, stored, transported, treated, controlled, recycled and disposed must be kept safe by those who do so. And it must be transferred to a waste management authority with a written description of the type of waste present.
This legislation acts as a supplement to the EPA. The Act also specified that the collection and recycling of all packaging waste is the responsibility of the producer of such waste. The Act also brought the waste management licensing system into being. This legislation deals with the licenses for the deposit, disposal and treatment and use of a mobile plant to dispose of or treat controlled waste. The proposal is set in place to ensure an efficient waste management system is in place without causing harm to the environment or to human health.
Additionally the Act also specified that landfills must have a permit to be created and filled. However before its creation it must be classified as a hazardous waste, inert waste or non-hazardous waste landfill so that only relevant waste can be deposited there. It also gave guidelines for the incineration of waste (Office of Public Sector Information 1990). When we consider the waste that is produced from construction and demolition we must consider the materials that are produced from these industries.
This includes items such as concrete, wood, asphalt, gypsum, metals, bricks, glass, plastics, salvaged building components and tree stumps, earth and rocks from clearing sites. The EPA contends to increase the reusability and recyclability of these items so that companies can avoid disposal expenses. A study of the amount of waste made by construction and demolition industry found that it created 90 million tons in 2003. Of this 50% was recycled, 18% was spread on empty land and 32% ended up in a landfill (Voronova 2006).
Many companies have realized that in order to remain competitive in today’s environmentally conscious market they must take steps to ensure that not only their workers but also their sub-contracted workers fulfill their obligations to safeguard the environment. In order to take responsibility for their own actions companies have taken it upon themselves to participate in three steps which will increase their environmental knowledge and experience. Firstly, they must monitor the amount of waste that the company produces.
Secondly, in order to carry out projects such as opening oil refineries companies now have to create a report which not only details the processes that will be used in running these installations but also assess the impact it will have on the local nature, wildlife as well as the human population. The last one is to ensure the continuing flow of information so that they can make the best decision assessing the risks to both the company and the environment (Parkinson 1995).