Environmental and Safety Law

When we consider the historical effects of waste production on nature, we find that the production of waste in pre-industrial times was not as extensive as it is today. At the time people used to live in less concentrated groups and their waste production did not affect the ecosystem around them. However the dawn of the industrial age has brought with it problems of over population and thus an increasing demand for materials, this lead to the creation of waste disposal systems. They not only got rid of the excess waste but also endeavored to find ways to reuse materials.

One of the first waste legislations ever passed in the United Kingdom was in 1848 by way of the Public Health Act. This act was extended in 1875 to include legislation which gave local authorities the duty of waste removal and disposal. It also specified that the members of the household had to collect all of their waste in a movable receptacle. When the manufacturing of plastics reached their peak around the 1950s there was a substantial increase in the amount of non-biodegradable plastic packaging and toxic inks which increased the amount of waste produced within cities.

It was not until 1936 that the Public Health Act was again revised to include rules which saw the accumulation of waste as a health hazard. This Act also laid down guidelines for the creation and management of landfill sites and allowed the law to prosecute anyone who would overlook them. The two world wars however placed the importance of waste management in the background. There was however some effort from local councils to manage the disposal of waste without much success.

After the war the increase in the number of landfills continue without the consideration of their effect on the environment. The increased industrialization of British society creates more waste than ever before from all industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining and quarrying and food processing. The recommendation of the working party chosen by the Duke of Edinburgh created the Royal Commission on Environmental pollution in 1960. Subsequently private contractors began to take over the collection and disposal of waste which was previously the duty of the government.

These private waste contractors eventually become the National Association of Waste Disposal Contractors. The first truly well thought out waste legislation came during the 1970s which not only addressed the continuing problem of chemical waste but also provided waste and safety guidelines. It also spoke about its effects on the environment and the increasing depletion of resources. In 1974 this concern leads to the Control of Pollution Act which set up a more controlled waste disposal system and guidelines for the regulation of sites.

The increased production of waste by the construction boom causes 1 million tones of illegally deposited waste around London. This eventually leads to the Environmental Protection Act in 1990. This act replaced the 1974 Act with a new waste control system that covers all controlled wastes and also implores authorities to reconsider their recycling strategies. This was supplemented by the Duty of Care Act and the establishment of the environmental agency. In 1996 they set a target to recycle 25% of all household waste by the year 2000.