Duty Care Compliance Waste Management

Introduction

This paper purposes to explore on the European Union Environmental law and in this case, it will provide an understanding of the EU case law. Notably, the current definition provided in the 2008, Waste Framework Directive state that waste is “any substance or object, which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard.” Firstly, this paper will explain the relevant case law and the manner in which it has changed the understanding of discard. Secondly, this paper will expound on the EU Environmental Law and Brexit. Thirdly, the paper will provide an understanding of compliance with the ‘Duty of Care,’ whereby, it will explain the actions that owners of coffee grounds and bio-bean take to ensure compliance with the ‘Duty of Care’

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Explanation of the relevant European case law: how it has changed the understanding of discard

The EA, as well as the NRW, regulate the waste legislation in Wales and England, such that they see to it that waste is correctly managed through reusing, recycling, or through disposal according to the set environmental regulations. In line with this, the European case law interprets the definition of waste, with respect to ‘discard.’ It has provided various interpretations to the definition of waste, whereby, although it does not purpose to change the definition, the word ‘discard’ has been interpreted differently, to include “effectively,” “required to discard” and “unintentional discard” (Wadelin, 2019).

As a result of the European case law changes, regulators have made it clear that in an instance where someone can take a material and use it in the production of a product without it being subjected to a recovery operation, then the material should not be regarded as waste. In this regard, it should not be discarded, owing to the fact that it is equivalent to a virgin feedstock. The European case law also makes it clear that if a material accumulates in someone’s property, then it may be regarded as discarded, unless the holder/owner, in such a case, can demonstrate that the material has a certainty of use, or if it is having market value (Wadelin, 2019). This is owing to the fact that once a material has been classified as a waste, it is often very difficult removing the tag. Moreover, the European case law notes that if an individual wishes to re-use, or recycle an object or material rather than arranging for its disposal, or in an instance where the material has a market value, then it should not be considered as a waste, to be discarded. A non-waste material is also referred to as such, in an instance where a material is kept or transferred to others, in order for use for its original purposes such as Freecycle, or even freebie schemes. However, the holders may have had them discarded. In addition, if their holders take such materials to a civic amenity site, for them to be disposed of, they then become wastes (Wadelin, 2019).

EU Environmental law and Brexit

When the UK became a member of the European Economic Community (presently known as the EU) in 1973, it introduced a source of law. In this regard, the ECC acknowledged that various different standards were capable of creating trade barriers, and distorting the market. In order to avoid such a situation, and in creating a level playing ground, the EU brought forth directives, regulations, as well as decisions, whereby, most of the environmental law is presently driven by the EU. Directives are the legal acts of the EU, which are addressed to its member states, thus requiring that they have to be transposed into the legislation of the member states. On the other hand, legislation and decision are self-executing, as they do not need any UK implementation, owing to the fact that they are clear, unconditional, and also precise (Wadelin, 2019). If the UK leaves the EU, there are various actions relating to the EU environmental law that it will have to take whilst taking into consideration the EU Directives, Regulations, and Decisions, should it desire to retain or revoke them.

There will be need to pass a repeal bill in Parliament, in order to ensure that in the future. The European law will not have to take any precedence over the laws that are passed in the UK. In line with this, it will end the European Court of Justice Jurisdiction. The repeal bill will purpose to remove the EU law supremacy, whereby, the UK will be granted back its control (Wadelin, 2019). The House of Commons will pass the bill and if it wins it, it will then be forwarded to the House of Lords, which is the upper house of the parliament, composed of unelected members. Once the House of the Lords approves the bill, both houses are then given the final change of considering the proposed amendments, which are made by the other house during the process, whereby, the bill wording must be agreed upon fully by both houses prior to it being passed.

When the House of Commons and the UK parliament decide to vote, repealing the act, they revert the UK to a system where EU laws are no longer relevant in the country. In order for the UK not to lose all the legal systems that had been set up in the EU laws in the recent years, the bill purposes to copy and paste all the EU law in the statute books of the UK. In addition, it provides power, which enables the parliament to amend, repeal, or even improve the previous EU laws, where it is deemed necessary. In other words, the UK will be able to decide whether to keep or even repeal all the legislation derived from the directives. New legislation will be passed in the UK parliament if it wishes to retain the EU regulations, or decision when it decided to leave the EU (Wadelin, 2019). This then implies that the EU will no longer govern the UK, and as such, it will no longer adhere to the set standardized or unified laws on environmental law. Overall, it is significant to take note of the fact that the repeal bill is regarded as one of the largest projects of the legislation, which can be conducted in the UK. This is owing to the fact that replacing the EU laws is not a straightforward process, and it is notable that not all laws can be changed through the repeal bill only. For instance, swathes of the British laws refer to the EU institutions only (Wadelin, 2019).

The actions that owners of coffee grounds and bio-bean take to ensure compliance with the ‘Duty of Care

The ‘Duty of Care’ refers to a legal requirement, for any individual dealing with controlled waste, which requires them to take all the reasonable steps towards ensuring that they manage waste properly and also according to the set regulations. The duty of care is stipulated under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, under section 34. It is worth noting that a breach of this act could result into a penalty of £5,000, in an instance where the Magistrates Court convicts it, or it can result into an unlimited fine in an instance where it has been convicted in the Crown Court, accompanied by a custodial sentence (Wadelin, 2019). Owners have determined coffee grounds to be non-waste, owing to the fact that they can be utilized immediately, without having to be subjected to any form of recovery operation. For example, bio-bean became the first company in the globe to re-cycle utilized coffee grounds on an industrial scale. In this regard, the ‘Duty of Care’ fails to apply to the grounds. Although, research suggests that within the grounds, caffeine has a negative effect on plants/seeds growth and probably, the environmental regulator will not accept such in the future. However, it should be the utmost responsibility of owners to ensure that they dispose of their wastes, unless if in a position to recycle them (Wadelin, 2019). Notably, household waste is stipulated in the Environment Protection Act 1990, under section 75, and it this includes wastes from various domestic properties, residential homes, as well as caravans. On the other hand, the householder’s duty of care is stipulated in the Environmental Protection Act 1990, under section 34 (this is inserted by the Duty of Care Regulations 2005).

In ensuring compliance with the ‘Duty of Care,’ it is the responsibility of the waste owner/holder to determine whether a material or a substance should or should not be regarded as waste. In an instance where the owner regards it as waste, then it should fall under the waste category, thus, needs to be discarded. In this regard, it will not cease being regarded as waste until it undergoes the subject of recovery operation (this is where waste is converted to a non-waste) (Wadelin, 2019). When materials become wastes, they remain wastes until they are made subject to a recovery process, which is carried out in accordance with an agreed standard or protocol. However, in ensuring an End-of Waste status, the WRAP/ EA develop waste protocols, which if followed correctly, purpose to ensure that products are saleable from the waste. This then brings forth the understanding that the regulatory authority would not overrule the waste decision of the owner/holder. However, it is clear that non-waste decisions may be overruled in certain instances (Wadelin, 2019).

Moreover, the owners of coffee grounds should ensure that the recovery, as well as disposal of waste should require an environmental permit, as stipulated under the EU legislation. This should be in line with the principal objective that aims towards preventing harm that may cause harm to the environment and human health. This legislation is transposed into the 2010 Environmental permitting regulations. The environmental permits are required for sites that have wastes re-cycled, treated, stored, or even disposed of, as well as in small waste incineration plant, specifically, where certain kinds of wastes are burned (Wadelin, 2019). Notably, the main objective of the permitting scheme is for prevention of harm to the environment and human health, owing to the fact that they entail pollution risk, and also, the scale of the operation often determines whether the permit application is made to the local authority, Environmental Agency of NRW. Of significance is also the fact that the regulations provide an exemption from the necessity of having a permit. However, there are rules that are set, which bind every type of exempt activities, and the operation should still remain registered with relevant authorities. For instance, in the construction site, the importation of clean soil to a given landscape, avoiding the cost of landfill for the developer, and also the purchase costs for the entire industry, whilst benefitting the whole environment (Wadelin, 2019).

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Conclusion

From the above provision, it is evident that the EA, as well as the NRW see to it that waste is correctly managed through reusing, recycling, or through disposal according to the set environmental regulations. The European case law interprets the definition of waste, whilst referring to ‘discard.’ The word ‘discard’ has been interpreted differently, to include “effectively,” “required to discard,” and “unintentional discard.” The ECC acknowledged that various different standards were capable of creating trade barriers, and distorting the market. In order to avoid such a situation, the EU brought forth directives, regulations, as well as decisions, whereby, the EU presently drives most of the environmental law. If the UK leaves the EU, there will be need to pass a repeal bill in Parliament, in order to ensure that in the future; the European law will not have to take any precedence over the laws that are passed in the UK. In line with this, it will end the European Court of Justice Jurisdiction. Finally, the ‘Duty of Care’ deals with controlled waste, which requires owners to take all the reasonable steps towards ensuring that they manage waste properly and also according to the set regulations.

References

  • Environmental Protection Act 1990, section 34
  • Environment Protection Act 1990, section 75
  • Duty of Care Regulations (2005)
  • Bibliography

  • Wadelin, G. (2019). Lecture 1: Environmental Law and the Circular Economy. Retrieved [online]

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