Changes Coming to UK Waste Tyre Rules
T8 or Not T8?
The UK’s Environment Agency has, through Howard Lebermann, been telling the Tyre Recovery Association (TRA) that the end of T8 Exemptions have been coming since, at least, 2016. The Scottish Environment Agency (SEPA) with a pro-environmental devolved government, where the environment is a devolved power, looked at the T8 Exemptions some years ago, and decided at very short notice, to end them. This revealed the level of organised crime involved in tyres collection, for one, and unfortunately created a cross border trade in tyre collections to evade the T8 removal in Scotland.
Lebermann told the TRA, at several forums that T8 would be going. The EA is an agency answering to Defra. When Tyre and Rubber Recycling made an FOI request to Defra about end of life tyre prosecutions for breach of T8 conditions, Defra had no data available.
As time passed, the ban on the T8 Exemption became a policy of tightening the rules to make having a T8 Exemption increasingly unsustainable, rather than an outright ban.
On 16th March 2022, The EA issued a new set of rules for Permitting of lower volume sites. This is apparently not an end to the T8 Exemption, but an option for those looking to upgrade, or make a new Permit application.
Under a T8 Exemption, which you can simply apply for by way of a telephone call, and apparently takes around 20-30 minutes to complete, an operator can: store or treat 60 tonnes of truck tyres or 40 tonnes of any other tyres over any 7-day period. That equates to 3,128 tonnes of truck, or 2,080 tonnes of other tyres per annum.
Under the T8, operators can treat end-of-life tyres under this exemption, by: Granulating, baling, peeling, shaving, shredding, or re-treading.
Shred and granulate can be treated under a T8 Exemption, but the work has to be done indoors – this can be an open-sided shed, apparently.
The new rules to be introduced soon, can be found under SR2021 No 13: storage and mechanical treatment of end-of-life tyres for recovery These impose some rather different conditions on recyclers looking to enter the market.
The activities are limited as follows:
(a) no more than 5,000 tonnes of waste shall be accepted each year
(b) no more than 100 tonnes of waste shall be stored at any one time
(c) no waste shall be kept at the site for longer than 3 months
(d) waste treatment is limited to: manual sorting, granulating, baling, peeling, shaving, shredding, cutting, repairing, retreading
Thus the new rules of Permitting at entry-level increase the volume of tyres that can be handled, and limit stockpiling to three months supply to prevent the creation of large collections of tyres being stored on site.
However, there also come some site requirements that were not always imposed on T8 Exempt sites. This is where increased capital/ operational costs might come into the picture.
The activities shall, subject to the rules of this permit, be operated using the following techniques:
(a) all waste shall be kept secure
(b) all treatment of waste shall be carried out inside a building, except for the manual sorting of tyre casings
(c) when located within a groundwater source protection zone 2, all waste shall be kept on an impermeable surface with a sealed drainage system
(d) when located outside a groundwater source protection zone 2, all waste shall be kept on hardstanding, or on an impermeable surface with sealed drainage system
There are more details available in the document, including, site specification, control of pollution, noise and fire prevention requirements.
Now, the EA has advised that this is NOT an end to T8 Exemptions, but an alternative route for new applicants. The EA advises that; “The SR2021 No 13 rules do not replace or limit the T8 exemption, which remains within Schedule 3 of the Environmental Permitting Regulations. The rules are available for new applicants, or existing permit holders who wish to vary their existing permit to the standard rules.” This suggests that existing T8 operators can continue until the end of their existing Exemption. Thereafter, when re-applying for their T8 they will become a “new applicant”, and if this is the case the TB Exemptions will be limited to some very small operations.
One of the bugbears of the T8 Exemption to the Permitted operators has always been the fact that the T8 Application had no cost associated, and by the EA’s own admission, as there was no revenue stream from Exemptions, they did not focus on monitoring their operations. Investigations were always “after the fact”. The new Permits will come at a cost, to be specified, and therefore will see an increased leval of monitoring by the EA, staffing levels allowing. Additionally, those continuing to operate under a T8 will become the focus of attention, quite simply on the basis that they will probably not be able to operate profitably and comply with the T8 requirements.
Whilst the EA say that the new rules do not end T8 Exemptions, they could make business difficult for Exempt operators, and quite frankly, it does not make any real sense to allow the T8 Exemptions to continue as a free alternative to a paid for low volume Permitted site.
The TRA were not available to comment at the date of publication. More details will follow when we have them.