Confusion over Exempt sites allowances in England and Wales – The EA responds unequivocally
Are T8 Exemption Allowances Being Changed?
The following news appeared in several outlets last week regarding Exemptions, the practice of allowing non-hazardous waste to be handled in England and Wales without a full Waste Permit. The Tyre Exemption is known as a T8.
In response to a consultation, yet to be fully released, it was said…
“For tyres, the waste quantity limits proposed were again too low to be viable, respondents said.
Limits will be set at 5,000 tonnes a year and the maximum quantity of waste on-site to 100 tonnes. Manual sorting of tyre casings outside buildings will be permitted.”
It was added that the response on standard rules was made in the absence of a Government announcement on how waste permit exemptions are used.
This apparent increase in allowances for T8 sites flies in the face of pressure from industry, and claims, over several years, that the T8 Exemption was to be removed. It appeared to be a case of the government kicking the can further down the road. Not only that, at a time when there is an apparent desire to move people from T8 Exemptions into Permitted operations, increasing the volumes of tyres they can handle seems to be an encouragement to use the T8.
Tyre and Rubber Recycling took this up with Howard Leberman, Senior Advisor Waste Treatment & Storage at the EA. We asked, “We understand that the volumes that Exempt sites will be permitted to trade and store are being increased? Surely, this flies in the face of all the evidence against Exempt sites? What is the logic of increasing their capacity rather than enforcing full Permitting for all tyre operators?
The response from Leberman was as follows; “We expect the T8 waste exemption to either be withdrawn or restricted to just retreading.
“You, therefore, may be referring to our recent standard rule permit consultations on treatment of tyres and on storage of tyre shred? These consultations are on a risk-based and proportional approach to permitting – a standard rules approach or a bespoke site-specific approach. The consultations frame what a SR permit approach would look like and asks whether we have got this right.”
Tyre and Rubber Recycling felt this was rather unclear in relation to the reported increases in capacities for T8 operations. So we asked again; “ We were asking because there were stories in other media last week about the increases in tonnage being allowed to Exempt sites – this seemed to fly in the face of the move towards removing T8. Why encourage a practice that you hope to remove?
“The response from collectors and recyclers has been that of dismay. One has begun investing many thousands to upgrade particularly because he thought that the T8 was going, and he would require a full Permit. He is not alone. Others are complaining about how this gives the rogue operators even more scope.
“How many years has the EA discussed the removal of T8? Why the ongoing prevarication?”
Leberman came back with an unequivocal response; “Reports on an increase in tonnage to the T8 waste exemption are false.
“I repeat my previous response. We expect the T8 waste exemption to either be withdrawn or restricted to just re-treading. Due to Covid and other work priorities, Defra has been unable to publish their consultation response document on changes to waste exemptions, yet. We hope that they may be able to publish later this year or early next.
“And to expand on this – we expect amendments to the Environmental Permitting Regulations to follow publication of Defra’s consultation response document and a short transitional period after which the T8 will either be withdrawn or restricted.
“In my opinion, we are looking to late August 2021 at the earliest before Operators move to permitting.
“Please note that exemptions are set out in regulation and it is for Defra and Parliament to make changes – not the Environment Agency.”
So, according to Leberman there have, so far, been no increases to T8 allowances. The blame for the lack of action on Exemptions lies firmly at the door of DEFRA and the government. The EA is only the “enforcer” as it were, not the lawmaker.
However, in relation to rogue operators, Leberman put the ball back in the court of the collection and recycling sector; “Operators who have registered and are complying in full with exemptions are legal – they are not rogue operators. However, those that fail to register an exemption and fully comply with the limits and conditions set out in that Exemption, are carrying out an illegal activity. Illegal waste activities can be reported to us via Crime Stoppers or directly to the Environment Agency.”
Ultimately, if your collection business is being harmed by rogue collectors, or you have suspicions about rogue operations, the onus is being placed on the legitimate operator to report the illicit players. The trade is essentially being told to police its own industry. The EA will not act on a rogue operator, with or without a T8, unless they are reported to Crime Stoppers or the EA directly.