The Environment Agency recently released details on proposed changes to its waste exemptions regime, which focuses on three areas: raising the standard of operator competence across permitted waste sites; reforming the exceptions element within the permitting regime; and introducing a fixed penalty notice for household waste duty-of-care offences.
The key waste areas which could be significantly impacted include tyre recycling, paper, cardboard and plastic recycling sites, and mattress recycling.
The Furniture Recycling Group (TFR Group) has been working with the Environment Agency and DEFRA on the standard rules for the Environmental Permitting Regulations Consultation in relation to the mattress recycling industry.
The proposed changes could see the Government remove mattresses as a waste type allowed under the ‘T12: manually treating waste’ and ‘S2: storage in a secure place exemption’ rules, reports TFR Group. The new standard rules would instead allow mattress recyclers to operate a mattress recovery facility at a specified location, to only deal with mattresses, to accept no more than 3500 tonnes of waste each year, to store no more than 220 tonnes of waste on the site at any one time, and to only carry out treatment that is for waste recovery only.
This treatment is restricted to the sorting, separating, baling, crumbing and shredding of mattresses, and the storage and treatment must be undertaken indoors.
TFR Group welcomes the proposed changes set out in the consultation, and feels it is a positive step for the mattress recycling industry as a whole.
MD Nick Oettinger says: “Currently, the exemption for mattress recycling operations is five tonnes (the equivalent of around 200 mattresses), which is not enough for a business to operate on. On the other end of the spectrum, the license required for dealing with more than five tonnes is not commercially viable for many mattress recycling companies.
“The new standard rules permit will ensure only those who are serious about mattress recycling can obtain one, but will also be more cost effective to maintain, and help prevent the stockpiling of mattresses too.
“The consultation demonstrates that mattress recycling, and bulky waste, is becoming higher up on people’s agenda, and increasingly in demand due to our bursting landfill space. It’s great to see the industry is being recognised in its own right within waste management, and this consultation paves the way for the future of mattress recycling.”