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An Explanation Of The Waste Incineration Directive

Aug 18, 2008
Waste incineration has been a traditional method of dealing with unwanted domestic and industrial waste since man was rubbing sticks together to create fire. In 1970 the first waste incineration plants were functional that harnessed the power in the chemical reaction created by the incineration. As with many technological developments the by-products and environmental effects were not considered fully.

The UK today greatly lags behind the rest of Europe in waste incineration due to the wide availability of landfill sites, however in recent decades the gradual recognition that this method of waste treatment causes massive and constant release of methane into the atmosphere has caused the environment agency to initiate schemes such as, the landfill tax and the landfill allowance trading scheme.

Due to alternative waste treatments, waste incineration has increased in popularity which has caused for the practice to be tightly regulated. This is due to potentially toxic fumes and by-products created from the incineration process. Heavy metals such as, manganese, vanadium, nickel, arsenic, mercury, chromium, lead and cadmium are emitted which can be toxic at miniscule levels.

There are other potential pollution problems if waste incineration is left unregulated which is why the Waste Incineration Directive was produced by the European Parliament in December 2000, defining process, regulation and penalties of waste incineration. In December 2005, some five years later the deadline was made by the environment agency not for operators to have a Pollution Prevention and Control or PPC permit, but to have applied for one.

This means that if you burn liquid or solid waste of any description in a technical unit then you must meet minimum technical standards and maximum omission levels. Technological advances in waste incineration systems, especially filters have seen it become one of the most environmentally friendly methods of waste treatment. This is only true if the strict conditions regarding omission levels and by-product disposal of the directive are followed to the letter.

On 6th April 2008, the PPC and the Waste Management Licensing or WML regimes merged to create Environmental Permitting or EP regulations. There has been no change to the PPC regulations of 2000 and it is now a combined initiative tackling emissions to land, water and air. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has in depth waste incineration directive guidance, covering everything from hazardous waste incineration to the cremation of human remains.

The only way of ensuring waste incineration conditions are followed is to choose a reputable supplier of gas filtration systems and filters. This can potentially be a high capital outlay however can avoid heavy financial penalties or business closure. Certain air filtration systems compatible with waste incineration can guarantee 95 percent below WID emission limits rendering it the most effective form of waste disposal, even more so than recycling.
About the Author
Shaun Parker is a consultant on waste incineration and an expert of implementing waste incineration directive legislation.
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