In June 2015, the UK’s existing waste classification guidance (WM2) was updated and replaced by WM3. WM3 and the former WM2 outline a system, created for those who manage and regulate waste, to assess the potential for hazards within the waste and to ensure it is handled with the appropriate duty of care.
Helen McDonnell is a principal environmental scientist for SOCOTEC’s Infrastructure & Energy division. She has been a key member of the SOCOTEC team for over twenty years. Here, she offers advice around the UK’s recently updated waste management guidance.
Why is this guidance important?
Much of the estimated 48 million tonnes of industrial and commercial waste material generated in the UK every year comes from construction sites, chemical plants or factories. This means it is at risk of containing toxins and contaminants that can cause harm to people or the environment. For that reason, identifying any hazards and disposing of waste appropriately is vital.
How does WM3 differ from WM2?
- Chemicals in wastes are now to be assessed against a different set of criteria, known as hazard statement codes
- WM3 also contains an updated List of Waste (LoW), a legal classification system for those who need to identify different types of waste and their potential hazards
- With regard to flammability testing, the threshold/temperature at which a flammable classification applies has changed for some substances
- Consideration must now be given to the potential presence of persistent organic pollutants in any waste stream
How can I make sure to adhere to the changing standards?
- Any chemical constituents must be suitably classified following the guidelines in WM3. Once complete, a waste code will be assigned from the LoW
- All documents and records should then be filled out accordingly before any waste is moved, disposed of or recovered
In order to accurately classify contaminants in waste or soil, and determine whether they are hazardous, or non-hazardous, there should always be a consultancy stage, particularly when dealing with material of unknown origin or constituents.
How can SOCOTEC help me with waste classification?
- At SOCOTEC, we offer advice, expertise and guidance to ensure our clients are able to quickly identify hazards in their waste and classify them in line with WM3 guidance
- To help clients handling potentially contaminated construction soils, we also offer chemical fingerprint testing services to identify specific hazards in construction waste