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Hazardous waste responsibilities

7 June 2006

Veterinary surgeons risk falling foul of hazardous waste regulations if they don't take care to ensure their waste contractor is reputable and uses an authorised disposal site.

During July 2005, new Hazardous Waste Regulations came into force which mean that producers of more than 200kg of hazardous waste within England or Wales have to register with the Environment Agency. Many veterinary practices fall into this category.

The new Regulations require hazardous waste producers to, amongst other things:

  • Classify hazardous waste and dispose of it correct

  • Notify (register) their premises to the Environment Agency

  • Fill in consignment notes with a premises code, consignment code and hazardous waste codes

Problems arise when a waste disposal contractor deals with the waste in an illegal manner - either by taking it to an unregistered disposal site or by fly-tipping. In such cases, responsibility remains with the veterinary practice, as the waste producer, and they may be liable for prosecution.

Following a series of reports that veterinary waste is being illegally disposed of across the UK, the BVA and the BSAVA have worked closely with the Environment Agency to develop guidelines for veterinary practices.

These guidelines will be available on the BVA website during June and interim advice can be found there now.

Veterinary surgeons are also advised to check the Environment Agency's list of authorised waste carriers and to telephone the waste disposal site used by the contractor to ensure waste has arrived. A list of registered hazardous waste incinerators can be found online.

Detailed information on the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 is available on the Environment Agency website or by calling 08708 502 858.

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