Agricultural waste was excluded from the regulations that controlled the management of household, commercial and industrial waste until 2005 in Scotland and 2006 in the remainder of the UK. The implementation of the following regulations means that waste management controls now also apply to agricultural waste and they have the same regulatory requirements as other commercial and industrial wastes.
Agricultural waste must have been produced on a 'farm' in the course of 'farming', it can be both natural and non- natural waste.
Common non-natural agricultural wastes include discarded pesticide containers, plastics, bags and sheets, tyres, batteries, clinical waste, old machinery, oil, packaging waste and much more (http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/sectors/32777.aspx).
Plastic packaging waste from agriculture represents approximately 1.5% of the overall volume of plastic packaging in the waste stream in England. The types of plastic wastes arising can vary and be both bulky and dirty often making the management of these wastes difficult. Around 135,500 tonnes of agricultural plastic waste is produced each year in the UK with;
The Agricultural Waste Plastics Collection and Recovery Programme is operating to try and tackle some of the agricultural plastic waste issues. The objective of the Programme is to try and identify best practice for the cost effective collection and recovery of agricultural waste plastics. They also aim to try and identify how Producer Responsibility for non-packaging farm plastics might work and how it can be linked in with other Government legislation, for example the packaging waste regulations.
A range of hazardous wastes arise on farms; these can include used syringes and needles, unused animal medicines, asbestos cement roof sheeting and waste oils. In 2003 there were 201,926 agricultural holdings within the UK and 86% of these produced waste oils. These wastes must be disposed of following the;
Further guidance on handling hazardous agricultural waste can be found here.
The common natural waste includes slurries and manure. A survey carried out in England, 2003, showed that 93% of all agricultural waste, 43 million tonnes was manure and slurries waste. In the UK, if manures and slurries are used as a fertiliser on agricultural premises then they are technically not seen as a waste and are exempt from waste management regulations. Other regulations still need to be followed such as ground water regulations, causing some restrictions on the spreading of manure and sludge to land.
Manure and slurry - Code of Good Agricultural Practice (COGAP)
Some of the previously common practices for disposal of agricultural waste, which are now not allowed, include:
The regulations mean that farmers and growers will now have to dispose or recycle agricultural waste in a way that will protect the environment and human health. Meaning farmers will have to:
Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2011 - The aim of the regulations is to protect human and animal health and the environment. It includes standards for the safe storage, transportation, treatment and disposal of animal by-products. For further key legislation see ABPR on A-Z pages.
The Duty of Care - The Duty of Care applies to all 'Controlled Waste' meaning it applies to all waste materials produced as part of a business. It is 'self regulating' in that waste should not be accepted by or given to anyone who is not authorised to take it.
The Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011
The Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 SI 63
Environmental Permitting Regulations - An environmental permit may be required if you deposit waste, keep waste, treat waste, dispose of waste. These Regulations combine the Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) and Waste Management Licensing (WML) regulations and their scope has now been widened to include water discharge and groundwater activities, radioactive substances and provision for a number of Directives, including the Mining Waste Directive.
Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2011
The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2011
The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012