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Scrap ‘Waste Transportation Licence’ requirements for small businesses and sole traders

Comment 2nd July 2010

As an electrical contractor I often carry products in my van for installation in customers premises.   However, if I carry the products which I have replaced in my van, then these are classed as 'Commercial Waste' and I am required to have a licence to transport this.   On a similar basis, I can carry as many 'new' fluorescent tubes as I want in the vehicle – despite these contailing a very small quantity of mercury, there are no special requirements for this.   If however, I place even ONE blown lamp in the vehicle, this is classed as hazardous waste and I must apply for a 'hazardous Waste Transportation Licence' as well as a licence to produse this type of waste.   Therefore, it's easier for me to just let the customer dispose of these items as refuse.   Why do I require a licence to transport an item which I could return to the place of purchase (electrical wholesalers) for safe and proper disposal.   Since the introduction of the WEEE regulations, this service is paid for at time of purchase and therefore there is no charge for returning these items later for disposal – the electrical wholesalers have the disposal container ready and waiting, but I am unable to return these items to them as I could be prosecuted for transporting them.   The 'Hazardous Waste Transportation Regulations' is surely counter-productive and prevents people from doing the right thing and returning these products for safe disposal, instead opting to dispose of them as refuse and avoid paying for a Waste Transportation licence' – something that is very expensive for a sole trader or small business.  These regulations need to be scrapped or changeed!

Why does this matter?

Scrapping or updating these regulations will have several effects:   It will actually help reduce fly tipping and illegal disposal of items which could be recycled – especially as this service has already been paid for at the time of purchase.   As a result, this will benefit the environment by ensuring hazardous waste such as fluorescent tubes and lamps are not landfilled.   Of course, exceptions should still apply – items such as clinical waste, radioactive waste and other more dangerous items should not be exempt, but items for which other regulations (such as the WEEE regulations apply, should be removed.   This will also save small companies from a mountain of paperwork, red tape and expensive charges.

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