New waste storage requirements
At the beginning of 2021, the Regulation of the Minister of Climate of 11 September 2020 on Detailed Requirements for Waste Storage will come into force. The aim of the regulation is to establish uniform standards for waste storage and thus limit the negative impact of this activity on the environment.
Until now, due to the lack of detailed regulations, the requirements for waste storage in Poland have been set each time in an administrative decision regulating or permitting a given activity. This led to the establishment of non-uniform waste storage conditions, which differed according to the practice of the local authority. Waste storage conditions were often stated too generally in decisions, and in extreme cases were completely ignored. Thus there was a need to adopt a regulation setting detailed, uniform obligations for waste storage.
Who will be subject to the new requirements?
The regulation is addressed to waste producers pre-storing waste, and entities collecting waste and processing waste. However, the regulation will not apply to, among others:
- Producers of hazardous waste up to 100 kg per year or non-hazardous waste up to 5 tonnes per year
- Producers of waste for which there is no obligation to keep waste records
- Storage of municipal waste by producers of municipal waste
- Storage of waste batteries and electrical and electronic equipment.
Generally, for the purpose of this article, two types of storage can be distinguished, for which different requirements are specified as to where and how they are to be carried out.
Group I—producers not exceeding thresholds and “construction” waste
The first group of requirements includes the storage of waste by entities that initially store the waste they produce at the place of its generation, where:
- They generate up to 1 tonne of hazardous waste per year or up to 100 tonnes of non-hazardous waste, or
- The waste they store was created, among other things, as a result of construction, demolition or renovation of buildings, cleaning, maintenance or repair.
In such a case, the requirements for how and where the waste is to be stored have been defined quite generally, as shown in the table below.
Group II—other waste
In the case of storage of waste that does not qualify for Group I, the following requirements generally apply. (This group excludes storage of, among other things, infectious medical waste and infectious veterinary waste. Additional requirements may apply to hazardous waste. The provisions on inert waste meeting the criteria for permission to landfill inert waste are partially applicable.)
The location of the different types of waste at the place of storage should be properly marked. The marking must at least indicate the waste codes (digits must be at least 2 cm high and 3 mm wide) and must be legible and durable. The marking should be made in a visible place so that the waste codes can be read at all times.
In addition, the most important requirements for how waste is stored include the need to provide:
- Technical equipment for waste storage, including:
- Packages, containers, tanks or bags
- Boxes separated by vertical walls or separate sectors allowing the storage of waste of a given type in stacks
- Land with a surface hardened using construction products
- Protection against the effects of atmospheric agents, minimising the impact of those agents on the waste (if it could cause the waste to have a negative impact on the environment or human life and health)
- Protection against the release of spills and effluents, including leachate (where spills or leachate may occur causing pollution of soil or water), including through use of:
- Sealed packages, containers or tanks
- Sealing and impermeable substrate with a system for removing or collecting wastewater and sewage.
Interestingly, in the case of storage of certain types of waste (such as dredging spoil, construction rubble, ceramics, aggregates, wood and wood-based waste), there will be no requirement to provide an area for storage of such waste with a surface hardened using construction products, or to use sealed containers or an impermeable substrate (which does not necessarily mean, however, that the place where such waste is stored should not be secured against the release of leaks into water or soil).
Preliminary storage of waste that could qualify for Group I should be adapted to the new requirements by the end of 2021. However, this only applies to such pre-storage carried out before 1 January 2021.
Storage operators who can qualify for Group II are given more time to adapt their activities to some of the new requirements. The postponement of obligations concerns only some of the new requirements. This seems to apply to the requirements most demanding for entities storing waste. These include for example providing a hardened surface, protecting waste against atmospheric agents, and using a system for eliminating or collecting leaks. In such cases, areas where waste was stored before entry into force of the regulation should be adapted to meet the new requirements by the end of 2022.
The regulation exempts entities which before 1 January 2021 obtained an administrative decision setting out detailed requirements for waste storage. As long as such a decision remains in force, only the storage requirements set out in the decision will apply.
Undoubtedly, the new rules will contribute to reducing the negative impact of waste storage on the environment by introducing uniform and detailed requirements for carrying out such activities. However, application of the regulation may prove cumbersome in practice due to the imprecise transitional provisions. The regulation does not establish guidelines allowing entities holding administrative decisions on the production or management of waste to precisely assess whether they are obliged to adapt their activities to comply with the requirements set out in the regulation. This is an obvious shortcoming of the regulation.
Nina Kuśnierkiewicz, Environment practice, M&A and Corporate practice, Wardyński & Partners