Flood waste now classified by the Environment Agency
Following the recent floods in the North of England, the Environment Agency have taken a new stance on flood waste. The new classifications will see various objects being newly classified as hazardous following a flooding incident where they may not have been previously, and vice versa.
Flood-damaged materials may sit in different places within the waste hierarchy, with some waste businesses still promoting the idea that all flood-damaged items from within households should be sent to landfill. This is due to the fact that the materials can be considered ‘hazardous’ on account of contamination by the floodwater, thus making them unsuitable for recycling.
The Environment Agency, however, has provided some additional information surrounding this issue, and by doing so has shed new light on the correct or alternative ways to classify flood-damaged household items, rather than simply labelling them ‘hazardous’. Indeed, an agency spokeswoman noted that, of course, household items do need to be removed following flooding, and in these instances they can then be treated in the usual way. She notes that “while items such as carpets and furniture may be damaged or contaminated and unsuitable after re-use, they are unlikely to be classed as hazardous after flooding unless they have come into contact with a significant amount of oil or other hazardous materials”.
She goes on to state, however, that “landfill is not the only option for waste disposal as recycling would still be possible in many cases”. Indeed there are other ways of dealing with the items rather than simply sending them to landfill; local councils are responsible for collection of domestic waste, and with their expertise they are able to make the correct decisions regarding the best course of action to take with the flood-damaged items.
DLCG has confirmed, further to this, that local authorities will be able to claim compensation for any flood-related expenditure, and this furthers the motivation to deal with flood-damaged items appropriately as opposed to simply classifying it as hazardous and disposing of it in this manner. As well as this, councils have been advised by the Environment Agency to follow the guidance issued by Public Health England. This guidance includes placing flood-damaged food waste in plastic refuse sacks in order to prepare them for collection, using double bagging wherever possible to ensure no leaks or spillages. Finally, the guidance advises householders to ensure any household chemicals and oils which may have come into contact with the contaminated floodwater are kept away from other household waste.
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