Current RAW management practices and strategies

16.1.2 Waste hierarchy and waste minimisation

A waste hierarchy is essentially a proactive management policy that priori­tises waste management options, with the overall aim of reducing the amount of waste that is ultimately disposed. The principle of the waste hierarchy has been the foundation of waste management policy for decades following its first appearance in EU policy in the mid-1970s and plays a central role in EU waste policy (Article 4 of the Waste Framework Directive). However, its introduction to RAW management did not take place until 2006-2008. The waste hierarchy (see Section 1.5.2) is summarised in Fig. 16.6.

Progression of the waste hierarchy towards the minimisation of the amount of wastes disposed does not necessarily go hand in hand with the most sustainable environmental option. Waste hierarchies are often imple­mented in a complementary way with BAT to ensure that sustainable approaches are integrated into the overall strategy. It is also implemented in combination with a life cycle approach, which affects every stage from design, construction, operation and decommissioning of disposal facilities.

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Because of the considerable volume and weight reduction involved in combustion, low level wastes in the UK, particularly plastic, cellulose products and oil wastes, are often incinerated. Incinerators accepting LLW and high volume VLLW are licensed under EPR (2010) for disposal of

radioactive waste. Low volume VLLW is exempt under EPR (2010) as radioactive waste, but the operator of an incinerator will still require per­mission for non-radioactive waste incineration.

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