Thursday, December 11, 2008

Anaerobic Digestion Biogas and EU REACH Implemetation

Last week immediately after the UK implementation of the REACH Regulations I found that I had to admit admit ignorance when I received a call in which I was asked whether biogas produced from waste would fall under the REACH regulations.

I was soon reassured by colleagues that all was OK for those, like me that had not even thought of this, and that biogas did not require REACH registration and compliance.

As an Engineer in waste processing I don't have responsibility for legal compliance, and hence this was not a major gap in my knowledge, nevertheless, I did not know of the background until I read Philip Charlesworth's article in the Chartered Institution of Waste Management's monthly journal for this month.

I am sure that Philip will not mind me copying a part of his article below, which hopefully makes the background to all this clear:

In October this year the lead REACH enforcement body, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), issued a fact sheet to explain the position on "recovered waste substances". This publication stated that "[waste] recovery businesses are considered to be manufacturers under REACH". A list of waste "recovery" operations is included in the imminent revision of the Waste Framework Directive (WFD).

Registration may be required where a new substance is produced in the manufacturing process. Where a substance has been recovered, or a new substance has been produced, and this is then incorporated into the manufacture of an "article", that “article” may not be caught by REACH.

An article is defined as an “... object which during production is given a special shape, surface or design which determinates its function to a greater degree than does its chemical composition".

This could apply to products made from recycled waste. It follows from Article 7 of REACH that substances contained within the "articles" that are not intended to be released from within the "articles" during use, would not need to be registered (unless the substances are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction).

REACH specifically exempts the following products that have been manufactured from waste substances; compost, biogas, glass and minerals occurring in their natural state.

These exemptions would appear to support the preamble to REACH, which states that incentives for waste recycling and recovery should be maintained. The exemptions also enable the Government to meet the objectives of Article 6 of the revised WFD by continuing to publish quality protocols for "end of waste" materials. Protocols are already available for compost and some aggregate products derived from waste.

The Government must have enforcement of REACH, following the expiry of the 1 December 2008 deadline. This will see the REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008 come into force (in accordance with Article 126 of REACH). The leading enforcement body (the "competent authority") is the HSE and it will have powers to take action against "recycling and recovery" operations that may have been required to register.

In England and Wales the HSE will join forces with the Environment Agency, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and local authorities to control the manufacture and placing on the market of articles and substances, protection of the environment and the safety of consumer products from chemical substances.

The European Chemicals Agency intends to publish a list of all the pre-registered substances in January 2009.

CIWM Members can email the CIWM for more information. Non-members requiring more information can contact Philip Charlesworth. I will have to avoid giving his email as it reads for fear of him receiving a lot of spam from this posting from the plague of spambots which continually scrape web pages for email addresses to send spam. I will therefore describe his ema-il address as containing after the @ sign preceded with the word info.

IF you are not already a CIWM member, why not consider applying?

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