27 August 2020 by Robyn White

Agency alters standard rules for some materials 

The Environment Agency has published a response document on its standard rules consultation (number 21), covering both mattress and tyre recycling, as well as paper, card and plastic bulking.

The response document was released on 24 August and follows a consultation which ran for 15 weeks between October 2019 and January 2020.

The Environment Agency has published its response to the standard rules consultation (21)

It was aimed at those who carry out the treatment of waste mattresses, paper, cardboard, plastic and tyres for recovery.

Currently, operators can register a waste exemption for these activities, the Agency says. However, “government may change the law to require operators of these kinds of waste sites to have an environmental permit”.

The EA is developing these standard permits in readiness, but the consultation also includes revisions to existing standard rules sets.

Where an operator can meet the rules, the standard rules permit also provides an alternative to a bespoke permit.

“The government is currently considering a reform of these exemptions,” the document says, and the consultation was held so the standard rules permits are “available, if needed, as soon as a decision is made”.

The full document can be seen here.

Pandemic delay

It comes as one of a number of standard rules permits the Environment Agency is in the process of reviewing. However, this process has been delayed by the Coronavirus pandemic.

An Agency spokesperson said: “Due to the impacts of Covid-19, we are experiencing a significant backlog in permitting work which includes applications made by operators for proposed new or expanded operations. In order to enable the country to restart, aid economic recovery and support green renewal we have decided to focus our resource on this permitting work. Work to review permits will recommence as soon as possible and we will keep you updated on the situation.”


The standard rules capacity limit for mattresses will be increased by 500 tonnes to 4,000 tonnes

For mattresses, the Environment Agency says it will be raising the standard rules capacity limit by 500 tonnes to 4,000 tonnes.

It will also raise the maximum quantity of waste in treatment, or awaiting treatment, to 80 tonnes or 2,500 mattresses, from 60 tonnes, or 2,400 mattresses.

The quantity of waste allowed to be stored on site at a time will also be raised to 260 tonnes from 220 tonnes.

As a result of the comments received, the EA also proposed an increase to the maximum of waste storage duration to 3 months “which will be consistent with fire guidance”.

Paper, card, plastic

The Agency added it will be raising the limits for paper, card and plastic to 120,000 tonnes per annum, which it said remains lower than allowed under the current T4 emption, which allows waste to be treated to reduce its volume for transport. The limit was previously 75,000 tonnes.

The Agency will also raise the maximum quantity of waste on site to 2,400 tonnes from 1,500 tonnes and increase its annual subsistence fee to £5,794.


The EA said that it will raise the restriction for the amount of tyres allowed to be stored on site to 5,000 tonnes per annum, from 3,500.

It will also raise the maximum quantity of waste on site at one time to 100 tonnes from 60 tonnes.

“We believe these changes are proportionate and will still prevent pollution of the environment and harm to human health”

Environment Agency

It added that following comments received, it will also change rules to allow manual sorting of tyre casings outside the building.

“We believe these changes are proportionate and will still prevent pollution of the environment and harm to human health,” the Agency explained.


In the introduction to its response, the Environment Agency said the standard rules permits will be “attractive” to  operators anticipating the changes government may make to waste exemptions following its public consultation in 2018, which looked to raise the standard of operator competence at permitted waste sites


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