UK-wide ‘WM3’ waste classification survey launched

letsrecycle.com readers have been asked to take part in a UK-wide survey seeking to identify the challenges and user needs around waste classification and assessment.

The guidance on the classification and assessment of waste guidance (WM3) is due to be updated

The results of the survey will inform the approach of the UK’s environmental regulators as they update the ‘WM3’ guidance, which is used to help producers, managers and regulators classify waste accurately, so that it can be recycled or disposed of “properly”.

The survey is funded and managed by Natural Resources Wales on behalf of all the UK’s environmental regulators, which include the Environment Agency, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), and Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

WM3 is due to be reviewed and refreshed in line with updated regulations, changes following Brexit, and to meet web accessibility requirements.

Environmental consultancy SLR Consulting has been commissioned to deliver the survey. Organisations interested in participating can send enquires to WM3-Survey@slrconsulting.com. Further information about the survey is available on NRW’s website.

Guidance

NRW has commissioned the survey to try and understand:

  • How WM3 is currently used by organisations;
  • How organisations that do not use WM3 approach waste classification;
  • How the guidance can be made more user-friendly to different user groups, regardless of whether they use WM3.

Classifying waste includes selecting appropriate waste codes and, where applicable, describing the waste’s hazardous properties following an assessment.

Opportunity

Martin Garrett, SLR’s project manager on the survey, said he welcomed the opportunity to engage with a variety of operators within the waste management sector and understand the challenges around waste classification.

We want to understand the ways organisations engage with waste classification

Martin Garrett, SLR

He is encouraging organisations to participate with the survey, regardless of whether employees use WM3 directly or classify waste using other means.

“We understand from pre-survey engagement with the sector that there is a spectrum of user groups when it comes to waste classification, from those who use WM3 in a highly technical capacity through to the majority of users who participate in waste classification more broadly,” Mr Garrett said.

“We want to understand the different ways organisations engage with waste classification and the challenges they face.

“This will provide invaluable information when considering sensible recommendations on how any future revisions to the guidance can help different user groups.”

Interviews

The survey team brief has targeted interviewing up to 450 participants, representing organisations across different sectors of industry, including small, medium, and large-scale operators. This will include waste producers, the waste management industry, environmental regulators, consultants and industry bodies.

SLR Consulting has been commissioned to deliver the survey

To help inform the survey design, a virtual workshop was held in May, attended by WM3 practitioners and waste classification experts from a variety of organisations within the waste industry, including the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, members of the Environmental Service Association’s hazardous waste working group and UROC, as well as representatives from the four UK regulatory agencies.

The initial findings will be tested and enhanced with a small number of more in-depth interviews with representatives from different user groups in the autumn.

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