What is the purpose of this legislation?
Pollution occurs when substances are released and adversely affect the environment and can affect human health and ecological systems. Common sources of pollution include fuels and oils, sewage, milk and detergents.
Pollution can happen accidently or deliberately and often impacts sites remote from its source.
There are numerous types of pollution which can be broken down as:
- Air pollution - which is the contamination of the air with particles which can lead to respiratory infections, heart diseases.
- Water pollution - resulting from the addition of pollutants to bodies of water which can lead to the contamination of large bodies of water with an impact on aquatic species. Industrial processes can also affect the thermal state of water which can reduce the dissolved oxygen content of water consequently affecting the water’s flora and fauna.
- Soil pollution - occurs when contamination of soil with pollutant particles either through a spillage or settlement of particles from the air.
Through soil, air or water contamination the pollutant particles can, through various means, enter other mediums and ultimately enter the human food chain.
The control of the emission of various pollutants into the environment, to consequently reduce the level of pollution is a feature of any environmental management plan.
Who is responsible for compliance and what needs to be done?
All businesses are required to work within a framework of Acts and Regulations which vary from region to region within the UK as do the respective regulatory bodies.
Some Regulations are prescriptive by process or by sector and require a permit, licence or an authorisation to ensure an activity is properly managed. Companies therefore need to be aware of their environmental duties and responsibilities to ensure that they are compliant.
Most Environmental protection legislation adopts the philosophy that the ‘polluter pays’ or that the cost of correcting any environmental damage is borne by the operator of the activity that caused the incident.
Additionally there is the concept of producer responsibility in that organisations are accountable for the environmental costs of their products throughout that products lifecycle.
Companies need to be aware of their environmental responsibilities in regard to waste management generated through their operations processes, which can include controlled wastes.