MANY QUESTIONS were asked but few were answered at the ICE Wales conference on waste management last month.
Hot on the agenda was the issue of the European Union Landfill Directive which sets out to enforce more responsible waste disposal and increased use of recycling and composting.
The directive marks a huge change in the regulation of the waste industry, but also puts pressure on society to take responsibility for its waste.
The directive requires at least 40% of household waste to be recycled by 2010 and a minimum of 15% to be composted.
'In real terms this means that 80% of people need to recycle 80% of their waste by 2010, ' said Welsh Assembly head of waste strategy Dr Andy Rees.
From July this year codisposal of hazardous and nonhazardous waste in landfill sites is banned (NCE last week). Hazardous waste will have to be pretreated to reduce its mass or toxicity.
At the same time, the reclassification of much municipal waste as hazardous waste has dramatically increased the quantity of material requiring special treatment and disposal.
The cost of disposing of waste is set to rocket, with the cost of landfill projected to double as the space available in existing sites is used up.
The Environment Agency fears that flytipping will become more prolific as people try to avoid paying for the high cost of disposing of municipal and hazardous waste.
Waste management in the UK is facing crisis because there are insufficient treatment and hazardous waste disposal landfills Wales will be left without any commercial hazardous landfill sites beyond July.
'There is also no indication that non-hazardous landfills will provide separate cells for stabilised non reactive hazardous wastes such as asbestos, ' said Environment Agency Wales waste strategy and policy manager Martin Terry.
Around 600 new waste disposal sites are needed in Wales by 2010 to support predicted waste volumes.
But Welsh local government association adviser Mark Williams warned that the UK has left it too late to prepare for the Directive, creating a huge problem for itself.
'It takes about two years to procure a waste disposal site and an additional five to six years to gain planning permission and then construct, ' he said.
Redevelopment of brownfield sites will be a significant source of hazardous waste, in the form of contaminated soils. Developer Westbury Homes predicted that the cost of cleaning up contaminated land could far outweigh the returns from building on it.
Although the construction industry is proving slow to understand the implications of the new regulations, some developers are now rushing to get ground clean-up work completed before July to avoid the problem of disposal, said Arup associate Hugh Cherrill.