This year, on May 1st, the provisions of the amendment to the Waste Management Law regarding the civil liability insurance of companies handling hazardous waste and tire waste came into force. The amendments are significant in ensuring that in case of ecological disasters, the consequences will be liquidated with non-state funds.
In companies handling hazardous waste and tire waste, due to irresponsible actions of waste handlers accidents and fires may occur and hazardous substances may enter the environment. This would cause damage to the residents, farmers, and other companies in the surrounding area.
Companies that have experienced such disasters would need to allocate funds to cover the damage, and not all waste handlers are financially capable of compensating for large damage, therefore the state would be forced to cover the losses.
What do these changes mean?
The amendments to the Law on Waste Management that came into force on May 1st establish that companies that collect, transport, and process not only hazardous waste but also non-hazardous ones (end-of-live tires) must have civil liability insurance. Companies must insure their civil liability for damage that may be caused to third parties (surrounding residents and employees of those companies) and their property as well as the environment during such activities or due to the operator’s carelessness or intent.
The property interests of the waste manager in connection with his civil liability will also be considered an object of the insurance. Compensation for environmental damage will also include the policyholder’s civil liability for damage to the environment and its elements caused by the policyholder’s illegal actions: water bodies, the surface of the earth and its deeper layers, ambient air, etc.
The insurance amount is determined by agreement between the insurer and the waste manager, but cannot be lower than EUR 50 000 in case of one insured event, and the minimum insurance amount for the entire insurance period cannot be lower than EUR 100 000.
The insurer will pay the insurance payment to the victim or to the Department of Environmental Protection, which is responsible for determining the damage caused to the environment.
A hazardous waste identification methodology has also been prepared
Other changes also help ensure a more sustainable and safer future: the Ministry of the Environment has prepared a unified methodology for identifying hazardous waste. The new methodology explains in detail how to correctly apply national and European Union legislation in order to ensure proper and efficient identification and sorting of hazardous waste so that hazardous waste is collected and managed safely.
There is a separate appendix to the methodology for the identification and classification of hazardous household waste, which provides advice not only on waste classification and identification but also information on where household hazardous waste must be disposed of.
Special schemes are used to identify and categorize non-household hazardous waste – by answering the given questions “yes” or “no”, you will find out whether the waste you have is hazardous. It is expected that this principle and schematically presented algorithms will facilitate the application of the methodology.
Based on the prepared methodology it is planned to create electronic tools for hazardous waste identification and classification in 2023. Using e-tools, residents and economic entities will be able to identify and classify hazardous waste generated in their households or during their economic activities more easily and quickly, and representatives of environmental protection institutions will be able to check whether economic entities and residents classify hazardous waste correctly.
It is planned that the code of the e-tools will be published and available (made open-source) to all interested parties who wish to use such tools on their websites, thus ensuring the dissemination of the tools, adaptability, wide use, and the possibility of easier and faster application of the developed methodology.
The development of the methodology and the e-tools is funded by the Haz-ident project, financed by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism.