Managing the impacts on health of waste management facilities

One of the biggest fears people have about living or working near a waste management facility is how its operation will affect their health. Ricardo Energy & Environment is at the forefront of addressing these concerns and aims to help organisations obtain the waste management facilities that are needed without affecting health or the environment. This requires an appreciation ofcurrent scientific knowledge, and an honest and open approach to the key health issues.

The big issues

Waste management facilities are complex, controversial, unpopular – and essential. While society continues to produce waste materials, facilities will be needed to sort, recycle, reprocess and treat waste to make the most of finite resources.

A new generation of waste management facilities is now being planned, designed and operated. At the same time, there is heightened interest, concern and uncertainty around the potential impacts that new and existing facilities have on health.

Addressing health issues in an appropriate way is an important step towards building the right waste treatment facility in the right place and in an appropriate timescale. The big issues acing stakeholders today include:

  • Local authorities and operators need to be confident that waste management facilities do not adversely affect health.
  • Local authorities and operators need to gain and retain the confidence of decision-makers responsible for waste procurement and planning decisions.
  • Planning risk is a major commercial difficulty for waste contracts. Health issues are among the most likely to cause delays in the planning process.
  • Local authorities and operators need the expertise to deliver high-quality and robust planning applications.
  • Moving the public debate on health issues forward will improve the deliverability of waste facilities and reduce the risk of political difficulties in the planning and permitting processes.
  • Existing facilities will need to be upgraded to meet increasingly stringent requirements (eg with regard to microbiological emissions).
  • There will be increasing focus on health issues associated with the products of waste treatment processes.
  • Control of impacts on the viability of natural ecosystems will be important.
  • New waste management techniques, in particular, will require careful consideration.

Why Ricardo Energy & Environment?

Ricardo Energy & Environment’s specialist waste and health team can support the successful delivery, implementation and operation of waste management strategies and facilities. We provide clear, reliable scientific advice on the health effects of waste management solutions.

The team has expertise in dealing with waste and health issues on projects including:

  • Preparing briefing notes for specialists and non-specialists.
  • Assessing health issues for a proposed hazardous-waste landfill site.
  • Conducting a risk assessment of pathogen emissions for a proposed in-vessel composting facility.
  • Carrying out health-risk assessments for anaerobic digestion, gasification and waste-to-energy facilities.
  • Providing expert witness evidence.
  • Working with local authority external affairs officers and chief executives.

Our services include:

  • Providing advice on key health issues such as ultrafine particulate matter/nanoparticles, dioxins, bioaerosols and infant mortality.
  • Providing advice on cross-disciplinary issues.
  • Preparing briefing notes and meetings.
  • Conducting risk assessment for combustion and biological processes.
  • Carrying out health impact assessments.
  • Reviewing third-party studies.
  • Providing consultation and training.
  • Carrying out media liaison


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