In keeping with the European waste classification system, plastic waste is classified as non-hazardous, unless it is contaminated beyond specified threshold limits by dangerous substances. Further information on the classification of hazardous waste is provided in the Environment Agency's technical guidance document WM2, available on its website.
Pollutants enter the marine environment by a number of different pathways, from both land and sea-based sources, and are already subject to extensive controls under a variety of different measures, permits and licensing regimes. These include Part 2 of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 (FEPA), under which all deposits in the sea are controlled and the use of chemicals to disperse oil spills is authorised. The proposed Marine Bill intends to replace Part 2 of the FEPA with new streamlined arrangements for controlling such deposits and oil dispersants. It will also provide modernised inspection and enforcement tools and ensure that, where appropriate, a licensing authority will be able to require polluters to clean up pollution that they have caused.