In July of this year The Waste (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 were seen by ministers in an attempt to draw a line under the on-going legal dispute over collection methods.

Within this new amendment it stipulates that named recyclable material should be collected separately where necessary and where it is “technically, environmentally and economically practicable.”

If you would like to see the full new amendment, please click here.

Defra and the Welsh Government were forced to amend the law when reprocessors and opponents of commingled collections, concerned about recyclate quality, brought a judicial review (JR). The JR was halted in December 2011 after the Government said it would make a fresh attempt at transposing the EU revised waste framework directive (rWFD).

Although waste management firms as well as local authorities have supported the amendment that will effectively allow commingling, opponents have said that it is not good enough.

Andy Moore, from the Campaign for Real Recycling (CRR) which began this legal challenge last year, spoke out in July and said that the amendment was “still not an adequate transposition of the revised Waste Framework Directive”.

Former government official and WRAP head of local authorities, Phillip Ward, mentioned that he was concerned about the “low level of awareness” of the new regulations amongst councils and others.

Phillip Ward said:

“Legal arguments are continuing, but councils who think this is blanket permission to carry on commingling may be disappointed.”

Ward also said that council letting new contracts would need to show separate collections had been properly evaluated and that conditions for material sorting quality had been set for commingling.

He added:

“They should not forget their separate duties under the waste hierarchy which is now included in the regulations and is another reason why they need to know what happens to their material after collection. This may also affect material sent for EfW. Incinerators which do not achieve R1 status count as disposal and not recovery and are lower down the hierarchy.”

Whilst allowing commingling to continue, Defra has failed to publish a consultation on the MRF code of practice and quality action plan, this is a vital plank of the governments’ strategy to increase recyclate quality.

This consultation was expected to be published in August however; it was delayed until September to include other Defra measures.

The consultation follows months of discussions between interested parties, with opposing groups reluctant to give up ground to the others.

Recyclers and reprocessors want tighter regulations of quality standards and it is said that MRF operators and waste management firms are focussing on maximum recycling and market transparency.

A Defra spokeswoman said she was unable to give a date for the consultation launch at this stage.

The amended Regulations

The amended Regulations relate to the separate collection of waste.

  • They amend the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 by replacing regulation 13 to separately collect waste paper, metal, plastic and glass from January 2015.
  • It also imposes a duty on waste collection authorities, when making arrangements for the collection of such waste, to ensure that those arrangements are by way of separate collection.
  • These duties apply where separate collection is “necessary” to ensure that waste undergoes recovery operations in accordance with the Directive and to facilitate or improve recovery; and where it is “technically, environmentally and economically practicable”.
  • The duties apply to waste classified as waste from households and waste that is classified as commercial or industrial waste.
  • The amended Regulations also replaced regulation 14(2) to reflect the changes to regulation 13 to ensure a consistent approach.  Consequential changes are also made to reflect changes in paragraph numbering in the new regulation 13

References:

New Amendment

R1 status

MRW

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