Defra lays new waste regulations in parliament today on separate collections of dry recyclables

Defra has laid new legislation before Parliament today (19 July) amending the Waste Regulations (England and Wales) 2011, Resource has learned.

The changes, which are the second attempt of drafting the government’s Waste Regulations amendment, are slated to come into force on 1 October 2012, with the aim of aligning the UK’s Waste Regulations with the European Commission’s (EC) revised Waste Framework Directive (rWFD) on the collection of dry recyclables. If accepted, the regulations would oblige local authorities to switch to separate dry recyclable collections. 

This comes as part on an ongoing and protracted Judicial Review between Defra, the Welsh Government and the Campaign for Real Recycling (CRR), which was first announced in 2010 after the CRR said that the UK and Welsh government’s permission of co-mingled collection systems could “permanently undermine the environmental and financial benefits of recycling” and argued that the government’s interpretation of the rWFD was “contrary to both the wording and spirit of the rWFD and therefore not a transposition of it”.

A spokesperson from Defra today told Resource that new regulations have now been written and submitted: “The new regulations specifically say that separate collection of dry recyclables by 2015 is going to be the basic requirement, but maintain what the EC directive says, that co-mingled collections are acceptable as long as separate collections are not technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP) and as long as the right quality of recyclates are achieved.

“The changes to Waste Regulations closely align with the wording of the Waste Framework Directive, while maintaining the flexibility local authorities need to adopt the collection service that delivers the best outcome for them and their residents.

“We believe that this amendment meets the requirements of the directive and is robust to further legal challenge. We hope this will allow us to draw a line under the current legal process, and work more constructively with all parts of the recycling supply chain to deliver more and better quality recycling.”

When asked if Defra will be publishing guidelines for local authorities regarding what qualifies as being TEEP, the spokesperson said it is something they are ‘working’ on.

This newest development in the Judicial Review process will come as welcome news to many, as the European Commission’s target of having separate collections for dry recyclables by 2015 is drawing ever closer.

Indeed, it has already been welcomed by the Environmental Services Association; ESA’s Director of Policy, Matthew Farrow, who said: “In our view the new regulations are workable on the ground and appear to be consistent with recent guidance from the European Commission on separate and co-mingled collection. We very much hope that these regulations will be approved by Parliament and by the Welsh Assembly [sic], so that local authorities and waste management companies can get on with the important job of providing waste and recycling collection services which meet the wishes of local communities while respecting the directive’s requirements.”