Government publishes Statutory Instrument for Simpler Recycling

Houses of ParliamentThe UK Government has today (16 May) published the Environment Act 2021 (Commencement No. 9 and Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2024, which establishes the legislation to simplify and standardise recycling practices across England. This Statutory Instrument brings into force several provisions of the Environment Act 2021, focusing on waste separation and collection requirements for both domestic and non-domestic premises.

The new regulations, which amend the Environmental Protection Act 1990, mandate that from 31 March 2026 waste collection authorities in England must arrange for the separate collection of recyclable household waste from domestic premises. The materials that must be collected separately include glass, metal, plastic, paper and card, food waste, and garden waste. This requirement is subject to conditions such as technical, environmental, and economic practicability (TEEP) and the necessity to ensure high-quality recycling or composting.

Similar rules apply to operators collecting these materials from non-domestic premises, likely to represent a significant uplift in the quantity of materials sent for recycling in England. This echoes the requirements already in place in both Scotland and Wales for businesses and other organisations to collect these materials separately.

To facilitate the collection of recyclable waste, the Statutory Instrument empowers waste collection authorities to require the use of specific receptacles for different waste streams. While the regulations do not prescribe particular types of receptacles, authorities can specify the kind and number of containers to be used for the separate collection of recyclable household waste from domestic and non-domestic premises.

The legislation also introduces transitional arrangements to provide flexibility and additional time for certain waste collection authorities to adapt to the new requirements. These arrangements take into account factors such as existing long-term waste disposal contracts and the need for infrastructure and operational changes.

From 31st March 2026, English waste collection authorities are required to meet the new conditions for separate collection of recyclable household waste from domestic premises.

Furthermore, the Statutory Instrument includes a Schedule that provides extended transitional periods for specific English waste collection authorities. These periods vary for each authority, with some lasting until 2043. The specific local authorities and their associated transitional dates are as follows:

- Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council: 1 June 2026
- London Borough of Tower Hamlets: 1 April 2027
- Wiltshire Council: 1 August 2027
- Ashfield District Council, Bassetlaw District Council, Broxtowe Borough Council, Gedling Borough Council, Mansfield District Council, Newark and Sherwood District Council, Rushcliffe Borough Council: 1 October 2027
- The Council of the Borough of Kirklees: 2 April 2028
- Nottingham City Council: 1 July 2030
- Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council, Bury Metropolitan Borough Council, Manchester City Council, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, Rochdale Borough Council, Salford City Council: 1 April 2034
- Cumberland Council, Westmorland and Furness Council: 4 June 2034
- The Council of the City of Wakefield: 25 February 2038
- Sheffield City Council: 1 August 2038
- The Borough Council of Gateshead, The Council of the Borough of South Tyneside, The Council of the City of Sunderland: 1 April 2039
- Wigan Borough Council: 1 April 2040
- Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, City of Doncaster Council, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council: 1 July 2040
- City of York Council, The North Yorkshire Council: 1 February 2043

During these extended periods, the specified authorities are not required to meet certain conditions, such as the separate collection of food waste or the collection of recyclable waste separately from other household waste, subject to specific circumstances.

The legislation is expected to go before the Houses of Parliament in the autumn for ratification.