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Collections JR Europe decision delayed

The judge in the commingling judicial review (JR) has deferred a decision on whether to send the case to Europe.

The claimants, the Campaign for Real Recycling, want judges at the European Court of Justice to rule on the UK and Welsh governments’ interpretation of the EU rules on separate collections.

The case is due at the High Court in Cardiff on 26-28 February. The judge will make a decision on CRR’s application to go to Europe then.

Mal Williams, chair of CRR, said: “We still think that there are reasonable grounds why this case will be referred to the European Court of Justice. Today’s decision postpones adjudication of this issue by a few weeks until the start of the substantial hearing at the end of February.

“The Claimants in this case remain committed to high quality recycling and to resolving this case at the High Court in Cardiff, via reference to the CJEU if required, as we believe is likely.”

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

While waste management firms and local authorities welcomed the amendment that will effectively allow commingling, opponents have said it is not good enough.

CRR coordinator Andy Moore has said the amendment was “still not an adequate transposition of the revised Waste Framework Directive”.

Readers' comments (3)

  • I appreciate the need for material quality, but kerbside separated collections are now very much in a minority, with more LAs changing to co-mingled collections in 2013. Across the UK, 100 authorities (25%) operate 2-stream collections, 174 authorities (43%) operate single stream collections, with 128 authorities (32%) operating a kerbside separated, or predominantly kerbside separated, service.

    Have the claimants for the Campaign for Real Recycling really thought about the effect, were they to win, that changing to kerbside separated schemes would have on the UK recycling industry? For a start, 274 LAs, covering over 19 million households, would need to purchase new containers for dry recyclables, external contracts would need to be renegotiated, MRFs would be out of business, bulking/transfer stations would need to be built, and so the list goes on. Apart from the cost and length of time it would take to implement the changes, the UK’s recycling rate would plummet. One only has to look at the league tables to see that the high recycling authorities provide co-mingled collections.

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  • Jennie makes a fair point about the impact which a decision to outlaw co-mingled collections would have, if an attempt was made to change in one go. That is why the Directive allowed such a long lead in time before 2015 - it's sad that we managed to squander that.

    My view is that there is room to compromise, to massively improve quality while retaining co-mingling, especially in the two stream version. But the long overdue quality plan and MRF code of practice, needs to appear and be credible. What possible explanation can there be for the continuing absence of these proposals?

    I am still unconvinced by the argument that co-mingling leads to increased recycling. Analysis of wastedataflow by Resource Futures, published by WRAP did identify that the effective container volume provided for recycling affected the amount of material collected, but there are a number of ways to provide that effective volume not just by a 240L wheeled bin.

    We can't go on ignoring the costs to the reprocessors of substandard collections, if we want them to make further investments in capacity. The closure of the former SCA MRF by DS Smith - is one sign of how poor quality from collections can undermine the economics of recycling.

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  • Jennie

    I managed LA collections in a past life (indeed we often spoke at the time, to mutual benefit) and I'm personally fully supportive of councils and the conflicting budgetary priorities they currently face.

    But surely weight-based league tables and the like should be considered old hat; that more councils co-mingle than not doesn't necessarily justify its fundamental existence, nor its further proliferation simply on the basis that WDF end-of-year validation somehow satiates resident satisfaction via the inevitable surveys - "we're still on track", "we've doubled", "we've halved", etc - that's how it rolls to a certain extent, after all - regardless of the needs of the wider supply chain.

    Councils would be canny to look at the future benefits that maximising long-term material quality can bring them in terms of revenue benefit, carbon offsetting, lower price volatility, lower supply chain risks, potential wider employment benefits and reduced pressure from external drivers.

    Regardless of the Judicial Review outcome I'm convinced that budgetary forecasting will be the primary benefit to councils of entering into 7-10 year MRF contracts, which is fundamnentally wrong (but not necessarily their sole fault).

    Surely you cannot argue against CRR's right to make its case? It's either ultimately upheld or not (well, eventually one would hope...) on the basis of myriad factors and eventualities throughout the entire supply chain, and hopefully on the basis of long-term 'circular economy' principles, not just the perceived needs of councils.

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