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Commingled inclusion appears legally reasonable, waste expert claims

The inclusion of commingled waste collections in the UK transposition of the revised Waste Framework Directive (WFD) appears legally “reasonable” according to a solicitor specialising in waste and environmental law.

Commercial law firm Aaron & Partners LLP associate Claire Petricca-Riding said: “If there is to be a challenge against the decision by Defra to allow commingling, the decision needs to be unreasonable and given the time taken to address the concerns raised it seems reasonable for Defra to allow commingling of certain waste types in the regulations as a way of transposing the Revised Waste Framework Directive.”

Petricca-Riding used the example of the updated regulations, which were laid before Parliament in February, and sought to address the representations made to the original stage two consultation in July 2010.

The updated regulations stated: “An establishment or undertaking which collects waste paper, metal, plastic or glass must, from 1 January 2015, take all such measures to ensure separate collection of that waste as are available to the establishment or undertaking in that capacity and are:
a)       technically, environmentally and economically practicable; and
b)       appropriate to meet the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors.”

The regulation added: “For the avoidance of doubt, commingled collection (being the collection together with each other but separately from other waste of waste streams intended for recycling with a view to subsequent separation by type and nature) is a form of separate collection.”

Further clarity was given in an open letter from Defra “which confirms that this seeks to address the previous regulation 12 and tries to add clarity to the situation.”  
Petricca-Riding said: “It needs to be borne in mind however, that commingled collection in accordance with regulation 13 needs to meet the requirements of the waste hierarchy.
 “In my opinion it does.  The technology is available to treat commingled collection of waste and as long as it is technically, environmentally and economically practicable it will continue to be used. It’s a fact that commingled waste collections already exist in some local authorities. Commingled waste collection is seen by many as a practicable solution.”

However, she warned that the Campaign for Real Recycling’s intention to challenge Defra was also based on the 2010 regulations, and not the revised regulations which were laid before Parliament in February.

She said: “CRR needs to obtain cogent legal advice on the new regulations as opposed to relying on the previous regulations.”

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