Defra has indicated it has no plans to publish guidance for councils seeking to carry on with commingled collections after the EU Waste Framework Directive comes into force next year.
From 1 January 2015, waste collectors must collect paper, glass, metal and plastic by separate collection in order to comply with the Directive. This is unless it is not technically, economically and environmentally practicable (TEEP) to do so.
A number of local authorities are already attempting to justify their move to commingled collections, despite fears they may face legal challenges if they fall foul of EU law.
Colin Church, director for resource and waste at Defra, indicated the news in a tweet last Friday (17 January).
Initially he announced that a legal challenge by two councils over a Defra decision to withdraw funding for the Allerton Park energy-from-waste plant had been dropped.
Then in response to a tweet from Meditiative Dustman he confirmed there would be no TEEP guidance:
@MeditativeDustWe don’t plan to publish further Government guidance on TEEP in England.
— Colin Church (@DrColinChurch) January 17, 2014
When asked about the reasoning behind the decision a Defra spokesperson said: “Local Authorities should be aware of the requirements relating to collection of dry recycling material. We do not believe there is a need to issue further guidance.”
Steve Lee (left), chief executive at the Chartered Institution for Wastes Management (CIWM) said: “With less than a year to go before the requirements of the Waste Framework Directive for the separate collection of recycled materials come into force, CIWM is very concerned that our industry is being left in confusion about TEEP.”
“We have important terms in the Waste Framework Directive that have not been adequately defined as part of the transposition into national legislation. We have government departments issuing seemingly conflicting views – in the form of Lord de Mauley’s letter last autumn and DCLG’s recent ‘Bin Bible’ – about what the outcome of the Judicial Review means for local authority collections in England and Wales.
“And we have the possibility that other UK countries will produce TEEP guidance while English councils remain in the dark. CIWM will be calling for a more responsible approach from Defra and will be working to ensure that councils are supported with adequate guidance on this important issue.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are considering the needs of those that will be affected by the regulations, including waste producers, collectors, managers, Natural Resources Wales and local authorities. We are considering whether to issue guidance and will make an announcement as soon as possible.”
In response to Church’s twitter announcement, Ray Georgeson (left), chief executive of the Resource Association, said: “Given the amount of time and effort we know Defra officials had put into developing a draft TEEP guidance document and the expectation generated especially within local government, I think the onus has to be on Defra to say a little more about why this is not being released than can be covered in 140 characters.
“At the moment it leaves Lord de Mauley’s letter to councils issued just before his departure from the resources brief as the best available signal. As Defra said at the time, this means that separate collection is the default position requiring councils to demonstrate clearly if they believe this not to be TEEP in their situation.”
Barry Dennis, Environmental Services Association director general, told MRW: “Defra’s decision not to provide local authorities with further guidance on TEEP is regrettable, as it leaves local authorities to grapple with the issue on their own and may add to the uncertainties they face in renewing waste collection contracts in the coming months.
“At the least, it would have been helpful if Defra had brought together in one place the various pointers that could assist councils – namely the relevant parts of the Waste Framework Directive, the Commission’s Guidance, the England & Wales implementing regulations, and the Judicial Review judgment.”
- This month MRW reported that some councils had approached East Cambridgeshire District Council over a document it released in order to vindicate its move to a commingled collection service under the TEEP guidelines.