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Defra consults on barriers to reuse

Defra has launched a consultation and will set up a working group on removing legislative barriers to reuse.

The department is seeking feedback on a document clarifying the application of the definition of waste to reuse and repair activities.

The paper sets out the current definition of waste and the difference between reuse and preparing for reuse (see box below).

Defra has asked organisations involved in the sector to comment on the paper. It also seeks specific examples on their experience of where the definition of waste has acted as a barrier and suggestions for changes that might support the growth of the industry.

The consultation closes on 30 January.

Defra also said it will constitute a working group in winter 2014-15. This will comprise representatives of enforcement agencies, the reuse and repair sector and the devolved administrations.

“Through this working group, [we will] examine the issues covered by this paper with a view to developing an action plan, and develop trial approaches in different sectors to help remove barriers to reuse and repair brought about through the current application of the definition of waste,” said Defra.

The initiative follows the responses the department collected as part of a call for evidence launched before the release of the Waste Prevention Programme in December 2013.

The responses indicated that in a number of sectors, such as construction, farming, and energy, the definition of waste has proved to be challenging when carrying out reuse and repair activities.

Craig Anderson, chief executive at Furniture Re-use Network (FRN), said his organisation welcomed the initiative.

However, he said the review should focus on the interpretation of the regulations rather on their amendments.

“The reuse sector that FRN represents has already jumped what we term the ‘hurdles’ of the waste regulations and the sector complies with them. Interpretation is critical - not the change of regulatory requirements or definitions because they are perceived as ‘barriers’.

“If you change the definition you may open up the reuse market to a sham reusers and the illegal trade in what used to be waste.”


  • Waste is “any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard”.
  • ‘Reuse’ indicates any operation by which products or components that are not waste are used again for the same purpose for which they were conceived
  • ‘Preparing for reuse’ means checking, cleaning or repairing recovery operations, by which products or components of products that have become waste are prepared so that they can be reused without any other pre-processing.

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