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Defra fails to appease collection opponents   

Defra’s hopes of resolving the legal battle surrounding recycling collection methods by amending the waste regulations have been dashed as campaigners vowed to pursue their Judicial Review.

Andy Moore, of the Campaign for Real Recycling which began a legal challenge against ministers last year, said the fresh amendments laid before Parliament were inadequate and the group would press ahead with legal action.

A statement by Moore on behalf of the claimants said: “On 13 July, the claimants seeking judicial review of the Waste Regulations (England & Wales) 2011 instructed their solicitors to write to the Government to inform them that, in the claimants’ view, the proposed amendment is still not an adequate transposition of the revised Waste Framework Directive.

“At this stage the claimants expect there is a need for the issue to be formally resolved through the court process.”

It also said the claimants remained “keen to engage with Defra and the Welsh Government in discussion as to how to interpret the revised Waste Framework Directive”.

The statement followed Defra laying amended regulations before Parliament which, if approved, would come into force from October.

They require councils to have separate collections for paper, plastic, metal and glass by 2015 unless they meet conditions for a commingled collection.    

The move amends the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 by replacing regulation 13.

For more on the details click here for Defra sets out crucial collection regulations

More reaction

Waste expert and former civil servant and Wrap chief Phillip Ward said was not surprised the CRR were pressing ahead with their legal challenge.

He said: “This is Defra’s third attempt to transpose the regulations.

“They are having difficulty because they want to preserve commingled collections as a main stream option when the Directive is pretty clear that separate collections should be set up except where they are not technically environmentally or economically practicable or they could not meet the waste hierarchy or would damage human health or the environment.

“But the wording of the regulations seems to turn that on its head requiring separate collections only where they are necessary to achieve the waste hierarchy.”

“It certainly won’t if the MRF Code of Practice is not rigorous on quality and if it is not effectively enforced.”

Resource Association chief executive Ray Georgeson said: “Given that this issue has been subject to Judicial Review and that the Amendments have been laid before parliament and the National Assembly for Wales during a period of recess we would welcome proper Parliamentary scrutiny of what remains for many a contentious issue.”

He added: “It remains critically important that Defra’s plans for the MRF Code of Practice and its Quality Action Plan demonstrate convincingly that the spirit of the guidance from the European Commission is maintained, namely that where commingled collection of recyclables is still deemed to be a preferred method of collection that the consequent sorting and processing of materials reaches source separation equivalence in order to satisfy the requirements of the Directive.”

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) said the new regulations were workable and appeared to be consistent with recent guidance from the European Commission on separate and commingled collection.

ESA director of policy, Matthew Farrow, said: “We very much hope that these regulations will be approved by Parliament and by the Welsh Assembly, so that local authorities and waste management companies can get on with the important job of providing waste and recycling collection services which meet the wishes of local communities while respecting the Directive’s requirements.”

The amended Regulations in detail

  • The amended Regulations relate to the separate collection of waste. 
  • They amend the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 by replacing regulation 13 to separately collect waste paper, metal, plastic and glass from January 2015. 
  • It also imposes a duty on waste collection authorities, when making arrangements for the collection of such waste, to ensure that those arrangements are by way of separate collection. 
  • These duties apply where separate collection is “necessary” to ensure that waste undergoes recovery operations in accordance with the Directive and to facilitate or improve recovery; and where it is “technically, environmentally and economically practicable”. 
  • The duties apply to waste classified as waste from households and waste that is classified as commercial or industrial waste. 
  • The amended Regulations also replaced regulation 14(2) to reflect the changes to regulation 13 to ensure a consistent approach.  Consequential changes are also made to reflect changes in paragraph numbering in the new regulation 13.


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