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England may experience “perverse outcomes” from Welsh landfill ban

A proposed ban on sending certain waste streams to landfill in Wales could lead to “perverse outcomes” for English landfill sites, the Environment Agency has warned.

The draft Waste (Wales) Measure Bill, which is currently in the committee session, could ban recyclable waste streams, such as glass, metals, plastics and wood from landfill in Wales unilaterally.

Without similar bans in the UK, there is concern that the discrepancy in legislation might encourage companies to move waste across the border and into English landfill sites, instead of recycling.

Environment Agency strategic environmental planning manager Joanne Sherwood told the Welsh Assembly: “Some of the proposals could have unintended consequences if other interventions are not put in place at the same time.

“There needs to be advice and guidance, and infrastructure in place to accommodate the materials ban from landfill, otherwise there could be some perverse outcomes, like materials going to England or being fly-tipped, which would not be the intention.”

Interventions proposed by the Environment Agency, in written evidence, include sorting requirements for producers, stimulating provision of recycling services for businesses and improving markets for quality recyclates.

Environment Agency Wales strategy and policy manager Nadia De Longhi said: “There’s little reference at this point to cross border issues. We would expect the consultation on subsequent regulations to contain more detailed consideration, particularly of any potential negative impacts on organisations that operate between the two countries and how it can be managed.”

There has also been concern raised over whether Wales has the necessary recycling infrastructure to cope with a landfill ban.

Co-op commercial packaging manager Iain Ferguson told the Assembly: “All the mixed plastics recycling facilities are in England, there’s one in Manchester and there’s one being built in Birmingham, and I’ve got no knowledge of any being built in Wales. And even if they were, they tend to be built near large centres of population, so you’ve got vast areas in the middle where it’d probably be more economical to send the material into England, into Birmingham to be dealt with.”

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