Local authority recycling officers have supported industry calls for specific guidance on recycling collections to clarify what will be legally acceptable after the amended Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 come into force.
From 1 January 2015, waste collection authorities must collect waste paper, metal, plastic and glass separately, unless they can demonstrate it is not technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP).
Former resource minister Lord de Mauley recently wrote to councils to explain what will be expected of them on terms of separate and commingled collections.
In response, Joy Blizzard, chair of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC), said: “The letter has had a sobering effect, reminding councils of their obligations, and that in all probability a considerable amount of legal disputation might result from a local authority’s choice of recycling system.”
However, she added that local authoroties “desperately needed” TEEP guidance as soon as possible.
Blizzard said that local authorities relying on Materials Recycling Facilities (MRFs) also needed assurance that the facilities will be able to produce high enough quality recyclate.
She said: “a lot of heat and not much light has come from some rather entrenched views across the recycling chain, but I would like to see some of that energy and innovation going into solving a larger issue - which is ensuring that recycling schemes continue to deliver material fit for reprocessing, green jobs and play their part in reducing climate change.”
The Resource Association, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management and the Environmental Services Association have all made calls for early TEEP guidance to help councils avoid legal challenges.