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Legal review of waste directive interpretation put back

The judicial review into interpretations of the Waste Framework Directive and the implications for mixed household collections has been put back six months while Defra and the Welsh Government reconsider their position.

The High Court in Cardiff has agreed that proceedings brought by members of the Campaign for Real Recycling (CRR) and due to be heard on 13 December will be stayed until 13 June next year.

CRR claimed the defendants had reconsidered the wording of Regulation 13 of the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 and decided that it needed amendment.

Defra’s interpretation of the directive had allowed councils to carry on with mixed collections, but CRR claimed the use of commingling was “contrary to the wording and the spirit of the WFD”.

A Defra spokesman said: “We’ve agreed to review and amend the relevant waste legislation and as a result the court agreed there would be no purpose served by proceeding with the hearing next week. In reviewing the legislation we want councils to be able to work with their residents on delivering the types of collections they want, while making sure good quality recycling is collected.” 

CRR chair Mal Williams, top, said: “This adjournment was not our choice in taking the review forward. We would have preferred simply to have the contradictory paragraph 13(2) removed from the regulations by the judge. This matter could have been settled by Christmas.

“Alongside material quality improvement, our other objective in bringing the review was to achieve greater clarity for all stakeholders. That it is not complete will cause more uncertainty for local authorities, contractors and commercial customers.”

Williams anticipated the proximity of the date of the new hearing to Parliamentary and Welsh Government recesses could further delay the review.

“We don’t know how or whom Defra intends to consult in the redrafting,” he added. “We do expect Defra to approach the issue of redrafting the regulations with a long-term view, working with the whole UK supply chain, starting with the UK reprocessing companies that buy the collected materials and that brought this judicial review, to maximise value from recyclable materials.”  

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