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Sector prepares for collections hearing

The claimants in the Judicial Review (JR) of the Waste Regulations (England and Wales) starting on Monday (25 February) have said they are looking forward to the resolution of the row.

Campaign for Real Recycling (CRR) chair Mal Williams said the hearing, which begins at the High Court in Cardiff on Monday, represented an opportunity to clarify what constitutes separate collection and high quality recycling.

“It will enable UK reprocessing industry and councils to move forward, confident that we are compliant with the Directive, maximising value from discarded materials and thereby working toward the recycling society that the Directive envisages.”

CRR members initiated the JR in 2011 to challenge the Governments’ interpretation and transposition of the European revised Waste Directive Framework (rWFD), in particular when commingled collections can be allowed.

The case was halted in December 2011 and the Governments agreed to revise the regulations last year to require separate collections where technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP) and necessary to meet the required standards of reprocessors.

Clarity on collections

But the CRR rejected that revision as an inadequate transposition of the EU law which demands: “measures to promote high quality recycling” and “separate collections of waste where technically, environmentally and economically practicable and appropriate to meet the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors.”  

Hilary Harrison, partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors, representing UK Recyclate, one of the claimants, said she hoped the conclusion of the case would bring clarity for councils and reprocessors.

“Closer adherence to EU legislation will greatly improve the quality of material able to be recycled and drastically reduce the current level of materials that end up in landfills”, she added.

Waste firm Biffa has warned that millions of pounds could be wasted and recycling rates hit if councils are forced to switch to kerbside sort.

Immediate switch ‘unlikely’

But former Defra official and WRAP local Government chief Phillip Ward said a ruling in favour of the CRR would be unlikely to result in councils being forced to switch systems immediately.

“The government would have to go back and work out a new transposition of the directive and there would have to be discussions with the CRR and others around what is technically, environmentally and economically practicable, and solution that everyone can live with,” he said.

“It could be that local authorities would be asked to consider kerb-side collections for new tenders but no-one is expecting a handbrake turn. It’s dragged on for so long that I think an agreement could be found.”

He said Government should do more to listen to reprocessors and go further to address concerns about the quality.

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