Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of MRW, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

UK and Welsh Governments win collections judicial review

Recycling campaigners are considering an appeal after a judge has dismissed their judicial review (JR) claim seeking restrictions on commingled recycling collections.

The claimants, members of the Campaign for Real Recycling (CRR), had argued Defra and the Welsh Government had not properly transposed the European revised Waste Directive Framework (rWFD) in the Waste Regulations (England and Wales), in particular, rules on when commingled collections should be allowed.

They argued commingled collections do not produce high quality recyclate.

The judge, Mr Justice Hickinbottom, found the Governments had properly interpreted European law and that the obligation to set up separate collection of paper, metal, plastic and glass from 2015 applies only where it is necessary to ensure waste undergoes recovery operations and to facilitate and improve recovery and is also technically, environmentally and economically practicable.    

But CRR chair, Mal Williams, said the group maintained that the current regulations fail to sufficiently facilitate or specify separation of materials. He said he was extremely disapointed by the verdict which was a “judgement against material quality and progress towards a recycling society”.

Williams added: “The claimants are currently in discussion with their legal advisors and are considering an appeal against the judgement”.

ESA’s director general, Barry Dennis said: “The ESA has always believed that both the Directive and the revised Defra regulations recognise that decisions over local collection methods are complex and that local discretion over the format of recycling collections is needed to ensure that the Directive’s objectives are met. We are therefore pleased that the Judge, having examined the matter in great depth, has taken the same view.  

“ESA members can now get on with the challenge of working with their local authority customers to select the most appropriate collection system locally. This is vital if we are to continue to make significant increases in recycling rates, so that as much of our waste as possible is returned to productive use.”

Responding on Twitter, CEO of the Chartered Institition of Wastes Management, Steve Lee, said the ruling meant commingled collections do satisfy the requirements of the rWFD.

Defra’s director of waste, Colin Church said: “So separate collection remains default, except where not necessary or not technically, economically or environmentally practicable.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “This ruling shows our interpretation of the revised Waste Framework Directive is right. It recognises that it’s for local authorities to decide, within the law, whether separate recycling collections are necessary and practicable. We will continue to work with local authorities, the waste industry and other partners to provide waste services that meet the needs of local communities and improve the quality of recycling,”

Mike Jones, chair of the Local Government Association’s environment board said he was delighted by the verdict and called for the sector to draw a line under the row.

The legal action brought by CRR did force the UK and Welsh Governments to revise the regulations last year to require separate collections only where technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP) and necessary to meet the required standards of reprocessors.

But 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.”    

The judge also dismissed an application by the claimants to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The claimants in the JR were: UK Recyclate, Smurfit Kappa, Palm Recycling, D S Smith Paper, Novelis UK, Plastics Sorting, Ardagh Glass.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.