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Waste industry misunderstands Defras definition of separate collections

Many waste industry stakeholders have misunderstood the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs definition of separate collections for materials in relation to Article 11 of the revised Waste Framework Directive, according to Defra.


Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government have recently published a summary of responses to a Consultation on the Transposition of the revised Waste Framework Directive (March 2010). According to Article 11 of the revised WFD, Member States should set up separate collections by 2015 for the at least the following:  paper, metal, plastic and glass.


The Government asked stakeholders a series of questions relating to the transposition of the revised WFD and one question asked Do you agree with the proposed approach to implementing the requirements of Article 11(1) on separate collections?


Defra states that many responses appeared to answer the question but were starting from an erroneous position.


The response consultation explained: A large number of responses to this question appeared to assume that Defras proposed approach to meeting the separate collection requirements required a stronger focus on source-segregated collections, alongside a desire to phase out commingled collections over a long period of time.

However, Defra has stated that it considers both source-segregated and commingled collection systems to be capable of contributing to the requirement for separate collections.


More than 46% of respondents either did not state their position clearly, or did not answer the question at all. For example, Defra states that Leeds City Council did not give an opinion about Defras proposed approach but stated: Allowing the commingled collectionto continue after 2015 infers that at some point after this date this will not be allowed.


It also states that a statement from the Waste & Resources Action Programme was also vague. The statement from WRAP explained: WRAP has published its view that avoiding mixing wastes unnecessarily prior to collection is often the more economic way to ensure high quality materials for recycling.


Of the respondents who understood Defras position of separate collections as intended, the majority fully supported Defras approach of achieving separate collections through both commingled and source-segregated collections, although around a fifth of respondents also had some concerns.


Other key summary responses include the following:

·         Almost half of respondents disagreed that the UK is self-sufficient in installations for the recovery of mixed municipal waste from private households;

·         There is current uncertainty over whether anaerobic digestion will count as recycling under the revised WFD;

·         There is concern over the need to develop significant infrastructure and uncertainty whether this can be achieved due to planning and resourcing constraints;

·         The new waste hierarchy which lies at the centre of the revised WFD should be applied retrospectively, to facilities that already have planning and permitting permission; and

·         Waste streams deemed hard to recycle such as plastic should be considered for future producer responsibility schemes.

Article 11 of revised WFD:
Article 11 of revised Waste Framework Directive
Member States shall take measures to promote high quality recycling and, to this end, shall set up separate collections of waste where technically, environmentally and economically practicable and appropriate to meet the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors."

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