What happens next? I suspect there will be a third set of regulations which are, at last, a straight transposition of the Directive. Defra will back these up with guidance setting out when separate collections can be seen as not Technically, Environmentally or Economically Practicable (TEEP) or when they may not be necessary to meet the requirements of the recycling sector.
They will be waiting until they see the final version of the Commission’s own guidance, due shortly.
Defra must be hoping that this will broaden the loophole in the earlier draft which suggested that commingled collections may be acceptable if they produce material of an equivalent quality to separate collections. The Commission originally saw this as a very narrow concession.
But it explains why ministers are looking seriously at a mandatory MRF standard and other measures around waste exports to back up the claims of equivalence. But they are some way from being ready with those.
This feels like swimming against the tide. It will leave individual local authorities and waste companies open to legal challenge for their interpretation of the guidance. And it means further delay and uncertainty. What was originally a seven-year transition is now likely to be two years or less.