So, guidance from Defra on TEEP (technically, economically and environmentally practicable) collections of household waste in England will not be forthcoming after all.
After an extended wait, the industry has been told that further departmental interpretation of the Waste Framework Directive is considered unnecessary.
Defra may feel that councils have all the information they need. But the reactions reported by Tom Kenning show that the situation remains confusing and uncertain. They include the suggestion that Whitehall brainpower was, in fact, exercised on draft guidance but was not pursued. The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management is still hoping to persuade Defra that councils really do need such guidance.
An absence of central dictat leaves the way open for council policies being moulded by court action and case law. Local authorities and/or waste management firms could potentially be in the firing line of campaigners opposing commingled collections.
Lord De Mauley’s ‘farewell letter’ last October advising councils “to consult their own lawyers as necessary…given the potential for legal challenge” was, in effect, an admission of a policy vacuum and a recognition of potential dangers ahead. If such dangers are realised, then plenty of people will be entitled to say “we told you so”.
Moving to another ministerial intervention, MRW has taken a lead from communities secretary Eric Pickles and considered our own list of myths about the waste sector. Chiara Francavilla has curated a range of interesting responses.
l In last week’s issue, the headline of an article on page 9 incorrectly named the two partners in a big new deal to recycle plastics. The article itself, and an earlier report online, correctly identified the partners as Viridor and Eco Plastics. We are sorry for any difficulty this may have caused.