Defra has told industry stakeholders it is working under the assumption that the European Commission’s circular economy (CE) package will apply to the UK.
The department shared its views on key elements of the EU proposals, including municipal and packaging waste recycling targets and extended producer responsibility (EPR), at a meeting in London on 19 January.
MRW understands that Defra shared its concern about the Maltese Presidency’s push for lower aluminium packaging recycling targets.
This measure is believed to have been introduced following concerns that some member states may have difficulty recycling the material, but the policy change is not expected to be backed by most other countries.
Regarding EPR, Defra reaffirmed its preference for ’guidance only’ measures from the EU, a position set out by resource minster Therese Coffey in Brussels in December.
This approach is supported by packaging producers, but industry figures believe some regulatory change is needed.
As to whether the CE package will apply to the UK, there will be a tight timetable between the proposals’ transposition into UK law and the country’s exit from the EU.
Brexit is expected to be finalised in 2019, two years after the triggering of Article 50, while there is also a two-year limit for the CE package to be transposed into member states’ laws after it has been agreed, expected later this year.
Questions remain over how the Great Repeal Bill will affect the package if it has not been fully transposed into UK law at the point of exit.
MRW understands Defra agrees with many measures in the CE package and is working under the assumption that it will apply to the UK.