Traditionally a slow news month, and developments on waste policy were even quieter as we all took stock of the referendum vote. It had done nothing to help business uncertainty or the weak markets for secondary commodities – and that was obvious from contemporary news reports on the MRW website.
Plastics recyclers continued to struggle, with administrators taking over at PlasRecycle in south-east London and the CK Group in Lincolnshire.
The news that Interserve would complete its six existing EfW contracts but then withdraw from the sector emphasised the fragile nature of the industry because this had been a core growth area in recent years.
There were brighter spots, with expansion plans announced at Reconomy and WSR Recycling among others. Veolia after the Brexit vote said it expected to invest £750m and create around 600 jobs in the UK and the Republic of Ireland during the next five years.
Two legal cases were noteworthy. Max Recycle from Durham challenged a ruling from HM Revenue & Customs in 2011 that council trade waste collections are exempt from VAT. The company argued that this gave councils an unfair commercial advantage but, ultimately, it failed to persuade the judge.
The other was a ruling over the former Wormtech company in Wales on the personal liability of directors when their business incurs clean-up costs in crime cases. A judge ruled that directors were responsible for their personal liability but not their company’s.
WRAP produced two market flow reports this month which showed that more paper, card and wood packaging had been placed on the UK market than previously estimated, thereby overstating current recycling rates – although the targets should still be hit.
One short-notice policy announcement that caused those involved in renewable energy to cry foul (again) was the withdrawal of support for biomass combined heat and power plants that use less than 20% of their fuel for electricity production.
Defra was adjusting to its new politicians at the helm, including Coffey, who made her debut in the resource management brief by enjoying extensive media coverage of the successful impact of the 5p charge for single-use plastic carrier bags in England.