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Review of 2017 - January

The first household recycling figures to show a decline were digested across the industry this month. 

After plateauing in 2016, this trend was hardly unexpected and Defra said it would “spread best practice” to boost rates. It added that “the slight dip” in recycling rates showed “more needed to be done”. 

In the week it won an award at the World Economic Forum for its circular economy (CE) strategy, the Scottish Government proposed a simplification of environmental regulations and a restructuring of the regulatory authority. The Welsh, meanwhile, considered following England with fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping.

The role of extended producer responsibility (EPR) was in the limelight. MRW reported on a meeting in Brussels at which Defra minister Therese Coffey insisted EPR policy in the forthcoming CE proposals should be “guidance only”. She said: “We believe [the EU] should recognise there are multiple valid approaches to achieving EPR. Market-based schemes like the ones in the UK should be allowed to continue and with a real emphasis on outcomes.”

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) called for a regulatory approach while the Green Alliance said EPR was key to higher recycling levels.

WRAP reported on waste prevention in the hospitality sector and household food waste. The good news was that caterers and others hit their collective prevention target but, on the other hand, fell well short on efforts to increase the overall rate for recycling and material sent to anaerobic digestion or for composting. 

The combined impact of austerity budgets and weak commodity markets was evident as Sheffield City Council told Veolia it was ripping up its 35-year PFI contract before it was halfway through and Manchester Waste Partnership – the biggest in the UK – served notice on Viridor that its existing waste contract needed to be reviewed.

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