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Commingling legal row could go to Europe

The Campaign for Real Recycling (CRR) is seeking to have its judicial review of recycling collections heard at the European Court of Justice.

Mal Williams, CRR chair, told MRW he had applied for the case to be heard in Luxembourg so that European judges could rule on the interpretation by Defra and the Welsh Government of the EU’s revised Waste Framework Directive that allows commingled collections.

Williams said the application was “an attempt at time saving”.

The JR is scheduled to be heard in Cardiff from 26-28 February. A short hearing to decide whether to allow CRR to move the case to Europe will now take place on 24 January.

Williams said it had become clear during preparation for the JR that both sides’ argument revolved around interpreting the European legislation, and it was likely the judge in Cardiff would send the case to Luxembourg anyway.

“When you’re dealing with something that’s a matter of interpretation of a European directive, it’s relevant. So we are actually doing something to try and save everybody time, trouble and money.

“I know our opponents are trying to make us look like the bad guys, and look like we’re causing confusion, but that’s just not the case. We just want clarity on this interpretation. We think they’ve got the interpretation wrong. They’ve tried to fix it twice, but we don’t think they have.”

The Governments were forced to amend the law last year after reprocessors and opponents of commingled collections, concerned about recyclate quality, brought the JR. The case was halted in December 2011 after the Government said it would make a fresh attempt at transposing the EU revised waste framework directive (rWFD).

While waste management firms and local authorities welcomed the amendment that will effectively allow commingling, opponents have said it is not good enough.

Andy Moore CRR coordinator has said the amendment was “still not an adequate transposition of the revised Waste Framework Directive”.

In a statement CRR said: “It remains the position of the claimants that separate collection of recyclable materials is the only way to guarantee high quality recycling. We are working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. If the case does not require reference to CJEU, then we will continue to make this case when the judicial review is consequently heard at the High Court in Cardiff on 26-28th February.”


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