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UK must join up its thinking by 2015

Could we soon be required to collect our glass separately to meet the requirements of the revised Waste Framework Directive (rWFD)?

A strong hint we might was given to MRW, as reported last week, when Colin Church, Defra director of resource, atmosphere and sustainability suggested that it was “likely” that glass would have to be collected separately from other materials as he did not believe it could be collected commingled with other materials and separated out to a good enough level of quality.

Debate around collection methodology and quality of materials has gone on in the industry for several years now, with paper and glass reprocessors in particular unhappy with the quality of these materials collected commingled with others.

The transposition of the revised Waste Framework Directive (rWFD) into law via The Waste (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012, has spelt out that from January 2015 waste collection authorities are required to collect waste paper, metal, plastic and glass separately where “necessary to ensure that waste undergoes recovery operations in accordance with the directive and to facilitate or improve recovery; and where it is technically, environmentally and economically practicable”.

What “technically, environmentally and economically practicable” – or TEEP – actually means is expected to be spelt out by Defra in guidance released this autumn. This will be very important reading for the industry.

Of course guidance is guidance and how the requirements of the rWFD are enforced is another matter. Church has said the rWFD will be enforced by the Environment Agency. The EA has told us it is too early to give more detail about how this would work in practice. In a recent conversation I had with someone in the industry, he said he had received three different answers to the same question from different parts of the EA. So let’s hope the EA seizes this opportunity to provide consistent enforcement on this – and ultimately help us raise the bar for quality.

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