Mixed recycling case dismissed by judge

Copied from Local Government Chronicle online
6 March, 2013 | By Neil Roberts

A judge has dismissed the claim brought by members of the Campaign for Real Recycling that sought restrictions on commingled collections, according to the Environmental Services Association.

The claimants had argued Defra and the Welsh Government had not properly transposed the European revised Waste Directive Framework in the Waste Regulations (England and Wales), in particular rules on when commingled collections are allowed.

They argued commingled collections do not produce high quality recyclate while waste firms Biffa and Veolia released statements warned that a victory would force councils to switch to sorting recycling on the kerbside wasting taxpayers money and damaging recycling rates.

ESA said the judge, Mr Justice Hickinbottom, found the governments had properly interpreted European law and that the obligation to set up separate collection of paper, metal, plastic and glass from 2015 applies only where it is necessary to ensure waste undergoes recovery operations and to facilitate and improve recovery and is also technically, environmentally and economically practicable.

ESA’s director general, Barry Dennis told LGC’s sister publication Materials Recycling World: “The ESA has always believed that both the directive and the revised Defra regulations recognise that decisions over local collection methods are complex and that local discretion over the format of recycling collections is needed to ensure that the Directive’s objectives are met. We are therefore pleased that the judge, having examined the matter in great depth, has taken the same view.

“ESA members can now get on with the challenge of working with their local authority customers to select the most appropriate collection system locally. This is vital if we are to continue to make significant increases in recycling rates, so that as much of our waste as possible is returned to productive use.”

The legal action did force the governments to revise the regulations last year to require separate collections only where technically, environmentally and economically practicable and necessary to meet the required standards of reprocessors.

But the CRR rejected that revision as an inadequate transposition of the EU law which demands: “measures to promote high quality recycling” and “separate collections of waste where technically, environmentally and economically practicable and appropriate to meet the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors.”

The judge also dismised an application by the claimants to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

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