Our way of recycling should be safe – for now

Copied from Local Government Chronicle
Be aware of new recycling regulations
11 March, 2014 | By Andrew Bird

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs recently published the long-awaited materials recovery facility regulations and a summary of responses from last year’s consultation.

The regulations aim to drive up the quality of both materials entering such facilities and the output of materials sold on for reprocessing.

A mandatory code of practice will come into effect this autumn, requiring all facilities processing more than 1,000 tonnes of material to sample and report on inputs and the various materials streams resulting from sorting and separation.

While I think the regulations could have gone further, I welcome their introduction.

They will serve to increase confidence in the purchasing of materials from MRFs by reprocessors, supporting the move towards a more circular economy.

The regulations will be enforced by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales through one pre-arranged inspection and one unannounced inspection each year.

So what will the code mean for councils?

It should enable them and waste companies to demonstrate greater transparency and provide mechanisms which help reassure residents that the efforts they put into recycling result in high-quality materials.

It will also help reassure that the commingling of recycling collections can deliver high-quality materials, and help to provide a more robust monitoring framework to assess whether commingled collections meet the requirements of the revised Waste Framework Directive, or TEEP.

So what is TEEP?

In essence it refers to it being technically, environmentally and economically practicable to collect each material separately.

Technically practicable means that separate collection may be implemented through systems developed and proven to function in practice.

Environmentally practicable means the added value of ecological benefits justifies possible negative environmental effects of separate collection.

Economically practicable refers to separate collections that do not cause excessive costs in comparison with the treatment of a non-separated waste stream, taking into account the added value of recovery and recycling and the principle of proportionality.

If you are not currently aware of the implications of the revised Waste Framework directive and its implications for your authority, you need to consider them urgently, and particularly if you are considering changes to the way you collect materials for recycling.

Here are the articles pertinent to Waste Collection Authorities:

Article 4 – Waste hierarchy

Article 10 – Recovery. Paragraph 2 – first mention of waste needing to be collected separately to facilitate or improve recovery if it is TEEP.

Article 11 – Re-use and recycling – about promoting re-use of products and high-quality recycling

Article 13 – Protection of human health and the environment

Article 15 – Responsibility for waste management

If you are unaware of the implications of the revised directive and its implications for your authority, you need to consider them urgently, particularly if you are changing the way you collect materials for recycling.

These requirements come into force in 2015, so decisions taken now and in the future need to be robust.

Andrew Bird, chair, Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee

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