New rules covering the collection of commercial and municipal waste came into force from the beginning of January.
Under revisions to the Waste Framework Directive, waste must now be separately collected from recyclable materials although this is already the case for many businesses. Just ahead of the New Year, the Environment Agency wrote to businesses in the waste industry and also to councils to remind them of the obligations to separately collect paper, plastic, glass and metal from January 1.
But, there are some concessions within the legislation which mean that the rules do not always have to be applied in practice, although the emphasis will be on ensuring that waste and recycling are separately collected.
A spokesman for the Agency, said: “We have written to remind waste collectors that they should collect recycled paper, glass, metals and plastic separately where this is technically, economically and environmentally practicable and necessary to produce high-quality recycling.
“These rules are being brought in as part of the Waste Regulations (2011) under the EU Waste Framework Directive. The aim is to help ensure that recycled materials are good enough to make new paper, glass, plastics and metal, so helping to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, help the economy and improve the environment.”
The concessions under the new regime are a subject of discussion and are controversial. Under the regulations, separate collections of at least paper, metal, plastic and glass for household and commercial waste are a legal requirement, unless it is not technically, environmentally or economically practicable (TEEP), or necessary to allow for the high quality recycling of the material.
The Agency has also produced a ‘risk-based regime, compiling a matrix of what it believes are indicators of ‘high’, ‘medium’ and ‘low’ levels of compliance. Previously it has stated that it will seek to pursue legal action ‘as a last resort’ and this is confirmed in an updated briefing note.