Draft guidance on compliance with the separate collection requirements under the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations, which come into effect from January 2015, has been circulated by the Environment Agency.
A briefing note, which is being drawn up by the Agency outlines the requirements of the regulations which state that from January 2015 separate collections of at least paper, metal, plastic and glass for household and commercial waste must be carried out to promote high quality recycling.
However, commingled collection of recyclable material is allowed if it is not necessary to provide high quality recyclate, or unless it is not technically, environmentally or economically practicable (TEEP).
Much of the information contained in the note will already be familiar to local authorities and waste firms that have made an assessment of whether the service they offer is compliant with the regulations.
However the Agency does outline its role as the enforcement authority responsible for overseeing the application of the legislation, which includes its view on the lengths to which councils and waste firms will have to go to satisfy the legal requirements.
The document also confirms the Agency is currently working with the government and WRAP to develop a “risk based” regime for regulation.
On the definition of high quality recycling, the Agency points to guidance published by the European Commission which implies that high quality “means the standard that can be achieved by separate collection”.
It also highlights the Resource Association’s ReQIP recyclate target contamination limits tool as a useful resource to assess quality requirements.
The document also outlines how the Agency will take account of local circumstances when judging the compliance of any service – conceding that different solutions may be practicable in different neighbourhoods.
It adds: “It is clear that practicable solutions will vary according to the type, size and make-up etc of each waste collection authority”.
“We will expect to see the collection authority has thoroughly reviewed the issue based on evidence and can present a clear audit trail of their decisions. ‘Practicability’ is intended to be a high hurdle. ‘Impracticable’ does not just mean difficult, inconvenient, more expensive or unpopular.”
The briefing note does outline that the use of bring banks as a means of meeting the separate collection requirements is likely to be permissible. The Environment Agency claims there is no requirement for a ‘single collection system’ under the regulations.
It adds: “Different systems may be appropriate for different areas or for different housing types within a local authority area. A mix of bring banks and kerbside collection might be a suitable way to increase yields and move waste up the hierarchy. Bring-based systems can provide a means of collecting recyclable materials separately but tend to generate lower yields compared to kerbside so exclusive use of bring banks may mean that the Waste Hierarchy requirements are not met.”
Commenting on the document, a spokeswoman for the Agency, said: “These are proposals which are being discussed at public events and will be reviewed with local authorities”.
“The regulations come into force in January 2015, this is part of the government drive to increase quality of recyclates and ensure the value of waste is recovered and supports the economy.
“This regulation promotes best practice in sorting and recycling waste, and is what many local authorities already do.”
A final version of the briefing note is expected to be published ahead of the January 2015 deadline for the implementation of the regulations.