This Update contains brief details of recent Government and EU publications, legislation, cases and other developments in England and Wales relevant to those interested in municipal waste management, which have been published in the past month.

Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet. All links are correct at the date of publication.

If you have been forwarded this update by a colleague and would like to receive it direct please email Claire Booth.

The following topics are covered in this update:

   Energy from Waste    Producer Responsibility
   Enforcement    Sustainable Development
   Environmental Taxes    Waste Collection
   Health and Safety    Waste Management
   Landfill    Waste Minimisation


Energy from Waste

CentreForum: Hit the gas - How to get the anaerobic digestion sector moving: this report argues that an efficient and sustainable way to achieve the UK’s renewable energy goals is through greater use of Anaerobic Digestion (AD). Producing renewable energy from waste and purpose grown crops, AD currently produces enough energy to power 300,000 homes, and the authors estimate that this could easily grow to 2.5m households by 2020. It sets out the benefits of AD, outlines the various barriers to AD growth that currently exist in the UK, and finally proposes a systematic framework of incentives, education and government regulation to harness this potential. (5 July 2012)

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LGA: Metal theft survey 2012: sets out the findings of a survey into the levels of metal theft experienced by councils between April 2009 and early 2012. It found that 71% of councils had suffered metal thefts over the period, with gully/drainage/manhole covers being the most commonly stolen items, and only 12% had not had any thefts. The research also covered costs incurred by councils, whether thefts had resulted in claims against authorities, legal and preventative action taken by authorities and councils' opinions on how to tackle the problem. Over half of the survey respondents thought that they should be given powers to deal with unscrupulous scrap metal dealers, including closure of illegally trading sites, the introduction of a cashless payment system and a requirement for better record keeping. Councils are urging Parliament to vote in favour of a Private Member’s Bill to reform the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964. (9 July 2012) 

Oxfordshire CC v Wyatt Brothers (Oxford) Ltd (Unreported) (QBD, John Leighton Williams QC): the Council applied to enforce committal orders made against two brothers, MW and RW, who owned the respondent company. In the 1990s they unlawfully deposited waste on their site near Oxford, where they ran a golf course and driving range. The Council made numerous attempts to have the waste removed and the brothers repeatedly failed to comply with a number of suspended committal orders. In December 2011 the court ordered that sentences of imprisonment be suspended subject to various conditions, including that the brothers submit a specification of works to the Council for approval. The document submitted by the brothers did not meet the court's detailed requirements. The brothers submitted that the committal orders should not be activated because their specification of works represented a reasonable compromise, bad weather had prevented them from undertaking works to comply with the court's order, and it would be disproportionate and contrary to the public interest to commit them to prison.
The court held, granting the application, that the successive orders represented a tightening of the conditions imposed and to be complied with, and compliance had been the basis on which the sentences of imprisonment had been suspended. Court orders were made to be obeyed. There had not been "broad compliance" with the orders. There was no valid distinction to be made here between private and public law proceedings. The issues were whether there was any reason to accept that the brothers would comply with the orders such as would justify a sympathetic approach, whether court orders should be allowed to be continually flouted, or whether the time had come when sanctions needed to be imposed. The brothers had made no realistic efforts to ensure anything more than token compliance with the order. The judge ordered that MW serve four months' imprisonment and RW serve six months' imprisonment. (25 July 2012)
The judgment is available on Lawtel (password required).

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Environmental Taxes

HMRC: Landfill tax - interim advice on lower rating: this advice, which has been drafted following consultation with parties representing the waste management industry and other stakeholders, clarifies matters relating to the recent HMRC Briefs 15/12 and 18/12 relating to landfill tax. It focuses on matters relating to the acceptance of materials by landfill operators and deals with specific queries that have arisen since the Briefs were issued. (5 July 2012)

HM Treasury: Definition of environmental tax published: the Government has set out the three principles with which taxes must comply in order to be defined as “environmental”. These are: 

  • the tax is explicitly linked to the Government’s environmental objectives; 
  • the primary objective of the tax is to encourage environmentally positive behaviour change; and 
  • the tax is structured in relation to environmental objectives, e.g. the more polluting the behaviour, the greater the tax levied.

Applying these principles, it has identified six taxes as environmental: 

  • Climate Change Levy 
  • Aggregates Levy 
  • Landfill Tax 
  • EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) 
  • Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme  
  • Carbon Price Support

These will comprise the baseline against which the Government’s commitment to increase the proportion of environmental tax revenue will be measured. The press release sets out  the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecast of the revenue in the years to 2015/16 from these taxes. (16 July 2012)

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Health and Safety

HSE: Consultation on proposals to review HSE’s Approved Codes of Practice (ACOPs): seeks views on proposals for the revision, consolidation or withdrawal of 15 ACOPs which are to be delivered by the end of 2013 and on proposals for minor revisions, or no changes, to a further 15 ACOPs which are to be delivered by 2014. These include a proposal to withdraw the ACOP for the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and replace it with a suite of more specific, updated guidance by 2013. It also seeks views on a proposal to limit all ACOP documents to a maximum length of 32 pages, other than in exceptional circumstances. The consultation closes on 14 September 2012. (25 June 2012)

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DEFRA: Wood waste landfill restrictions in England – Call for evidence: seeks views and information from the wood waste industry and other interested parties on the sustainable management of wood waste and measures to divert wood waste from landfill where this is the best environmental option. The consultation closes on 28 September 2012. (31 July 2012)

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Producer Responsibility

Directive 2012/19 on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) [2012] OJEU L197/38: this Directive revokes and replaces the WEEE Directive 2002/96 that introduced rules on collection and recycling of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). The new Directive aims to improve the collection, re-use and recycling of used electronic devices so as to contribute to the reduction of waste and to the efficient use of resources. It also seeks to limit illegal exports of such waste from the EU and to improve the environmental performance of all operators involved in the life cycle of EEE. It requires member states from 2016 to collect each year 45% of the average weight of EEE placed on their national markets; this collection rate is raised to 65% from 2019. It also widens the scope of the legislation to cover in principle all EEE, such as photovoltaic panels, equipment containing ozone-depleting substances and fluorescent lamps containing mercury, which will have to be collected separately and properly treated from 14 August 2018.  The Directive comes into force on 13 August 2012 and must be transposed into national law by 14 February 2014. (4 July 2012)

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Sustainable Development

DEFRA: Consultation on new Sustainable Development Indicators: seeks views on a new set of Sustainable Development Indicators, which are intended to provide an overview of national progress on key issues that are important economically, socially and environmentally in the long term.  They will complement the National Wellbeing Measures published by ONS. The consultation closes on 15 October 2012. (24 July 2012)

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Waste Collection

DEFRA: Summary of responses to the consultation on amending the powers of local authorities regarding presentation of waste for collection: in January 2012 DEFRA consulted on proposed amendments to s.46 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which sets out the penalties which local authorities may apply to householders who present their waste incorrectly, so as to ensure a fairer system of penalties that respects individuals’ civil liberties while dealing effectively with behaviours that have a negative impact on residents’ local neighbourhoods. This document summarises DEFRA’s comments on the responses received. (9 July 2012)

Waste (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/1889): these regulations, which come into force on 1 October 2012, amend SI 2011/988 that transposed the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98. They were made after judicial Review proceedings were brought challenging the transposition and, in particular, the provision relating to comingled collection. This SI amends the 2011 Regulations by replacing reg.13 so as to impose a duty on establishments and undertakings, from 1 January 2015, for the separate collection of waste paper, metal, plastic and glass. It also imposes a duty on waste collection authorities, from that date, when making arrangements for the collection of such waste, to ensure that those arrangements are by way of separate collection.
See also DEFRA’s Response to the consultation on amending the Waste Regulations 2011 on the separate collection of recycling. (19 July 2012)

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Waste Management

European Commission: Guidance document on the Waste Framework Directive: guidance on the revised Waste Framework Directive 2008/98 that applies from 12 December 2010. The Directive introduces new provisions in order to boost waste prevention and recycling as part of the waste hierarchy and clarifies key concepts such as the definitions of waste, recovery and disposal; it also lays down the appropriate procedures applicable to by-products and to waste that ceases to be waste. Since the date of application of the Waste Framework Directive, many questions regarding its interpretation and application have been raised by national authorities and stakeholders. (21 June 2012)

WRAP: Annual gate fees report 2012 - Comparing the cost of alternative waste treatment options: summary of gate fees charged for a range of alternative waste treatment, recovery and disposal options. The report summarises indicative gate fee information and analyses the factors likely to influence future gate fees. The information in the report allows local authorities to make better informed decisions regarding waste management options. It highlights the growing number of cost-effective alternative waste management options to landfill, underlining the economic and environmental savings that can be made if waste is not buried in the ground. Materials Recovery Facilities gate fees have continued to fall and are substantially lower than previous surveys - many local authorities report that they are either not paying gate fees, or are receiving payment for their recovered materials. (9 July 2012)

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Waste Minimisation

WRAP: Leading hospitality and food service companies sign up to waste agreement: announces that 73 leading UK hotels, pubs, restaurants, quick service restaurants, contract caterers, industry bodies and government departments have signed up to the Hospitality and Food Service Agreement that aims to cut food and associated packaging waste by 5% and to increase the overall rate of food and packaging waste that is being recycled, sent to AD or composted to 70%. Firms that sign up to the voluntary agreement must meet targets to prevent waste occurring and to boost recycling. The agreement runs until December 2015. (27 June 2012)

Welsh Government: Evaluation of the introduction of the single-use carrier bag charge in Wales - attitude change and behavioural spillover: this evaluation shows that the policy is popular and effective and that it has helped to increase own bag use in Wales - this is consistent with findings from other countries where a similar charge has been introduced. While the study also showed an increase in own bag use in England, where no carrier bag charge was introduced, the increase was greater in Wales. The study shows that the charge is widely supported in Wales - even before its introduction, the charge was supported by a majority of the Welsh population and support increased even further after its introduction, from 59% to 70%.
See also New figures on carrier bags use released by WRAP that show a rise in the number of single-use carrier bags used by supermarket customers across the UK during 2011. (4 July 2012)

European Environmental Bureau: Tips and advice on how to create an efficient waste prevention programme: this report compiles a number of official reports into a guidance document on the minimum features required to ensure a useful waste prevention plan. (6 July 2012)

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