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

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:

    Enforcement    Incineration
    Environmental Information    Litter and Fly-tipping
    Food Waste    Recycling
    Health and Safety    Waste Policy


Environmental Services Association: Rethinking waste crime: this report finds that waste crime in England incurs losses to the legitimate waste industry and the taxpayer of £604m p.a. The majority of waste crime is associated with waste from businesses, not from households and the most serious waste crime falls into one of six categories: illegal waste sites; inaccurately describing waste; illegal export of waste; illegal burning of waste; fly tipping; and serious breaches of permit conditions. Weak regulation  is a major cause of waste crime. The ESA recommends a package of changes to modernise England’s out of date waste management system, including tightening up regulation of areas that are barely regulated, increasing enforcement, banning serious and repeat offenders from the sector, and securing new sources of funding from criminals for the Environment Agency. (2 May 2017)

Environment Agency: Company owner jailed for 15 months: reports that Manchester Crown Court has disqualified the owner of a waste recycling company from being a company director for six years and sentenced him to 15 months' imprisonment, after he pleaded guilty to ten charges relating to the unlawful operation of three waste sites. Another director was fined £500 and the Financial Director was given a conditional discharge of 12 months. The prosecution followed a lengthy investigation by the Environment Agency that identified the unlawful operation and mismanagement of the three sites. Excessive amounts of waste were imported on to the sites, which breached their environmental permits, and the defendants failed to comply with Enforcement and Suspension Notices. A major fire broke out at one site, that lasted for 41 days and resulted in the closure of the M60 Motorway and a river was polluted by the fire-fighting water run-off. In addition, the landowner has to pay to clear the site at an estimated cost in excess of £10m. (3 April 2017)

Environment Agency: Jail term for Scunthorpe waste operator: reports that Hull Crown Court has sentenced a waste site operator to a total of 6 months' imprisonment after she pleaded guilty to two charges relating to waste site operations. She was also disqualified from being a director for seven years. The judge said that the defendant had deliberate flouted environmental regulations and attempted to conceal the illegal activity. As the Technically Competent Manager for the site, she would have been well aware that there was no permit in place at the site and she had previous convictions for breaches of environmental legislation. (7 April 2017)

Environment Agency: Cornwall waste disposer prosecuted for illegally storing asbestos: reports that Truro Crown Court has fined the owner of a Penzance waste disposal business £40,000 for two offences under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 relating to illegally storing and treating waste, including asbestos. He was also ordered to pay £14,200 costs and £25,772 under the Proceeds of Crime Act. The site manager was fined £4,000 for the same offences plus £2,000 costs. (21 April 2017)

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Environmental Information

Worcestershire CC v Information Commissioner & Mercia Waste Management Ltd (Part Allowed : Environmental Information Regulations 2004) [2017] UKFTT 2015/02/09 (GRC): the Council and MWM entered into a Variation Agreement to record a number of changes to a Waste Management Services Contract (WMSC). The WMSC had been published on the freedom of information pages of the Council’s website with the whole or parts of some sections redacted, including provisions concerning performance monitoring, recycling targets, the project plan, recovery targets and recovery rate calculations. The Council appealed against the Information Commissioner's decision that the Council was not entitled to redact information in the Variation Agreement before its disclosure, beyond the limited amount of financial figures and formulae identified.
The Tribunal held, allowing the Council's appeal in part, that the Environmental Information Regulations 2000 (EIR) regime applied to the whole of the Variation Agreement.  Accordingly, a substantial quantity of additional information could be withheld as it was covered by reg.12(5)(e) EIR, and  the public interest in maintaining the exception in each case outweighed the public interest in disclosure. The Tribunal ordered the Council to disclose to the complainant a copy of the Variation Agreement between the Council and MWM, redacted to remove the financial information identified in the original Decision Notice, and the information identified in the Confidential Schedule 1 attached to this Decision. (18 April 2017)

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Food Waste

HC Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee: Food waste in England: this report concludes that the Government should establish a national food waste reduction target to drive efforts to reduce the food waste costing the average person in the UK £200 per year. To combat food waste, supermarkets should publicly report data on the amount of food they bin and relax rules that prevent the sale of "wonky vegetables". The inquiry was set up to examine food waste in England, focusing on consumers, the retail and hospitality sectors, and local government. Because of the unexpected dissolution of Parliament on 3 May, the report has been produced earlier than expected and so focuses on a number of key issues, where the Committee feels that improvements can be made. (30 April 2017)

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Health and Safety

Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum: Reducing fire risk at waste management sites: good practice guidance for waste management operators on reducing the likelihood and frequency of fires at solid waste management sites, and where fires do occur, reducing the potential safety, health, environmental, property damage and business interruption impacts. The first part covers general issues such as scope and fire risks while the second part provides specific guidance for waste management sites in four areas. The appendices cover issues such as external storage, fire engineering and checklists to help operators assess if their fire control is adequate. (2 May 2017)

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European IPPC Bureau: Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Document on waste incineration: the EC's Joint research Centre has published the first draft of the BREF on Waste Incineration, which is used by EU member states to guide decisions on permitting facilities under the Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75. It covers industrial waste incineration and EfW facilities, including those using gasification, pyrolysis and plasma processes. It proposes new lower pollution limits for NOx emissions to air from new waste incineration facilities of below a daily average of 120mg/Nm3. The closing date for comments is 8 September 2017. (24 May 2017)

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Litter and Fly-tipping

DCLG: Litter strategy for England: this strategy sets out how the Government will work with different local groups, local authorities, Highways England and businesses to reduce litter. The proposals include: 

  • increasing fixed penalties for littering and related offences and introducing new regulations to help councils tackle littering from vehicles (see below); 
  • providing improved guidance for councils on how to use their enforcement powers proportionately and appropriately; 
  • producing new guidance on the design, number and location of public litter bins and other items of street furniture for local areas to help them reduce levels of litter; 
  • empowering local communities to take action, including piloting a new ‘litter innovation fund’; and 
  • creating a new expert group to look at further ways of cutting the worst kinds of litter, including plastic bottles and drinks containers, cigarette ends and fast food packaging.

The strategy also outlines measures to protect seas, oceans and marine life from pollution, building on the success of the 5p plastic bag charge, which has led to a 40% decrease in bags found on the beach. The Government will follow the strategy with a new national anti-littering campaign in 2018, working with industry and the voluntary sector to drive behaviour change.
Alongside the strategy, DEFRA has issued a consultation on Reducing litter: penalties for environmental offences that seeks views on proposals to increase the levels of fixed penalties for littering and other environmental offences, and to change how councils can use the income from such fixed penalties. It also proposes new regulations to enable councils to issue fixed penalties to the keeper of a vehicle from which litter is thrown, where the litterer cannot be identified. The consultation closes on 18 June 2017. (10 April 2017)

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Welsh Government: Wales increases recycling lead: announces that 19 of the 22 local authorities in Wales increased their recycling rate by at least one percentage point the 12 months up to December 2016.
Wales is now recycling double the amount it did a decade ago and continues to be used as an example of good practice for the rest of the UK. (25 May 2017)

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Waste Policy

Environmental Services Association: Planning for a circular economy: the Circular Economy is a concept in which the value of resources are maximised by ensuring materials remain circulating within the economy for as long as possible. This report sets out a number of recommendations to more closely align the planning system with the strategic objectives of the Circular Economy. It finds that there is significant scope to improve the planning culture within many local authorities to give the industry the flexibility it needs to adapt to the new, sustainable business models shaped by the Circular Economy, and it outlines key aspects of the planning regime which can often frustrate the industry’s efforts towards this aim. (11 April 2017)

Centre for European Policy Studies: The Circular Economy – A review of definitions, processes and impacts: this paper reviews the growing literature on the circular economy with the aim of improving understanding of the concept as well as its various dimensions and expected impacts. It then attempts to map the processes involved and their application in different sectors. (7 April 2017)

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