Waste Watch - January 2018

Policy and legal developments in England and Wales relevant to those interested in municipal waste management

01/02/2018

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 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:

    Enforcement    Packaging Waste
    Environmental Policy    Recycling
    Incineration    Transport of Waste
    Landfill    Waste PFI
    Litter and Fly-tipping  

Enforcement

DEFRA: Consultation on proposals to tackle crime and poor performance in the waste sector & introduce a new fixed penalty for the waste duty of care: seeks views on proposals to reduce crime and poor performance in the waste sector by enforcing more appropriate competence standards for permitted waste site operators. DEFRA is also proposing to make changes to waste exemptions to prevent them being used to hide illegal activity. It also seeks views on the best ways to improve householder awareness of their waste duty of care. As part of this, it proposes to introduce a fixed penalty for householders failing to pass their waste to authorised waste carriers, which will provide local authorities with a more proportionate and less costly enforcement tool than prosecuting in court. The consultation closes on 26 March 2018.
DEFRA has also announced that it is bringing in regulations which will enable the regulators to secure a site against entry by physical means, and require occupiers and landowners of a waste site to remove all the waste at a site, not just the waste that was unlawfully deposited – see the draft Waste Enforcement (England and Wales) Regulations 2018. (15 January 2018)

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Environmental Policy

DEFRA: A green future – Our 25 year plan to improve the environment: sets out what the Government will do to improve the environment, within a generation. On waste, it says it will: make sure that resources are used more efficiently and kept in use for longer to minimise waste and reduce its environmental impacts by promoting reuse, remanufacturing and recycling; and  work towards eliminating all avoidable waste by 2050 and all avoidable plastic waste by end of 2042. The Government will publish a new Resources and Waste Strategy in 2018 aimed at making the UK a world leader in resource efficiency. This will set out its approach to reducing waste, promoting markets for secondary materials, incentivising producers to design better products and how to better manage materials at the end of life by targeting environmental impacts.  (11 January 2018)

NAO: Implementing the UK’s Exit from the European Union– The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs: this report focuses on how DEFRA is preparing to exit from the EU. It is part of a series of NAO briefings on the key bodies in the centre of government and the major spending departments that have to deliver Exit programmes. It notes that the EU affects virtually all of DEFRA’s activities, which means DEFRA faces an extensive legislative programme - this includes two major bills to establish UK policies for agriculture and fisheries and an estimated 95 items of secondary legislation to convert EU laws into UK law. It also looks at how DEFRA has set about its task and how it is working with others. (20 December 2017)

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Incineration

HC Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee: The role of the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency in waste incinerators: this briefing from the Environment Agency sets out how SEPA’s approach to planning decisions for incinerators differs from that of the Environment Agency. It highlights differences in approach, legislation and policy, and compares the organisations' separate guidance.  (20 December 2017)

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Landfill

HMRC: Landfill Tax – Disposals not made at landfill sites: seeks views on three draft Sis that extend Landfill Tax to illegal waste sites and clarify the definition of ‘taxable disposal’: the Landfill Tax (Disposals of Material) Order 2018; the Landfill Tax (Amendment) Regulations 2018; and the Aggregates Levy (General) (Amendment) Regulations 2018. The consultation closes on 18 February 2018. (22 January 2018)

Landfill Disposals Tax (Wales) Act 2017 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2018 (SI 2018/35 (W.11) (C.6)): this Order brings certain provisions of the Landfill Disposals Tax (Wales) Act 2017 into force in Wales on 25 January 2018. These provisions enable various applications to be made to the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) and provide WRA with the ability to approve these applications prior to the collection of LDT. It also commences relevant appeal and penalty provisions. The Order also brings into force on 1 April 2018 all remaining provisions of the Act that have not already been commenced. (11 January 2018)

HMRC: The Devolution of Landfill Tax (Wales) Order 2018: this technical consultation seeks views on the draft statutory instrument for devolution of Landfill Tax to Wales and closure of the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF). The draft Order introduces the changes needed to make sure that Landfill Tax is paid on all disposals up until 31 March 2018, even if it would normally be accounted for at a later date. This will allow LCF funds to continue being spent on projects in Wales for a two year transitional period following devolution. The consultation closed on 4 January 2018. (7 December 2018)

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Litter and Fly-tipping

Draft Littering from Vehicles outside London (Keepers: Civil Penalties) Regulations 2018: these draft regulations, which are scheduled to come into force on 1 April 2018, confer a power on English district councils outside London to require the keeper of a vehicle to pay a fixed penalty if there is reason to believe that a littering offence has been committed from the vehicle. This power is similar to that already conferred  on London borough councils by s.24 of the London Local Authorities Act 2007 to impose a penalty charge on the owner of vehicles from which litter is thrown. The range of penalty amount (£65 to £150) and the default penalty amount (£100) are aligned with those for the offence of leaving litter under s.87 of the  Environmental Protection Act 1990. (21 December 2017)

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Packaging Waste

HC Environmental Audit Committee: Disposable packaging – Coffee cups: this report forms part of the Committee's Disposable Packaging Inquiry (see below). It examines consumer perception of the environmental impact of coffee cups and industry actions to reduce coffee cup waste. The Committee found that the UK throws away 2.5bn disposable coffee cups every year, almost all of which are incinerated, exported or landfilled. Half a million cups are littered every day. Coffee cups are difficult to recycle, but not impossible; however, industry action has been voluntary, non-committal and slow. The Committee urges the Government to set a target that all disposable coffee cups should be recycled by 2023. If this target is not achieved, the Government should ban them. It recommends the introduction of a 25p “latte levy” on disposable coffee cups, with the money raised used to improve the UK’s recycling 'binfrastructure' and reprocessing facilities. (5 January 2018)

HC Environmental Audit Committee: Plastic bottles – Turning back the plastic tide: this is the first of two reports published as part of the Committee's Disposable Packaging Inquiry that looked at damage being done to the environment by disposable drinks packaging, focusing on the impact of plastic bottles and coffee cups. The inquiry examined what actions were being taken by industry and Government to reduce waste generated by coffee cups and plastic bottles, and investigated possible solutions. The Committee calls for the introduction of a UK-wide deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, a requirement to provide free drinking water in public premises, and to make producers financially responsible for the plastic packaging they produce. (22 December 2017)

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Recycling

London Assembly Environment Committee: Waste – Household recycling: this report examines London’s household recycling rates. It concludes that London needs to recycle much more of its waste. Recycling rates have broadly stayed the same for several years and it will be difficult to meet the recycling targets set out in the Mayor’s draft Environment Strategy if certain issues are ignored. (21 December 2017)

Rhondda Cynon Taf BC: Improving recycling performance: report to Cabinet on proposed changes within the Refuse and Recycling Collection service in order to improve the recycling rate and improve service delivery. The proposals include reducing the number of black bin bags collected fortnightly from four to two, and issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100 if a resident fails to follow the recycling rules. (25 January 2018)

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Transport of Waste

HC Environmental Audit Committee: Chinese waste import ban: the Commons Committee has announced a one-off evidence session into the impact of the recent Chinese ban on imported plastic and paper waste. The Committee will examine the environmental impact of the ban, whether the Government has made adequate preparations and what the Government can do to ensure the UK’s waste is managed sustainably. The deadline for written submissions was 19 January 2018. (12 January 2018)

HL EU Energy and Environment Sub-committee: Committee highlights concerns for trade in waste post-Brexit: the Lords Committee has written to Dr Therese Coffey, the Parliamentary Under-secretary for the Environment, drawing attention to the challenges Brexit may pose for the UK's trade in waste. The UK currently exports millions of tonnes of waste to the EU each year, and the Committee has held several evidence sessions to examine the potential impact of Brexit on that trade. The Committee says that it was pleased to hear the Minister's expressed confidence that Brexit will have little or no impact on the UK's trade in waste; however, the industry experts that it heard from did not share that confidence. It urges the Government to bear the industry's concerns in mind as Brexit negotiations continue, and seek to provide it with reassurance at the earliest possible opportunity. (18 January 2018)

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Waste PFI

House of Commons Library: The collapse of Carillion: this research briefing looks at the causes and consequences of Carillion's collapse. It includes a section on public sector contracts. The Commons Library will be updating it to cover more topics. (23 January 2018)

Smith Institute: Out of contract – Time to move on from the 'love in' with outsourcing and PFI: the policy think tank the Smith Institute has published a report which urges the Government to end its 'love in' with outsourcing work to private firms amid claims of 'deep flaws' in many deals. The report says outsourcing contracts were poor value for money, carried huge social costs and often benefited overseas shareholders of multinational companies. In the wake of the collapse of construction giant Carillion, public delivery of services should be the 'norm'. It calls for a comprehensive examination and audit of all outsources and PFI deals. (23 January 2018)

NAO: PFI and PF2: this briefing presents information on: the rationale, costs and benefits of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI); the use and impact of PFI, and ability to make savings from operational contracts; and the introduction of PF2. There are currently over 700 operational PFI and PF2 deals, with a capital value of around £60bn. Annual charges for these deals amounted to £10.3bn in 2016-17; even if no new deals are entered into, future charges which continue until the 2040s amount to £199bn. The briefing was prepared prior to the announcement on 15 January 2018 that the construction company Carillion was in liquidation. (18 January 2018)

Institute for Government: How to get better private finance deals for infrastructure: this report argues that if the Government wants to increase the volume of private investment in infrastructure it needs to publish a clear plan for future projects that addresses investors’ concerns about who will ultimately pay for them. It contends that persistent uncertainty will reduce the number of investors willing to bid, which will lead to inferior contract terms and ultimately higher costs for taxpayers and consumers. It also finds Whitehall needs more civil servants with the commercial skills to negotiate and manage private finance deals effectively – current civil service capability is not sufficient to meet the Government’s objective of substantially increasing private investment in infrastructure. The Government must increase the number of project finance specialists able to manage the specific contractual issues that come with private finance. (17 January 2018)

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