Walker Morris present to Waste Industry on waste recycling regulations

Walker Morris presents to waste industry sector leaders Print news article

20/12/2013

Walker Morris support LRS consultancy’s event for recycling industry and waste collection authorities

Walker Morris provided expert legal input at LRS Consultancy’s eagerly anticipated and well-attended recent event, ‘Recycling Services: Avoiding exposure and turning TEEP to your advantage’, which provided a forum for local authorities and the resource management industry to hear first-hand from key note speakers and discuss legal requirements for recycling services, while raising awareness of the opportunities that could exist to develop a circular economy for the UK through improved material quality.

The event followed the call from local authorities and the waste sector alike, for the Government to provide clarification on its amendments to the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations for separate waste recycling collections.  The Government is proposing to make it a requirement for councils to have separate collections for paper, plastic, metals and glass by 2015 where technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP).  Where this isn’t practicable, commingled collections will be allowed.

Dee Moloney, Managing Director, LRS Consultancy, said: “LRS Consultancy brought Defra, CIWM, LWARB, LEDNET, and other key industry figures together to help stimulate a well-overdue industry debate about the risks and opportunities surrounding ‘TEEP’.  This has been causing a stir for a while now within the UK’s waste collection and handling industry, and we see an important role for LRS to play in facilitating the sharing of knowledge and to advise how the resource management supply chain can collaborate to overcome any issues around the quality of materials and to maximise the economic opportunities.”
Although there remains an air of uncertainty about whether guidance will or won’t be published by Defra, and how prescriptive that guidance might be, the debate resulted in agreement that service providers should follow robust, demonstrable steps to evidence that they are meeting TEEP.  Many senior managers said that they came away from the event confident enough to brief elected members about TEEP, get the topic on their risk register and talk about it at committee meetings.

With concerns from local authorities predominantly coming from those operating commingled collection services, it was stated by Ben Sheppard, Partner, Walker Morris, who spoke at the LRS TEEP event, that, “If, following collection, subsequent separation of materials in the supply chain can achieve recycling of a quality similar to the standard that can be achieved through separate collections, then commingling can be in line with Article 11 of the revised Waste Framework Directive and the principles of the waste hierarchy.”

Dee Moloney continued: “As key advocates for industry collaboration, we know how fundamental it is to get the whole supply chain in the same room to talk.  That includes the local authority, the collection contractor, the reprocessors and the manufacturers that will be procuring the end-market materials.  By doing this, you can come to an understanding about the quality of materials required at each stage of the process and how each can support one another.  Some MRF operators and reprocessors have amazing technology to sort and separate ‘acceptable’ material and keep it going around the circular economy.  These innovations, for instance with robotics, will help overcome barriers and perceptions of what quality actually is.”

Paul Levett, Chairman, LRS Consultancy said, “Local authorities need to be aware of the impacts of TEEP, particularly those that are imminently procuring new services – they should engage the market and request that waste contractors quote for a range of options.  With recycling rates stagnating, TEEP could be viewed positively as a catalyst to review long-term strategies and migrate to a paradigm, which will not only comply with TEEP, but will simultaneously address the capture of more materials and more value from these materials, by improving quality.”

Dee Moloney said: “It is not just municipal collectors that need to be aware – a common misconception we found at the event – but also those operating commercial and industrial collection services, many of which seem to be unaware of this.  Overall, those responsible for collecting dry recyclables need to ensure their decision-making is robust.  There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to it and there will be different solutions in different areas because of, for instance, demographics, housing type, street layout and waste stream material composition.”

The ‘TEEP’ debate continues at an event in Manchester, on 28 January: ‘Recycling services: Avoiding exposure and turning TEEP to your advantage’.  Visit our events page for further details and to register.

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