Defra prepares for revised waste directive

A consultation on how to implement the revised EU Waste Framework Directive in England and Wales was launched today by Defra, the UK government department responsible for policy and regulations on the environment, food and rural affairs.

The Directive will bring together new and existing measures to promote waste prevention, recycling and better use of resources while protecting human health and the environment.

The consultation includes proposing a legal obligation on those producing waste (other than householders) to deal with their waste in the most environmentally friendly way wherever practical, prioritising actions to prevent waste in the first place, preparing any waste for reuse, recycling it, or creating energy from the waste.

It also proposes a statutory target to recycle 50 per cent of waste from households by 2020 and recovering 70 per cent of construction and demolition waste by 2020. There is an existing joint government and industry voluntary target to halve construction, demolition and excavation waste disposed of in landfill by 2012, compared to 2008.

The Directive also suggests setting up where practical separate collections for waste paper, metal, plastic and glass by 2015. Separate collections can include co-mingled waste collection followed by separation at recycling facilities.

The revised Waste Framework Directive also requires member states to encourage the separate collection of bio-waste. Defra is not proposing any additional measures on this in the draft regulations. Guidance is already available to local authorities and the proposals in the consultation do not change existing bio-waste policy.

The Directive also includes a definition of the term ’recycling’ for the purpose of setting and meeting targets. Defra and the Devolved Administrations are reviewing which reprocessing techniques should be termed ’recycling’ to ensure a UK-wide approach. For example, metals recycled from incinerator bottom ash will now be counted as recycled, bringing England into line with the rest of the UK.

The consultation closes on 16 September 2010 and can be found here.