Waste Consultation (Wales)

On the 19th December 2019, the Welsh Government issued a consultation document “Beyond Recycling” to put in place a strategy to make the circular economy a reality in Wales. Consultation responses deadline is 3rd April 2020.

The consultation document is here.

This strategy proposes –

(1) extended producer responsibility for packaging

(2) deposit return scheme for drinks containers

(3) bans or restrictions to phase-out single use plastics

(4) full responsibility for waste in Wales

Environment Bill (published) Part 3 (England & UK part)

The Bill is here. 130 Clauses in 8 Parts, and 20 Schedules.

The Explanatory Memorandum is here.

The Environment Bill (“the Bill”) is comprised of two thematic halves.

(1) A legal framework for environmental governance once the UK leaves the EU.

This was earlier published in part as the draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill on 19 December 2018, fulfilling a legal obligation set out in section 16 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The measures published at that time related only to environmental principles and governance, and placing the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan on a statutory footing.

I posted two Blog posts about this (Brexit) – one on Parts 1&2 and one on the Environment Bill changing UK REACH (Brexit Law).

(2) Provision for specific improvement of the environment, including measures on waste and resource efficiency, air quality and environmental recall, water, nature and biodiversity, and conservation covenants.

SPECIFIC IMPROVEMENT of the ENVIRONMENT

Part 3 – the Waste and Resource Efficiency Part of the Environment Bill – includes –

– requiring producers to pay the full net cost of managing their products at end of life to incentivise more sustainable use of resources;

[some of this aligns with EU policy]

– allowing deposit return schemes to be established, whereby a deposit is included in the price of an in-scope item (such as a drink in a bottle or can) which is redeemed when the item is returned to a designated point;

[some EU member states have deposit return schemes, this aspect has been pre-consulted on by DEFRA]

– enabling producer responsibility obligations to be applied at all levels of the waste hierarchy to, for example, facilitate the prevention of food waste and increase the redistribution of food surplus;

[extended producer responsibility is also an EU objective in changes already made to some EU waste law]

– enabling charges to be applied to specified single-use plastic items;

[this aspect has been pre-consulted on by DEFRA]

– requiring local authorities in England to collect the same range of materials for recycling from households;

– ensuring households have a weekly separate food waste collection;

– ensuring businesses and public bodies present recyclable materials for separate collection and arranging for its separate collection;

[some of this is already provided for in existing Law, with regional variants]

– enabling government to set resource efficient product standards and information and labelling requirements, to drive a shift in the market towards durable, repairable and recyclable products;

[I wrote a recent Blog post about changes in EU eco-design law in this area]

– improving proportionality and fairness of litter enforcement, by issuing statutory guidance on the use of enforcement powers and extending an existing power to set out conditions to be met by all those carrying out enforcement activity;

– improving the management of waste, by enabling the Secretary of State to make regulations in relation to waste tracking digitally;

– improving the regulators’ effectiveness in tackling waste crime, reducing the cost of that criminal activity on the wider economy, environment and society;

– allowing the Environment Agency to be more flexible and responsive in managing exempt waste sites and ensure proportionate controls are in place to avoid environmental harm or illegal activity as waste market practices change;

– filling a gap in existing powers to ensure that waste can be collected and disposed of when normal processes fail;

– enabling the Secretary of State to make regulations to amend the permitted range of penalties for existing Fixed Penalty Notices; and

– enabling the Secretary of State to regulate the import, export or transit of waste and hazardous waste.

[Brexit Law makes provision for the international shipment of radioactive waste, shipments of waste to the EU after EU Exit will be subject to EU third country rules, unless new bi-laterals are agreed, or this matter is addressed in the trade deal]

As a Bill, this document would need to pass both Houses of Parliament to enter the statute books. You note, I pegged this as England.

Scotland and Northern Ireland already have Law on food waste. Waste is a devolved matter.

However, some Clauses are intended to have effect outside England – see page 194 of the Explanatory Memorandum which has a table.

If the Bill enters the statute books, the provisions then need to be commenced, some may be commenced immediately, such as those that are needed directly for EU Exit, but there could be a substantive delay in the commencement of other Part, such as Part 3.

I will issue further Blog posts, please look out for them.