Deposit Return System (DRS) for Bottles and Cans (England & Wales)

Exit day is 31st October 2019

HMG announce today they will bring in a DRS for drinks containers (bottles and cans) in England and Wales via the Environment Bill.

Here

The cost of the deposit would be added to the price of the drinks included in the scheme when they are purchased. This deposit would be redeemed when consumers return their empty drinks containers to a designated return point.

HMG intend the proposed scope and model of the deposit return scheme to be consulted on in 2020, with the scheme to start no later than 2023.

Statement on UK Politics

The Environmental Bill is queued after various Brexit bills. HMG has a majority of only one in Parliament. None of the Brexit bills are announced for Parliament time. 2023 is beyond the date when a General Election would be held under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

Low Risk Waste Positions (England)

UPDATE : instructions on Registered Waste Exemptions was updated today (21st August) – here.

The Environment Agency is not currently enforcing the need for an environmental permit in specific cases for some activities.

These low risk waste positions (LRWPs) explain when a waste producer does not need to apply for an environmental permit for those activities.

A number of LRWPs are issued – here.

The online source for Registering Waste Exemptions is here.

Instructions to Local Governments (UK Brexit)

Exit day is 31st October 2019.

HMG issued today a compilation of Instructions applicable to Local Authorities.

Here.

Local authorities have relevant (to this Blog) functions, and the Instructions sign post to other Instructions issued –

* UK Product Safety and Metrology Guidance in a ‘no deal’ scenario – here (dated 25th March – a Blog post exists already about this)

* Food labelling changes if there’s a no-deal Brexit – here (dated 25th February)

* Health marks on meat, fish and dairy products here (accessed from online compilation dated 7th August – focus on the No Deal instructions)

* Importing high-risk food and animal feedhere (dated 10th April)

* Exporting GM food and animal feed products if there’s no Brexit Deal – here (dated 11th April)

* Importing, exporting and transporting products or goods after Brexithere (dated 22nd February)

* Find a professional to certify export health certificateshere (dated 11th June)

* Importing and exporting waste if there’s no Brexit dealhere (dated 3rd June)

[The UK government has secured an agreement that all UK consents for shipments of notifiable waste that go beyond 31 October 2019 will be rolled over.]

List of Brexit Law applicable to local authorities – here.

Some of these are listed in Cardinal Brexit Law List and are in the midst of being processed into the base law.

Environment Bill (UK)

I posted months ago about HMG proposal for a new Environment Bill. There has not been an Environment Bill since 1995.

Progress to date has been weak, and the aspects that were published so far related only to the Governance and Principles aspects.

Today, 23rd July, the DEFRA Secretary has published an updated Policy Statement (of intentions) – here.

Note : Environment is a policy area that is devolved to the regional nations, so the legislative proposals below would apply in England only. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would decide themselves whether and what to follow.

Note : this Statement identifies the Environment Bill will be introduced in the second Parliamentary Session (we are still in the First).

Air quality

(1) Legislation on key measures in the Clean Air Strategy – sharing responsibility for tackling air pollution (across local government structures and with relevant public bodies), plus enabling local government to tackle emissions from domestic burning.

(2) Powers for government to mandate recalls of vehicles and machinery, when they do not meet relevant legal emission standards.

Nature

(3) Nature policy to have a local community focus – a mandatory approach to biodiversity net gain requiring developers to ensure habitats for wildlife are enhanced, with a 10% increase in habitat value for wildlife compared with the pre-development baseline (national infrastructure projects excepted – we will continue to work to establish potential approaches to achieving biodiversity net gains for nationally significant infrastructure projects and marine development, which remain out of scope of biodiversity net gain in the Bill).

(4) Re net gain, planning and the future Environmental Land Management system (replacing agricultural land subsidies) – a new statutory requirement for Local Nature Recovery Strategies. The aim is for these strategies to help to map out important habitats and opportunities for the local environment to be improved, linking communities’ knowledge and priorities with national environmental objectives.

(5) A new duty on local authorities to consult with local communities to ensure that consultation takes place when a street tree is to be felled.

(6) Legislation on conservation covenants – voluntary agreements between a landowner and others (for example, a conservation charity) to help deliver positive local conservation.

Waste

(7) A series of measures that will fundamentally change the way government, businesses and individuals produce and consume products (this will be a big change).

(8) New legal powers to allow government to set resource-efficiency standards for products, driving a shift in the market towards products that are lasting, can be repaired and can be recycled. Plus clear labelling to enable citizens to make fully informed purchasing decisions.

(9) New powers to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility schemes – for packaging, producers will pay the full net cost of dealing with their packaging waste to incentivise recyclability in its design (this is in line with other countries). At the moment, producers currently only pay about 10% of these costs. This will be a fundamental change to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Producer Responsibility Law.

(10) Legislation to modernise the government’s powers to set producer responsibility obligations, extending them to prevention and redistribution of waste, in particular tackling food waste where there is no Legislation in England.

(11) A simplified approach to recycling across local authorities, making it simpler for the public to recycle. A consistent set of materials will need to be collected from all households and businesses in England, with clearer labelling on packaging.

(12) New powers to enable deposit return schemes, particularly dealing with plastic waste. Plus a new power to be able to introduce charges for specified single use plastic items. (Note, there is new EU Law in this area, I posted about recently).

(13) The Litter Strategy commits to review the mechanism by which councils and other land-managers can be held to account for maintaining their land to the standards set out in the Code of Practice. This includes the current section 91 Environment Protection Act process and other options, taking into account the impacts on local authority prioritisation and costs, the court system and the exchequer.

(14) A series of measures unspecified) to improve the management of waste, enabling better use of resources and to reduce the risk of economic, environmental and social harm.

Water

(15) Legislation to strengthen Ofwat’s powers to update water companies’ licences – in particular bringing the way in which water companies appeal Ofwat decisions in line with that for other utility regulators.

(16) New powers to direct water companies to work together on how they will meet current and future demand for water; making planning more robust, even in drought conditions and/or in areas of water stress, for example by working jointly to transfer between catchments when needed.

(17) A new power to enable future updates to a list of harmful chemicals which must be tackled to protect the aquatic environment.

Single-Use Plastics Ban (EU)

In legal text (a Directive) adopted 27th March 2019, the European Parliament decided to address the matter of single-use plastics as follows :

(1) Single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers to be banned by 2021

(2) 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029

(3) More stringent application of the “polluter pays” principle

Specifically the following Products will be banned in the EU by 2021 :

* Single-use plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks)

* Single-use plastic plates

* Plastic straws

* Cotton bud sticks made of plastic

* Plastic balloon sticks

* Oxo-degradable plastics and food containers and expanded polystyrene cups

Member states will have to achieve a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029, and plastic bottles will have to contain at least 25% of recycled content by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

The Directive will also strengthen the application of the polluter pays principle, in particular for tobacco, by introducing extended responsibility for producers. This new regime will also apply to fishing gear, to ensure that manufacturers, and not fishermen, bear the costs of collecting nets lost at sea.

In addition, the legal text agreed stipulates that labelling on the negative environmental impact of throwing cigarettes with plastic filters in the street should be mandatory, as well as for other products such as plastic cups, wet wipes and sanitary napkins.

The Directive now needs to be approved by the Council of Ministers before it enters EU law later this year. Member States will have two years to transfer the legislation into national law.

The Press Release (European Commission) is here.

I will load the Directive (once in law) into subscribers’ Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists.

Waste Storage and Shipment (UK Brexit)

Yesterday DEFRA issued a reminder to companies to check their waste movements and environmental licences and exemptions (as respects waste).

This reminder is here.

If you or your business collects, transports or stores waste that is due to be exported to the EU, your existing permit or licence still applies and you are expected to continue to meet its conditions.

Given anticipated disruption at some ports, you should make a plan to minimise any impacts on your business:

• review your own capacity and how long you can store waste on your site

• identify alternative storage facilities that could accept your waste

• assess if there are other export routes to market that avoid impacted ports

• identify any alternative recovery or disposal routes for your waste

• contact your haulage operator to discuss any potential changes to transport plans

If you do change your export route, you will also need to change your export notification. This must be agreed by the UK and overseas competent authority. In England, you can contact the Environment Agency for advice, or contact the equivalent competent authority if you are in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

If you have to keep additional waste on your site for longer than expected, you will need to consider any resulting environmental risks and take steps to keep these properly controlled.

Your contingency plans need to be compatible with the requirements on your permit. In England, if you are unable to make adequate contingency plans you should contact the Environment Agency for advice.

DEFRA waste consultations (UK)

On 18th February, DEFRA (the UK Environment Ministry) opened up a series of consultations on proposals to change the way waste is managed –

(1) reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system – the proposals will affect producers of packaging, and plastic packaging, at all stages of the chain – here.

(2) introducing a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – the Scottish Government had launched a consultation for distinct elements of a DRS, this consultation closed on 25 September 2018 – the proposals relate to drinks containers – here.

(3) introducing a plastic packaging tax – this was announced at the 2018 Budget, to apply from April 2022 on manufactured and imported plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content – here.