Plastics Update (UK)

The UK Government has been consulting on “the plastics problem”. This consultation has just concluded. The document is here (it is mostly the consultation responses) :

The government response is (stated in the document) :

(1) The government is developing a new strategy on resources and waste that looks ahead at opportunities outside the EU. This will set out the detail of how the government will meet the ambitions for resources and waste that are set out in the Clean Growth Strategy, the Industrial Strategy and the 25 Year Environment Plan.

(2) The aim of the strategy will be to make the UK “a world leader in resource efficiency and resource productivity”, and “increase competitiveness”. It will set out how the government will work towards ambitions of doubling resource productivity and zero avoidable waste by 2050, maximising the value extracted from resources and minimising waste and the associated negative environmental impacts.

(3) The strategy will be published this year, as will a consultation on the reform of the packaging waste regulations and a deposit return scheme for beverage containers.

Please note : household waste recycling is already adrift of the 2020 recycling targets, and I posted earlier about the EU waste law changes (enacted, changing existing EU waste directives, including the packaging and packaging waste directive, with forward dates – the EU Combined Cycle law) that increase recycling targets further.

Single-use Plastics (Global)

Various initiatives and legal instruments are already in place or announced :

NOTE : I will update this post online (please keep a note, to check online, as you will not receive an email)

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Ireland, UK, France, Canadian cities, US cities, Mexico local bans, Brazil local bans, etc – plastic bags – see August 2017 roundup (Reuters) – here

Kenya plastic bag ban – here

France ban, Scotland (proposal), UK (consultation later in 2018), Costa Rica (proposal) – cotton buds, cutlery, other plastic products

England, Scotland, Wales – microbeads ban (certain products)

EU Strategy on Plastics (separate post) – includes a new proposed Directive on Port Reception Facilities

EU proposals on 10 single-use plastics bans (separate post)

UK consultation (concluded) on tax measures

UNEP (at UNEA-3) non-binding Resolution Marine Litter and Microplastics

China ban on imports of plastic waste for recycling from developed countries (I posted about this)

Extensions to Packaging Producer Responsibility (UK)

Anna McMorrin has today (13th June) introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill to extend the existing Packaging Producer Responsibility arrangements.

Information is set out here – LabourList.

I will update this post, as further information is forthcoming (including the Bill wording). So please make a note to return to this post online, as an email will not be sent out.

NB: Ten Minute Rule Bills are a type of Private Members’ Bills. To become law, a Private Members’ Bill must be taken up by the Government.

Waste Classification (EU)

The European Commission has issued new technical guidance on the classification of waste. This guidance is here.

Subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists will have this guidance added (ENV Waste). Some will already have requested it, and had it inserted.

Individual Member States may also issue local guidance from time to time.

Note : this guidance is without prejudice to the interpretation which may be given by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), and the views expressed cannot prejudge the position that the Commission might take before the CJEU.

Single-use plastics : new rules proposed (EU)

The European Commission is proposing new EU-wide rules to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear.

The proposed new rules (if agreed) will introduce :

(1) Plastic ban in certain products: Where alternatives are readily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market. The ban will apply to plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons which will all have to be made exclusively from more sustainable materials instead. Single-use drinks containers made with plastic will only be allowed on the market if their caps and lids remain attached;

(2) Consumption reduction targets: Member States will have to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drinks cups. They can do so by setting national reduction targets, making alternative products available at the point of sale, or ensuring that single-use plastic products cannot be provided free of charge;

(3) Obligations for producers: Producers will help cover the costs of waste management and clean-up, as well as awareness raising measures for food containers, packets and wrappers (such as for crisps and sweets), drinks containers and cups, tobacco products with filters (such as cigarette butts), wet wipes, balloons, and lightweight plastic bags. The industry will also be given incentives to develop less polluting alternatives for these products;

(4) Collection targets: Member States will be obliged to collect 90% of single-use plastic drinks bottles by 2025, for example through deposit refund schemes;

(5) Labelling Requirements: Certain products will require a clear and standardised labelling which indicates how waste should be disposed, the negative environmental impact of the product, and the presence of plastics in the products. This will apply to sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons;

(6) Awareness-raising measures: Member States will be obliged to raise consumers’ awareness about the negative impact of littering of single-use plastics and fishing gear as well as about the available re-use systems and waste management options for all these products.

The Commission’s proposals will now go to the European Parliament and Council for adoption.

NOTE : some EU member states already have legislation in place or planned, for part or all of these measures.

See here, for the European Commission press release.

Reminder : updated Blog Posts

I updated the Waste (EU) post with an important change. The Waste (UK) post is also updated.

Please make sure to note when I write within a post, that I will update that post.

Post updates are not notified by email, and I don’t issue posts notifying which posts I updated. So keep a record to check the post that’s of interest itself on the platform.

Waste Crime (UK – E&W)

DEFRA is conducting a consultation on proposals to tackle crime and poor performance in the waste sector, and introduce a new fixed penalty for the householder waste duty of care. The consultation closes on 26th March 2018, and applies to England and Wales. The consultation document is here.

One part of this consultation proposes changes to the waste exemption regime (set out in Schedule 3 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 (as amended)).

Waste exemptions are exemptions from the need for an environmental permit for waste recovery and disposal operations. Since exemptions were first introduced in 1994, the government has made extensive use of them (within the EU rules) to provide a light-touch form of regulation for small-scale, low risk waste management activities.

In England and Wales, there are 59 types of exempt waste operations available for the use (U), treatment (T), storage (S) and disposal (D) of waste. Similar provisions exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland (but note the exact exemptions are different).

Apart from exemption T11 for the treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), it is free to register one or more exemptions at a site. The registration is valid for three years and then automatically expires, and can be re-registered or “renewed” for another three years. Each exemption has conditions setting out the types and quantities of waste that can be managed. The conditions also set out what treatments can be carried out, how the waste must be stored, and which environmental protection measures must be complied with.

Registering an exemption is not the same as applying for and receiving an environmental permit. A permit amounts to “permission” from the regulators to carry a set of particular activities. In contrast, by registering an exemption, the establishment or undertaking is self- certifying that they have read and understood the conditions of the exempt activity and will comply with them. At the point of registration, the regulators do not assess whether the criteria defined in the exemption are met.

The proposals set out for consultation focus on four areas: (pages 40 to 67 of the consultant document)

1. Prohibiting the use of waste exemptions in specified circumstances;

2. Making changes to the ten waste exemptions identified as being associated with the greatest levels of non-compliance and illegality;

3. Requiring additional information to support effective regulation of the regime;

4. Improving the process to register or continue an exemption.

Use the resources set out here to respond to this consultation.

Subscribers (England and Wales) to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists will receive an Email Alert when the EPR changes.