No more guidance on when commingled collections are allowed will be published by Defra, it has announced.
In a tweet in response to @MeditativeDust, Defra resource, atmosphere & sustainability director Colin Church said: “We don’t plan to publish further Government guidance on TEEP in England.”
@MeditativeDust We don’t plan to publish further Government guidance on TEEP in England.
— Colin Church (@DrColinChurch) January 17, 2014
Many in the recycling and resource industry were expectant that Defra would issue further information on when commingled collections would be “technically, environmentally and economically practicable” following a clarification letter sent by previous Environment Minister Lord de Mauley in October.
In the letter, Lord de Mauley wrote: “It appears that some local authorities may be taking the view that commingled collections of paper, glass, plastic and metal waste stream will remain permissible in all circumstances after 1 January 2015. I therefore thought it would be helpful now to remind local authorities of the effect of the regulations.
“From 1 January 2015, an establishment or undertaking which collects paper, metal, plastic or glass must do so by way of separate collection. These requirements apply where separate collection:
a) is necessary, in effect to provide high quality recyclates, and
b) is technically, environmentally and economically practicable.
“Where waste paper, metal, plastic or glass has been collected separately all reasonable steps must be taken to keep that stream separate from other waste streams wherever this is necessary to provide high quality recyclates.
“It is clear that the intention is that these requirements should represent a high hurdle. I am aware that commingled metal and plastic are relatively easy to separate at a MRF. However, at present many of our existing MRFs struggle to keep glass shards out of the paper stream. In addition, many MRFs produce low quality mixed glass which needs further sorting and can be uneconomic to re-smelt. I look to local authorities actively to address these problems, by the effective implementation of the new regulations and by tackling problems with operating practices.”
In the letter he warned councils that they should ensure they are positioning themselves to meet their legal duties from 2015 particularly if they plan to move away from separate collections or include glass within commingled collections.
He advised them to consult a lawyer if necessary and keep a “clear audit trail given the potential for legal challenge”.