Environment Agency to enforce quality recycling from domestic and commercial collections


The Environment Agency has said that it will be responsible for ensuring quality material for recycling is collected from both domestic and commercial sources.

In a briefing note, the Environment Agency said that from January 2015, new regulations will require the ‘separate collection’ of paper, plastics, metals and glass for recycling with the aim of improving quality.


The Environment Agency will be responsible for enforcing these regulations in England.

Under the European Union’s Waste Framework Directive, the UK must take measures to promote high quality recycling including a specific requirement by 1 January 2015 to set up separate collections of paper, plastic, metal and glass as a minimum.

Collectors of these wastes must collect these materials separately, unless it is not necessary to provide high quality recyclates, or it is not technically, environmentally or economically practicable (TEEP).

The briefing note said: “The requirement applies to any establishment or undertaking collecting waste. This includes commercial waste as well as household waste. The requirement to set up separate collections of paper, plastic, metals and glass is implemented in England and Wales by Regulation 13 of the 2011 Waste Regulations, as amended in 2012, alongside other duties stemming from the directive – the waste hierarchy (Regulation 12) and the duty not to remix waste (Regulation 14).

“The purpose of Regulation 13 is to improve the subsequent quality of recycled material by reducing contamination on collection. This should increase the total quality, quantity and value of recyclates produces across sites and the UK. This will help to achieve the UK’s recycling targets, improve the environment, make better use of natural resources and help the economy.”

As well as enforcing the regulations, the Environment Agency said that it is working with Defra and WRAP to develop a risk-based regime for regulation.

It also clarified that mixed dry recyclables must be collected separately, not commingled and that they must not be remixed later.

Commingling will only be allowed after 2015 where it provides high quality recyclates or where separate collection is not practicable.