Government issue reminder to waste industry to review plans in the event of a no-deal Brexit

A container ship that exports recycled materials

The UK Government has issued a reminder to companies who export waste from the UK to review their contingency plans in case of disruption at ports, in the event of a no deal Brexit.  

With or without a deal, all existing consents which authorise the export of hazardous waste to any EU country will remain valid when the UK leaves the EU, and firms that export waste from the UK will see no change in the process that govern the export of ‘green-list’ wastes to the EU, said Defra.  


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However, in the event of no deal, changes to border controls could impact on some waste exports, and while disruptions at container ports are not expected, there may be delays at ports which operate ‘roll on’, ‘roll off’ systems.  

The Port of Dover is expected to be the most affected and steps are being taken to reduce the impact.  

Waste exports using the Eurotunnel may also be disrupted 

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “Our landmark Resources and Waste Strategy makes clear that we are committed to dealing with more of our waste in the UK and increasing recycling. But in the short term, we have taken important action to ensure any disruption caused by a no-deal Brexit can be minimised. 

“This government has been absolutely clear on our commitment to deliver a Brexit deal negotiated with the EU. But the government is preparing for any eventuality and we need our businesses to do the same.” 

If you or your company 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. 

With disruption anticipated at some ports, you should plan to reduce any impacts on your business, including: 

  • Reviewing your own capacity and how long you can store waste on your site 
  • Identifying alternative storage facilities that could accept your waste 
  • Assessing if there are other export routes to market that avoid impacted ports 
  • Identifying any alternative recovery or disposal routes for your waste 
  • Contacting your haulage operator to discuss any potential changes to transport plans. 

If you change your export route, you will also need to change your export notification, which must be agreed by the UK and overseas competent authority. 

In England, you can contact the Environment Agency for advice, or you can contact the equivalent 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 action to keep these controlled.  

Your contingency plans need to be compatible with the requirements on your permit.  

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