Government wins Judicial Review into sorting of recycling


A consortium of companies and organisations that sought to end commingled collections of material has lost its battle in a Judicial Review.

In his judgment, Mr. Justice Hickinbottom dismissed the case brought by the claimants who had argued that by allowing local authorities to decide themselves whether to introduce separate collections of materials, Defra has unlawfully failed to implement the revised Waste Framework Directive.


The Judicial Review was brought by Ardagh Glass, DS Smith Paper, Novelis UK, Palm Recycling, Smurfit Kappa and UK Recyclate and these were represented by Anthony Collins Solicitors. The consortium is now considering whether to make an appeal. Although Justice Hickinbottom also confirmed that he saw no justification for referring the decision to the European Court.

In a statement, Anthony Collins Solicitors partner Hilary Harrison said: “Our clients sought a Judicial Review because it felt that the Waste (Amendments) Regulations 2012 did not accurately represent the EU Waste Framework Directive in UK law and was negatively affecting the quality of recycled material from UK households.

“The Judge presiding over the case has ruled in favour of Defra and the Welsh Ministers, with the decision that the correct transposition of EU law allows for commingled collection.

“The purpose of this Judicial Review was to provide clarity for local authorities across the UK in regard to current recycling processes. It is essential that recycling be kept at the top of the local government agenda in order to ensure that as much waste as possible is correctly processed.

“Despite the ruling, our client still feels that commingling is not the most efficient or effective method of collecting waste, and at this stage is considering appropriate next actions.”

The judgment was welcomed by CIWM chief executive Steve Lee. He said: “This case has been useful in highlighting the issue of quality recycling and bringing it to the top of the agenda. CIWM has always maintained there is no one-size-fits-all solution and that the decision regarding the best way to collect recyclables should rest with the local authorities who provide the services. The decision also brings a welcome end to  a period of uncertainty for local authorities.”

Environmental Services Association director general Barry Dennis said: “The ESA has always believed that both the Directive and the revised Defra regulations recognise that decisions over local collection methods are complex and local discretion over the format of recycling collections is needed to ensure that the Directive’s objectives are met. We are therefore pleased that the Judge, having examined the matter in great depth, has taken the same view.

“ESA members can now get on with the challenge of working with local authority customers to select the most appropriate collection system locally. This is vital if we are to continue to make significant increases in recycling rates, so that as much of our waste as possible is returned to productive use.”