SEPA STRATEGY WELCOME, BUT CONSISTENCY IN ENFORCEMENT ACROSS UK CRUCIAL

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The Recycling Association has welcomed the new One Planet Prosperity-Our Regulatory Strategy from SEPA but warned that it is essential that regulators across the UK enforce the rules consistently.

In the strategy, SEPA promised that it will continue to focus on waste crime through partnership working with other enforcement agencies to disrupt organised crime.

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It also said it will implement its new Enforcement Policy, taking a more proportionate and effective approach. SEPA will also start to phase in the practical use of new fixed and variable monetary penalties and enforcement undertakings.

The Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin said: “It is good that SEPA have set out its new strategy, and I welcome the partnership work with other enforcement agencies to disrupt organised crime.

“Organised crime not only has an impact on the legitimate businesses that lose trade to illegal operators, but it can also unfairly damage the reputation of an entire industry. Members of The Recycling Association will always support ways to crack down on illegal operators.

“But The Recycling Association would also like to see SEPA work with the other UK environment agencies to ensure a consistent approach when it comes to exports. It remains the case that guidance on the amount of out throw allowed on exports is unclear, but legitimate exporters can still face prosecution and huge legal bills from the environment agencies on this guidance.

“It is important that we distinguish between serious organised waste crime and less significant and inadvertent breaches of waste shipment regulations. Increasingly, our members are finding themselves facing prosecutions for breaches of very unspecific rules. For example, what is the maximum permitted out throw in a cargo of paper for recycling? Is it zero %? Is it 1.5%? We simply don’t know, so how can we face prosecution if we don’t know the rules? This is where the UK enforcement agencies must work together with The Recycling Association and our members to help us understand our statutory obligations. We are a long established industry that is a credit to the UK. We should not be labelled as criminals.

“If the UK agencies were prepared to accept the EN643 standard for paper, and the Chinese maximum of 1.5% out throw, then this is something that The Recycling Association members could work with. So we call on SEPA to take the ‘proportionate and effective approach’ it has suggested on enforcement, and work with the other UK environment agencies to implement these standards.

“We also await the detail on the new fixed and variable monetary penalties to understand if this might impact on our members.”