Simpler Recycling in England

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As you may have seen last week, the UK government has confirmed the next steps of the  Simpler Recycling reforms, that aim to make recycling easier and more effective. This only applies to England as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have their own policies that are closer aligned to the original Resources & Waste Strategy in 2018. 

These Simpler Recycling reforms require the collection of the same materials from all non-household municipal premises by 31 March 2025, households by 31 March 2026, and micro-firms by 31 March 2027. 

The main element of Simpler Recycling is that the Government will provide exemptions to allow for the collection of all dry recyclables together in one container, and food and garden waste in another. This means that local authorities and other waste collectors will provide a minimum of three bins to households: residual, dry recyclable, and organic waste. There will be a minimum fortnightly collection of residual waste, alongside a weekly food waste collection. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that all local authorities will go down the commingled route though. There will be a requirement for “efficient and effective service” that means local authorities will get funding from Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) based on this criteria. We don’t know what that will be as yet, but it is likely to take into account the social demographics of an area, the type of buildings being collected from as well as how the recycling is collected, and fingers crossed the quality of material collected too. The thinking is that if commingled meets the “efficient and effective service” then it will be given the modelled cost from EPR (EPR doesn’t necessarily cover all costs of collection from households but will be modelled under this criteria).  

The scope of the reforms has been expanded to include non-domestic premises such as places of worship, penal institutes, charity shops, residential hostels, and premises used for public meetings. It is also planned that the Digital Waste Tracking service, to be introduced from April 2025, will record the types of waste collected and which waste is being co-collected under Simpler Recycling, improving data on recycling services. 

The government plans to introduce regulations as part of the new Simpler Recycling legislation before Parliament’s summer recess, which would suggest this is likely to become law whether there is a General Election or not.  

According to Defra, this legislation complements regulations for the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging and the Deposit Return Scheme for drink containers. 

By 31 March 2027, all recyclable waste streams (excluding garden waste) will be required to be recycled by all households, businesses, and non-domestic premises. 

Defra is holding a briefing on this as part of its Waste Management Forum on Thursday 16 May at 10am. Register here if you are interested.