As the UK seeks to move towards its vision of a circular economy, which includes keeping resources in use for as long as possible, minimising waste and promoting resource efficiency, we consider the key changes set out in the recent Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 and what these mean for the waste industry.
What are the Regulations?
The Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 20201, transpose the EU's 2020 Circular Economy Package ("2020 CEP") in England and Wales and come into force on 1 October 2020.
The 2020 CEP sets out the European Commission's planned initiatives for a framework to make sustainable products, services and business models the norm. The Regulations amend the following:
- Environmental Protection Act 1990, Part 2 (waste on land);
- End-of-Life Vehicles Regulations 2003;
- Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005;
- Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013;
- Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016; and
- Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011.
What are the key changes?
Most of the substantive changes under the 2020 CEP affect the Waste Framework Directive 2008 and the Landfill Directive 1999 as follows:
- To prevent waste generation and to monitor and assess the implementation of those measures. These measures must be included in waste prevention programmes.
- To require more detail on the circumstances under which separate collection of waste is not necessary to ensure that waste is prepared for re-use, recycling or other recovery operations2.
- To ensure waste collected separately for re-use or recycling is not incinerated or landfilled, except where waste resulting from subsequent treatment operations of the separately collected waste is incinerated and this is the best environmental outcome in accordance with the waste hierarchy3.
- A requirement for hazardous waste that is mixed unlawfully to be separated where that is technically feasible. Amendments to the Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005 will require hazardous waste that has been mixed lawfully to be treated at a permitted facility4 and will only prohibit mixing waste oils where mixing would impede its regeneration or recycling5.
- To require additional matters to be included in waste management plans6 and in waste prevention programmes when they are established7.
- To require certain undertakings to keep records of the quantity of materials and products resulting from the treatment of hazardous waste. Specifically, relevant waste operations operating under a registered waste exemption will be required to record, retain and submit specific information on hazardous waste and the products and materials resulting from its treatment8 and sites that treat hazardous waste under an environmental permit will be required, under existing permit conditions, to record, retain and submit this information to the relevant regulators.
The upcoming changes and the focus on the circular economy provide a key window of opportunity for businesses to seize on fresh innovation and ideas, especially in these challenging times. With the recent focus on green finance from some of the world's largest banks and investors, this is clearly an opportunity for businesses not only to focus on ensuring their compliance with the upcoming Regulations but to reflect on new long-term opportunities to capture the growth potential whilst they prepare to make this leap.
Importantly, industry guidance on the changes made by the Regulations will be published in due course, following which we will provide a further update. In the meantime, businesses should familiarise themselves with the key changes above.
2. Regulation 15(7) and (8)
3. The EP Regulations 2016 are amended to introduce a new statutory permit condition for waste incinerators and landfill operators that restricts waste paper, metal, plastic and glass separately collected for re-use or recycling from being incinerated or landfilled (regulation 21(5) and (6)(b)).
4. Regulation 9(5)
5. Regulation 9(4)
6. Regulations 15(6) and (10)
7. Regulation 15(3)-(5) and (10)
8. Regulation 21(3)
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.