Industry figures have welcomed the ‘ambition’ of the government’s recently unveiled Circular Economy Package but have expressed concern that further measures may be needed.
The UK, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland governments published their Circular Economy Package yesterday, 30 July (see letsrecycle.com story).
It includes targets to recycle 65% of municipal waste by 2035 and to have no more than 10% municipal waste going to landfill by 2035, as set out in the EU’s Circular Economy Package.
Dr Simon Ellin, chief executive of the UK’s Recycling Association, told letsrecycle.com: “We were advocates of the ambitious European CEP originally, so wholly welcome its adoption by the UK – it signals the governments ambitions for our industry which is encouraging.
“The challenge is going to be delivering it in a post-Covid, post-Brexit UK. The glaring hole in the UK’s recycling ambitions is the lack of UK processing capacity for some materials, notably paper and plastics.
“There are so many teeth in the circular cog that need to grow at the same rate. Good luck though, we are big fans of ambition and innovation.”
The EU Circular Economy Package was approved in April 2018 (see letsrecycle.com story) but will no longer apply in the UK following Brexit.
The government has been keen to stress how the Circular Economy Package builds on its Resources and Waste Strategy.
John Scanlon, chief executive officer of SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, said: “We welcome the UK’s continuing commitment to maintain, and in places exceed, the ambitions of our European neighbours in the area of resources and waste.
“The target to recycle 65% of municipal waste by 2035 is particularly important as this encompasses not only household waste but also waste from businesses that is similar in composition to household waste, and which is essential to meeting recycling targets.
“We look forward to feeding into the government’s forthcoming series of consultations on consistent collections, a deposit return scheme and extended producer responsibility, as it is the fine detail of these reforms that is key to achieving its ambition of a more circular economy.”
As part of the Resources and Waste Strategy, formal second stage consultations on the three areas of proposed waste and recycling legislation look set to take place in early 2021 (see letsrecycle.com story).
The original transposition deadline for the legislation was 5 July 2020. Defra told letsrecycle.com there had been unavoidable delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is reassuring to see that the UK will remain aligned with an important package of measures”
Responding to yesterday’s announcement, a spokesperson for the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) said: “Earlier this week, CIWM went on record stating that Defra should provide clarity on the UK government’s intentions with regards to the EU Circular Economy package given the passing of the transposition deadline.
“We are pleased, therefore, to see the joint statement issued today by the four UK governments.
“While the devil is always in the detail, and CIWM will be scrutinising the list of transposition measures proposed, it is reassuring to see that the UK will remain aligned with an important package of measures that will shape resources and waste policy across Europe for years to come.
“We also look forward to working with the UK governments to ensure that the UK genuinely does lead the way ‘in driving global resource efficiency’ in the future.”
While the announcement has been broadly welcomed, some specialist recyclers have expressed concerns about the omission of measures to deal with waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).
IT services company 3stepIT’s chief commercial officer Jason Skidmore said: “This announcement is a welcome acknowledgement that the circular economy is crucial to economic resilience and positive climate action.
“Plastic has taken centre stage in the climate debate and its pleasing to see the government try to tackle this issue, but electronic waste – the world’s fastest growing waste stream – is a glaring omission.
“The UK has consistently missed its targets for electronic waste collection, and this should be an opportunity for the government to tackle this issue by applying the principles of the circular economy.”
Today (July 31), the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) – which represents council recycling officers – also highlighted changes in yesterday’s circular economy package which might affect local authorities. This includes requirements to ensure that separately collected waste materials are not incinerated or landfilled, the separation of illegally mixed hazardous waste and new requirements for record keeping relating to the treatment of hazardous waste.