Reformed regime for scrap metal licensing takes effect

The full requirements of the Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act, as recently revised by the government, now apply to scrap traders, after the end of a temporary licensing period on December 1. The new regime brings significant changes to scrap metal recycling, Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com) reports.

The law covers England and Wales, and makes it a requirement for a scrap metal dealer to obtain a licence to trade from their local council. Firms registering with the authorities will also be subject to more stringent background checks.

With the intention of curbing the trade for stolen scrap metal, the law has been effect since October, when a now-expired two month temporary licensing period to register with a local authority was granted to scrap traders. The legislation means that metal can now only be bought by scrap dealers with a crossed cheque or via electronic transfer, while the identity of material sellers must now also be recorded.

Such a major change in aluminium and copper recycling has been welcomed by the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), representatives of the UK’s licensed scrap recycling trade. However, although the body said that potential outlets for stolen scrap would be limited and ‘unscrupulous’ traders exposed by the new legislation, the police, local authorities and Environment Agency needed to robustly enforce the requirements, in order to prevent licensed operators continuing to be undermined by illegal trade.

BMRA director general Ian Hetherington commented: “It is imperative that the new Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act is enforced with vigour. It will be a challenge for local authorities and police due to pressures on resources and decline in the focus on metal theft. However, the BMRA will work closely with both the police and councils to ensure that this is implemented properly.”

The latest Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act is far from the only recent piece of legislation to affect the industry for copper and aluminium recycling, with the aim of eradicating the trade in stolen metal. A mere 12 months earlier, the Legal Aid and Sentencing of Offenders (LASPO) Act was passed, banning trading in cash by scrap dealers.

Indeed, the Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act closes a loophole in the LASPO Act that had enabled the continued payment for scrap by itinerant traders, in response to industry concerns that legitimate trade would be undermined as a result.

The latest Act coming fully into effect follows other good news for this part of UK recycling, Home Office figures released on November 28 having shown a decline in occurrences of metal theft across the year ending March 2013. 61,349 incidences of metal theft were recorded during that period, with the final quarter January to March 2013 figure of 12,076 comparing well to the 20,151 seen in the first quarter, from April to June 2012.

Waste prevention plan launched by Welsh government

Not content with delivering a superior recycling performance to England in recent times, Wales has also launched its waste prevention plan earlier than its neighbour, in what should be firmly positive news for UK recycling, Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com) reports.

The launch, which took place in Cardiff on December 3, further signals the commitment of the Welsh government to a target of zero waste by 2050, with the plan setting out how the life of products can be extended by Welsh households and businesses. It should be of interest to any business in Wales currently recycling old computers, although the plan also makes clear an aim to reduce household and commercial food, paper and plastic packaging waste by 1.2 per cent annually until 2050.

Another of the plan’s stated targets by 2050 is a 1.4 per cent cut in industrial, construction and demolition waste, after they were subject to public consultation. In addition, it is intended that the repair, reuse and resale of everyday items will be encouraged, and separate collections of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) carried out.

The programme was launched at Welsh brewery Brains’ Terra Nova bar in Cardiff Bay by Minister for Natural Resources and Food Alun Davies, who said that the plan’s main objective was the decoupling of waste generation from economic growth. This, he said, would allow for a reduction in waste among households and businesses, alongside cost savings.

Meeting the Minister at the event were representatives from Brains and independent wholesaler Castell Howell, two firms that have worked alongside the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to prevent the entrance of food waste into their supply chain at 120 pubs and restaurants.

Mr Davies commented: “This is part of a much wider cross governmental approach not only with waste but a much wider economic focus on how we use resources. The fundamental ambition we wish to give is to create the conditions for a circular economy in Wales. We not only want to develop the size of our waste ambitions but also we say that waste is a resource that can be used again and again.”

Although Wales’ most recent overall waste recycling rate of 52 per cent compared favourably to England’s 43.2 per cent, the minister described competition with the rest of the UK as “unfair”, given that recycling and prevention targets were part of a wider initiative across the EU.

The Welsh waste prevention programme restates targets the 2010 ‘Towards Zero Waste’ initiative had already set out, in addition to complying with the EU Waste Framework Directive, which demands that member states develop waste prevention mandates of their own by December 12.

With Scotland having also released its Zero Waste Plan, much interest doubtless surrounds the publication of England’s own waste prevention programme, following criticism of the consultation paper in August. The leading business waste specialist, Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com), will keep its clients updated on the very latest developments.

Conservative MP calls for BIS to assume recycling policy responsibility

Laura Sandys MP, the chair of the Conservatives’ 2020 Productivity and Efficiency Commission, has suggested that responsibility for policies on UK recycling, waste and resource efficiency should be passed to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), many of Collect and Recycle’s (https://www.collectandrecycle.com) business clients should be interested to read.

As part of her role on the Commission, Ms Sandys is set to publish a report in January providing Chancellor George Osborne with recommendations on how the UK economy can be made more resource efficient. Responsibility for the UK’s waste recycling policy presently rests with Defra, but the Commission will suggest that secondary materials could be better integrated into supply chains if this policy area is taken over by BIS.

Ms Sandys added while speaking at the launch of the Practical Path to Resource Efficiency report that another recommendation of the Commission would be a ‘Remade in Britain’ campaign showcasing how the UK economy has used secondary materials and recycling. She said that it was with this ‘Remade in Britain’ theme in mind that a BIS unit could be created with responsibility for the development of resource efficient business.

Also set to be recommended by the Commission, those recycling old computers and other materials may be interested to know, is the drawing up of a new metric of profitability by the Treasury and BIS, on the basis of GDP failing to reflect the performance of businesses.

The Conservative MP for South Thanet commented: “This is a country that imports a lot of resources. How are we going to compete therefore on price but also on resource availability? The Government hasn’t really thought about resource efficiency as we have traditionally always been able to go out and buy things when we want them.”

“But my message to the Treasury is that there is a huge risk to our supply chain,” she added, stating that she had spoken to Mr Osborne about the need to drive down costs to make business more internationally competitive. She said that there was a need to “start thinking differently”, with metrics on profitability not having been looked at.

This was why, she added, her report recommended that productivity and profitability are regarded as “key metrics” by the government. Ms Sandys furthermore pointed to the current UK remanufacturing sector as being worth around £5 billion, stating that it had the potential to become a £10 billion industry.

All of these recommendations are likely to be of interest to the many organisations taking advantage of such services as scrap metal recycling and cardboard collections from Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com). Whatever your needs as far as business waste is concerned, we are committed to providing the most compliant, efficient and affordable service – doing our bit to ensure a more resource efficient UK.

Defra should support industry, says waste sector

A few weeks ago here at Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com), we drew attention to complaints from the waste collections industry about the recent letter sent to them by resource minister Dan Rogerson, suggesting that his department would be scaling down waste activities. Now, waste sector trade associations have come together as one to again urge Defra to back industry.

In the November 22 letter carrying the signatures of the Environmental Services Association’s (ESA) director general as well as the chief executives of the Renewable Energy Association (REA), Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), Anaerobic Digestion & Biogas Association (ADBA) and the Resource Association, there was a warning of already “stalled” progress in such areas as waste prevention and waste crime.

The correspondence follows Mr Rogerson’s initial letter to waste recycling representatives on November 6, in which he had informed them of a reduction in Defra’s waste management activities from 2014/15. Despite describing waste as a priority for him, Mr Rogerson said that the near future would not see the  development of any new policies on commercial and industrial waste or energy from waste by the government.

In their joint response, the associations described waste as “a valuable source of materials, energy and nutrients.” The associations said that even an adverse economic climate had not prevented strong growth in the industry in recent years, and that there was potential in the future for further green growth to be driven and jobs created.

The UK recycling representatives continued: “As organisations representing responsible operators and professionals in the sector we are concerned that progress in improving resource management in England had already stalled in a number of areas even before the Minister’s recent announcement.

“However, rather than simply criticise the Government, and recognising the resource constraints in his Department, we would like to offer to work closely with Defra to help turn this situation around.” Flagged by the group as areas that needed to be addressed were collection methods, waste crime, commercial and industrial waste, waste prevention and hazardous waste removal.

The statement continued: “We have found that close and consultative working achieves positive results, and therefore we would like to see this applied to the key areas identified above, so that the scarce resources available to Defra can make the most impact.”

But it was not the only letter sent to the minister by a representative of the group over the last week or so, with ESA chairman David Palmer-Jones having also bemoaned the failure of regulatory body the Environment Agency to enforce waste and resources regulations, as he said was undermining legitimate work.

What does your business make of Defra’s scaling back of work in the sector and the trade associations’ response? Whatever your answer, and irrespective of your company’s present business waste requirements, you can rest assured that those needs will be catered for by the comprehensive, cost-effective and compliant services of Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com).

No need for heightened EU waste targets, government argues

The EU Waste Framework Directive’s proposed changes to statutory waste recycling targets have failed to win the support of the UK government, Collect and Recycle’s (https://www.collectandrecycle.com) many business clients may be interested to read.

In its response to the consultation that the European Commission had launched on the review of European Waste Management Targets, the government claimed that sector-wide instability and uncertainty about investment opportunities could arise from the framework being amended.

The current EU directives demand that member states reach a 50 per cent target for the recycling and reuse of their household waste by 2020, in addition to recovering 60 per cent of all packaging waste since 2008 and decreasing the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill by 2016.

But the need to alter EU-wide targets on waste collections has been questioned by the government, which has suggested that there is “insufficient evidence” that extra targets could be met by member states in the current economic climate.

The consultation ran from June to September this year, and sought the opinions of government, local councils, industry specialists and members of the public on whether waste targets needed to be adjusted in accordance with the aspirations of the Commission, as stated in the 2011 Resource Efficiency Roadmap.

Comment was also sought from waste services stakeholders on the amount of waste that is able to sent for incineration being capped, as well as on targets being set for new waste streams like wood, textiles and food waste.

In summarising its conclusion, the UK government acknowledged the “huge difference” made to EU-wide domestic waste regulation by European targets and legislation, stating that the Landfill Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive had been beneficial to wider UK recycling.

“However”, it added, “we are aware that in poor economic times, a number of member states are not currently on course to meet the 2020 targets. The European Commission should find ways to help member states implement existing targets before setting new targets.”

Nor was the government in favour of plastics or food waste to landfill being banned, unless the social costs were seen to be outweighed by the benefits. It added that it lacked “sufficiently robust modelling evidence”  for the estimation of packaging recycling rates after 2017.

The government concluded with a call to reduce the “regulatory burden” on businesses, improve the compatibility of data across member states and allow flexibility for such local solutions as the Waste Prevention Programme within the wider EU framework.

Further developments in relation to the consultation will be tracked by ourselves here at Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com). But for now, it’s easy for all manner of UK organisations to contribute to efforts to reduce business waste, by taking advantage of our highly regarded national recycling service.

Wales reaches 52 per cent recycling target

England may be struggling to remain on track to meet its own EU-set waste collections targets, but there have been no such issues for Wales, Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com) can report, with the news that its 52 per cent statutory recycling target has now been achieved.

The Welsh government opted to mark the milestone by waiving fines for local authorities failing to meet their own targets, on the basis that they participated in the Collaborative Change Programme, which gives specialist recycling advice to councils.

The amount of waste recycled, reused or composted by the nation between April 2012 and March 2013 was confirmed by the publication of the figures in a municipal waste management report on November 14.

Achievement of the 52 per cent target had already been indicated by the release in August of provisional data. Waste recycling figures for the first quarter of this year also confirmed the recycling of 50 per cent of the country’s waste.

2013 saw Wales produce 1.55 million tonne of municipal waste, with the nation preparing 0.8 tonne of that for recycling or reuse. There has also been a continued decline in the amount of residual municipal waste disposal via landfill or recovery, now amounting to 0.7 million tonnes per year.

The news paints a more positive picture for UK recycling than the situation in England, where the recycling rate was just 43.2 per cent for 2012/13, 0.2 per cent higher than the previous year – an “insufficient” rate of increase, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has stated, if the 50 per cent EU recycling target is to be met by 2020.

Alun Davies, the Welsh government’s minister for natural resources and food, confirmed that authorities missing their targets would not face punishment this year, in the wake of the country’s overall target being met.

He commented: “Thanks to the efforts of Welsh householders and local authorities, we are now recycling more than half our municipal waste.  In the last decade the amount of black bin waste has decreased by more than 50 per cent, which is a significant improvement.”

“I appreciate that some of the councils that have not met their targets have nevertheless made really good progress. Powys, for example, has increased its recycling by nine percentage points on the previous year and it is this sort of progress that the Collaborative Change Programme can help Councils to achieve.”

Mr Davies signalled that local councils would continue to be supported by government in efforts to achieve a zero waste target by 2050.

The achievement of the recycling target was also hailed by chair of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, Joy Blizzard, who paid tribute to the Welsh government’s engagement and “robust policies and strategies”.

Certainly, such news can only be saluted by ourselves here at Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com), as we continue to help the rest of the UK to reach recycling targets with the help of our highly regarded waste services for businesses and organisations.

Defra cutbacks draw concern from waste sector

Key figures in waste recycling have expressed concern about new resource minister Dan Rogerson’s announcement of Defra plans to decrease its policy and funding activities in the sector, Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com) reports.

A recent letter by Mr Rogerson to members of the industry asserted that although waste was still “one of his priorities”, limited finances would force the Department to concentrate on only essential areas of work.

While the Resource Association, Environmental Services Association (ESA) and Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) all sympathised with the funding shortfall faced by the government, they warned of the adverse impact that the reduction in support could have on various areas, such as the level of waste crime and local authorities’ ability to improve recycling rates.

CIWM director Steve Lee said that the “strong progress” thus far made on recycling could be threatened by cutbacks in local authority support.

He said, in words that will doubtless find agreement among many other waste services stakeholders: “There are areas where government has to take a lead role, particularly in the interface with consumers. Local authorities are facing unprecedented budgetary pressures and while efficiency savings are essential, waste is a frontline service that doesn’t sit still.”

Mr Lee went on to highlight the pressure that councils were under to not only improve recycling rates, but also tackle food waste, take more responsibility for waste prevention and respond to the Waste Framework Directive’s requirements to increase and improve the quality of recycling.

Meanwhile, Barry Dennis, director general at the ESA, said that while the government’s resource restraints were understood by ESA Members, there was a danger of the Environment Agency’s efforts to tackle waste crime being undermined, which would be harmful to not only the environment and local communities, but also legitimate businesses.

Mr Dennis added: “Only if waste crime is kept to a minimum will ESA members be able to make the substantial investment needed to develop new facilities to recover and recycle waste properly.”

Other major figures in UK recycling to express concern over the plans included David Palmer-Jones, the ESA chairman and SITA UK chief executive who suggested that the government’s call for a greater role from the private sector would not be heeded unless “firm action” was taken in the implementation and enforcement of regulation.

Praise did come from the Resource Association’s chief executive Ray Georgeson for Mr Rogerson’s “directness and honesty”, but he also expressed concern, suggesting there was a “real danger” of a message being sent to both investors and the public that “the government is disengaging.”

But Mr Georgeson did take heart from the minister’s attempts to reassure the waste collections industry, and said that greater clarity on the MRF regulations would make “a good starting point”.

Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com) will continue to bring you the latest news relating to the sector, including the responses of major players, as we also cater for even the most specialised business waste needs with our cost-effective, efficient and compliant services.

2014/15 to see reduction in waste activities by Defra

Clients of the waste collections of Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com) may be interested to read of the new warning by recently appointed resource minister Dan Rogerson, that Defra will cut back on activities in the waste and recycling sector for 2014/15.

Although Mr Rogerson described waste as “one of his priorities” in a letter sent on November 6, he added that from next year, there would be a renewed focus from the Department on “essential” areas of work, with action being taken on issues that “only government can and must do.”

Therefore, it may not surprise those recycling old computers to hear of a likely reduction in financial support for local councils, with Mr Rogerson commenting: “Given the strong financial case for Local Authorities to realise efficiencies from their waste contracts, we will be reducing the amount of generic support we provide to them in this and related areas.”

He said that there were areas in which businesses were “better placed” to act where Defra would decrease involvement, and that there was also no intention for new policies to be developed by the Department on commercial and industrial waste or energy from waste.

Mr Rogerson wrote: “These are challenging times, and the government has had to prioritise its work to make the best of public funding. It is because of this that I am writing to you today. I regret that the first contact I will have with many of you is to inform you of reductions to our activities. However, I wish to reassure you that this area is one of my priorities.”

He continued that the reassessment of Defra’s waste management activities for 2014/15 recognised that there should be a reduction in the government’s role as the economic and commercial opportunities arising from resource efficiencies and the addressing of environmental challenges was increasingly realised by businesses. In addition, he stated, it reflected the “extreme pressure” that public funding was under, with government needing to use the resultant reduced funding to focus on key priorities.

Organisations concerned with the disposal of hazardous materials may also be disappointed by news of the scaling back of work to develop the UK’s anaerobic digestion industry, which had begun back in June 2011 with the launch and publication of its AD strategy. Defra stated that “the industries concerned” would now assume responsibility for taking work forward.

Also noted in the letter are plans for a “limited” Waste Prevention Programme once it is published before the end of the year, but the Minister stated that only the areas where action is “clearly for government” will be scrutinised.

Certainly, the statement is an honest one suggesting the need for the waste services sector to take its share of continued cutbacks in financial support. But whatever the situation in government, here at Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com), we will continue to provide our renowned UK recycling services to the very highest standard.

Recycling in England not on track to meet EU targets

The mere 0.2 per cent rise in England’s recycling rate in 2012/13 is not a sufficient rate of increase to ensure that UK meets the 50 per cent by 2020 recycling target set by the EU, Defra has said. Users of Collect and Recycle’s (https://www.collectandrecycle.com) waste services may be intrigued to read the latest annual local authority recycling statistics, which were published by the Department on November 7 and reveal a rise in England’s recycling rate from 43 per cent in 2011/12 to 43.2 per cent in 2012/13.

The revised Waste Framework Directive of the European Union set out a target to recycle 50 per cent of waste by 2020, which the UK recycling rate will not meet at its present rate of increase, as Defra admitted in its statistical release. However, an ongoing EU-level review of waste targets may make this target subject to change.

“Much variation” between the performances of various English councils was noted by Defra, with a recycling rate in excess of 50 per cent being achieved by 73 out of 352 authorities. Topping the list with a recycling rate of 66.75 per cent was Rochford district council in Essex, followed by South Oxfordshire district council and Vale of White Horse district council, with 65.32 per cent and 65.13 per cent respectively.

Looking at English councils’ collective performance, there was a 13 per cent increase over the last year in the amount of local authority managed waste (LAMW) sent to incineration with energy recovery, with this manner of disposal being used for some 5.5 million tonnes of waste in 2012/13. Meanwhile, adverse weather conditions were blamed for a 27 per cent fall in the amount of green waste sent for composting in the first quarter of 2013, compared to the previous year.

2012/13 also saw a 7 per cent rise in commingled waste collections, as a 10 per cent drop was recorded in the separate collection of glass and cans from the kerbside. The separate collection of paper and card also fell, by 6 per cent. Defra suggested a number of possible factors behind such statistics, including a change in behaviour by consumers looking to minimise waste. 22.6 million tonnes of household waste occurrences were also recorded in 2012/13, representing another decline over the last five years.

A common theme exists among the highest performing councils of a slight drop in recycling rates. For example, this year’s top ranked council, Rochford, recorded a 67.4 per cent recycling rate last year. Such a trend across UK waste recycling has been attributed by industry observers to such factors as economic pressures leading to fewer packaged goods being purchased by consumers; a migration from glass to plastic containers; and a greater tendency to buy online, meaning more cardboard.

Indeed, those that would like to receive money for cardboard are entitled to get in touch with one of the leading waste disposal companies, Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com), which offers an efficient, well-priced and compliant service for UK businesses and organisations.

EU waste legislation backed by trade bodies

The role of European Union legislation in driving forward the waste recycling industry has been supported by the major trade bodies representing the sector in the UK, Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com) reports.

Such support for the waste collections sector comes amid continued work by the government to assess whether current EU laws are benefitting the UK, as part of its ‘Review of the Balance of Competences’. Included in the cross governmental review was a spring 2013 consultation into the impact of EU environmental legislation.

The findings of that review are set to form the basis of a government report analysing EU laws’ scope and effect as far as climate change and the environment are concerned. Now, the EU has been backed as a ‘force for good’ for UK industry in a joint statement by the Resource Association, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), Renewable Energy Association (REA), Environmental Services Association (ESA) and Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA).

The statement read, in words that will interest many of those using UK waste disposal companies: “In sharing our separate responses to the government’s consultation, it is clear that there are strong common positions and concerns about the role of the EU that are shared across the industry. We are clear that the overall impact of EU waste legislation has benefited the UK and that we want the UK to maintain a strong role in influencing EU waste and resources policy.”

The trade bodies added that they agreed on the need for “much more” to be done to level the playing field of EU laws’ implementation, particular with regard to the delivery of common standards of reporting and clarity on definitions and targets to increase the meaningfulness of comparisons across the EU.

The groups cited the Landfill Directive as one of the single pieces of legislation most impacting on UK industry, expressing doubt that industry could have been driven forward in a similar way through UK governments acting in isolation.

Stating that EU waste legislation had “undoubtedly” had a positive effect on UK industry, the bodies expressed a wish for “our engagement with the EU to be embedded and constructive, and respecting the principle of subsidiarity we believe that the UK should continue to embrace this approach – continued involvement in EU policy is good for the waste and resources industry.”

The waste services sector’s backing for EU legislation comes as a warning against a UK exit from the EU was issued by the Confederation of British Industries (CBI), arguing that the British economy would be harmed by such a move.

Our experts here at Collect and Recycle (https://www.collectandrecycle.com) will certainly keep a close eye on the EU membership debate as it relates to the UK recycling sector – and rest assured that in the meantime, we’ll continue to deal with all of your business waste in the most efficient, cost-effective and legally compliant manner.